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You Hired Dr. Jekyll, But Got Mr. Hyde

Any recruiter that has been at this job for more than a week can relate to it. You have a candidate who you bring in for one, two, maybe even three interviews with various members of your team. They are outgoing, charismatic, they give the right answers to your questions. Sometimes they even give you an answer that you weren't expecting that is so profound and insightful that you stare at them dumbfounded for a moment while you say to yourself "Why didn't I think of that?"

The decision is unanimous that everyone thinks this person is "the one". So you make them a job offer, and schedule their first day of work. When their first day of work finally gets here, you are so excited to get them up to speed. And then WHAM! They show up and spew a big pile of steaming hot crazy all over the office. Who is this person? You'd be willing to swear on a stack of bibles that this is not the same person you interviewed. How did this happen?

The fact is, we're human. We make mistakes. Sometimes, we make decisions that are driven by a desired outcome. In this case, that means that we want to hire someone to fill a position. Maybe the Hiring Manager is on your back about being short-handed. They need someone "yesterday". (And has any hiring manager ever not needed them"yesterday?" But, I digress...) And being a dedicated recruiter, you're going to do everything in your power to get it for them.

Is it that unthinkable that we might overlook a few minor things? The problem is, those minor things are often wolves in sheep's clothing. I've been interviewing people for years now, and I think I'm pretty good at it. But I've certainly been burned a few times. And each one stings just as much as the next. In my experience, there are certain types of candidates that you need to watch out for. They may seem fine on the surface, but they're toxic.

The Smooth Talker

These folks make a career out of putting on a show and telling people exactly what they want to hear. They figure out what you want to hear by what you say and do. They'll listen for clues about what you want, and then they'll regurgitate it back to you in their own words. And once they're in your company, they'll do a great job of convincing you they're doing a lot more work than they actually are.

How do we spot these people? Silence is your weapon. Ask the question, and then close your mouth. Don't agree, don't disagree, don't add your own thoughts in their answer. Don't "save" them when they appear to be struggling for an answer. Without you as a guidepost, they'll fail on their own merits.

The Rockstar

These folks are the gold metalists in everything. To hear them talk, you'd think they ran their whole department single-handedly. And it's all smoke and mirrors. These people are also usually very brash and confident. They're counting on you being impressed by them, so you don't see that they lack substance. And once they're in your company, they will alienate all their coworkers by telling them how they're doing their jobs wrong.

How do we spot these people? Details, details, details. Behavioral questions are your friend. These people are usually great at painting a very compelling but rather vague picture in which they are the champions. But when you probe for details, you'll start seeing the holes develop.

The Victim

This one is my personal favorite. They blame others for ev-er-y-thing. Nothing is ever their fault. They're constantly misunderstood, mismanaged, mislead. It's their thing. And once they're in your company, good luck. They'll weasel out of accountability every time by painting someone else as the problem. All the while, creating dissent in the ranks because you as the leader aren't dealing with what everyone else knows is the real problem: that person.

How do we spot these people? Watch for the deflections, and ask follow-up questions when you see them. It may start out subtle, probably when you're discussing why they left a job. It may sound something like "my boss and I weren't on the same page", "so-and-so was very hard to work with." Don't just accept that answer, dig a little deeper. And then, ask them how they have grown as a result, what did they learn about themselves?

Stay the course, my friends. Be diligent, and watch for the subtle clues. It will save you and your company a lot of headaches down the road. Happy recruiting!

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