Sound Hiring Decisions

Lesson 4: Topic 2 of 14

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The best way to avoid hiring a person who’s prone to violence is to be mindful of it during the applicant screening process. A criminal  background check is a must. Always request and then check personal and professional references ― but since many people provide as references people who will say positive things about them, ask the references if they know of other people who might be willing to provide insights into this candidate. Those secondary references can give clues you might find helpful. 

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Also, make sure to use diagnostic questions in the interview process. “Why did you leave your last position?” is fairly common, of course. “Tell me about your best and worst supervisors” and “Tell me about a time you dealt with failure” can provide great insight into a candidate’s thought process. Is he always blaming others and unwilling to accept his own mistakes? Does she go on at length about her worst boss but has little to say about her best one? Trust your instincts if something feels “off” or worrisome. 

Please do keep in mind that “assertive” and “aggressive” are not synonyms. You can be one but not the other, or both at the same time. Let’s assume, however, you or someone else hired an aggressive person who’s now sending overt danger signals. Now what? 

In the New York Times bestseller Boundaries, Doctors Henry Cloud and John Townsend discuss problematic employees. You may have some on the payroll right now. These people cause stress to supervisors and coworkers in various ways. They may be offloading their duties to others due to laziness, incompetence, spite, or substance abuse issues. They may be technically competent or high performers who have harsh or grating personalities, exacerbated by power dynamics where some people have official or unofficial authority over others. They may be unintentionally belittling or demeaning in discussing social and political positions, completely unaware that their peers have opposite beliefs, opinions, or lifestyles.