How to Screen for Friends, Posers, and Toxic High-Performers: A Hiring Manager's Guide

In this article, we'll discuss how to evaluate three types of candidates and get beyond their personal relationships and qualifications - and how to deal with each one.

As a hiring manager, it's essential to evaluate candidates based on more than just their surface-level qualifications, especially when screening for three types of people - friends who may not be high-performers, posers who look the part but are actually low performers, and high-performers who are also toxic. By mastering the art of screening for these three types of people, you'll make less hiring mistakes and you'll uncover the true potential of candidates and find the best fit for your organization.

How to Screen for High-Performers Beyond Personal Relationships

We've all been there. There's always that one awesome friend that thinks they are perfect for an internal job. If you are going to consider them, it's important to view them as a candidate, not as a close friend. Focus on their skills and qualifications, rather than their relationship with you. Establish clear job requirements, a rigorous interview process, and performance metrics to ensure that all employees, including friends, meet expectations. If a friend is not performing well, have an open and honest conversation with them and provide clear feedback. Hold them accountable and make necessary adjustments to meet team goals.

To screen for friends who may not be high-performers, use these three approaches:

  • Focus on objective criteria: Evaluate candidates based on objective criteria, such as their education, work experience, and relevant skills. This helps assess their qualifications and determine if they're a good fit for the role, regardless of personal relationships.
  • Use behavioral interviewing techniques: Ask candidates to provide specific examples of how they handled situations in the past. This helps identify candidates with the necessary skills and experience to perform well in the role.
  • Consider conducting skills assessments: Use skills tests, such as technical tests, writing samples, or presentations, to evaluate candidates objectively. This helps identify candidates with the necessary skills and experience to succeed in the role.

How to Screen for Low-Performers Who Pretend to Look the Part

Posers can be challenging to identify during the interview process as they present themselves as highly qualified candidates. Conduct skills assessments or tests, check references, and establish clear performance metrics and expectations to filter them out. Make sure to address any poser situations quickly and take appropriate action, such as additional training or coaching, or termination.

To screen for posers, use these three approaches:

  • Use behavioral interviewing techniques: Assess how candidates handled situations in the past and how they might handle similar situations in the future. This approach helps to reveal candidates who may be stretching the truth on their resume or in the interview.
  • Conduct skills tests or assessments: Use skills tests or assessments to verify a candidate's abilities. This helps identify candidates who may have exaggerated or lied about their skills and experiences.
  • Check references: When contacting references, ask specific questions about the candidate's performance, skills, and work habits. Look for discrepancies between what the candidate told you in the interview and what the reference is saying.

How to Screen for High-Performers with Toxic Tendencies

Toxic employees can absolutely ruin a company, especially ones that value collaboration, respect, and accountability. During the interview process, ask questions that evaluate a candidate's ability to work well with others, handle conflict, and contribute positively to team goals. Establish clear expectations for behavior and conduct, and communicate them regularly. Address any toxic situations quickly and take appropriate action to protect the team's culture and overall performance.

To screen for toxic high-performers, use these three approaches:

  • Behavioral interviewing: Assess how candidates handled difficult situations in their previous roles. Look for red flags such as blame-shifting, bad-mouthing colleagues, or a lack of accountability.
  • Reference checks: Ask previous employers about the candidate's behavior in the workplace. Listen carefully to any hesitations or concerns raised by the reference.
  • Personality assessments: Use personality assessments to gain insight into the candidate's work style, communication style, and behavioral tendencies. Look for traits such as emotional intelligence, adaptability, and teamwork, but also be aware of potential red flags such as a tendency towards aggression, controlling behavior, or narcissism.

Bonus 7 Step Checklist:

Here’s a short checklist to use to improve your hiring abilities:

  1. Make sure to define your specific job requirements
  2. Don’t forget to use objective criteria for evaluation
  3. Conduct at least one type of skills assessment
  4. Embed behavioral interviewing techniques into your interviews
  5. Make sure to check references thoroughly (3 prior immediate supervisors)
  6. Avoid your own personal biases by including a diverse set of interviewers
  7. Establish a rigorous interview process (something like a phone call followed by two formal interviews and one group interview)

As a hiring manager, it's crucial to screen candidates beyond their surface-level qualifications, especially when dealing with friends, posers, and toxic high-performers. By focusing on objective criteria, using behavioral interviewing techniques, and conducting skills assessments, you can identify candidates who will be a good fit for your team. Remember, the way to master the art of screening is to slow down, filter out the noise and your own biases, and work the process. This is the key to uncovering the true potential of candidates and finding the best fit for your organization.

Take your talent acquisition and recruitment efforts from routine to remarkable with TalentSum 360. For more information on how TalentSum 360 can unlock the full potential of your talent function, get in touch with our team today.

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