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Flush Out the Jerks Before You Hire Them

Every workplace culture is different, but a trait almost guaranteed to be common among those cultures is that jerks are not welcome. As a hiring manager, it's your responsibility to make sure these jerks don't make it onto the team. To do this, you need to spot the signs. Here are a few quick tips you can apply to your hiring process today:

  • While the candidate waits for the interview, ask a few of your office staff to interact with them for various reasons, and gauge the reaction. Observe everything from verbal responses to facial expressions to see if the candidate is personable or rude. They may not react if they're extremely nervous, but it's a starting point.

  • Be aware of negative tones. If your candidate is trash-talking all of their past employers and co-workers, there's a good chance the problem wasn't with the past jobs, but with the individual. They're also more likely to be spreading negativity about you in the next couple years.

  • Too much positivity can also be an issue. If this person only has success stories and takes credit for everything great that happened, they're either lying, terrible at working in a team, or too blind to see that others may have contributed.

  • Force out some self-discovery by asking your candidate to list their weaknesses and shortcomings. If they don't seem to be digging deep to let you know where they can improve, the person is either lying or truly believes they're perfect. Neither of these are particularly good signs, but the latter will be more harmful to your culture.

  • Jerks come in many varieties, but one of the more common is the narcissistic jerk. This article from Workopolis has extensive details about spotting a narcissist, with a few key areas being a belief that they're better than everyone, a strong desire for power, and exaggerated achievements.

  • Don't let them fool you. While we all have an idea of the stereotypical characteristics of narcissist, according to this article from Forbes, they may be the shy, quiet type. You can still look for subtle signs like interrupting, glazing over you, dropping names, and swearing. Another misbelief of narcissists is that their opinions may rarely start with "I". Saying "I think" can seem too subjective and this type wants to make sure their statement is coming across as the absolute truth.

Keeping a jerk-free culture is one of the keys to ensuring a happy workplace for everybody. How do you keep them out of your office?