Weed out the toxic candidates

Weed out the toxic candidates

Rude workers have a stronger impact on an organisation than civil workers


Costly: toxic employee

Costly: toxic employee


Nothing is more costly to an organisation’s culture than a toxic employee. Research even shows that rude workers have a stronger impact on an organisation than civil workers. So how do you weed out toxic workers before they are hired? Here are four ways:

Interview for civility 

Asking the candidate how he or she managed a situation in the past provides more valuable insight than hypothetical questions. Request examples of how his or her past behaviour matches the values you’re looking for. Also, observe the candidate’s behaviours, such as whether he or she arrived promptly or speaks negatively of others. Follow up with every employee who encounters the candidate. How did he or she treat your receptionist? Is the candidate kind, gracious and respectful?

Get your team involved 

Have the members go out with the candidate. You want to give the candidate an opportunity to observe your organisation’s values. Doing so will help them consider whether they are willing to internalise those values.

References about civility 

Understanding how a candidate behaved in the past will help you assess whether he or she will be civil at your company. Ask references for specific behavioural examples of the candidate’s characteristics. You should also talk to people in your network who know the candidate. And a candidate’s colleagues from lower levels can tell you if the person is the type to “kiss up, kick down”. Also, check references with people to whom the candidate has been accountable outside of work.

Check your own civility 

It’s hard to expect someone to be civil if you’re not modelling the same behaviour. No matter what the job is or how the candidate may seem, treat him or her respectfully. – Harvard Business Review 2016


Previously published in The Irish Times.


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