When we hear about the concept of a “bad hire,” it is often in the context of how such hires impact the business. There isn’t much commentary on how being a bad hire can impact the hires themselves — but this impact can be huge. A bad hire loses their job prematurely, may suffer a damaged reputation, and may hurt their future employment chances. They may even experience financial issues as a result of their lost job.
To avoid becoming bad hires, candidates should tread carefully when applying to potential employers and new roles. They should focus only on roles and companies that will be good fits for them and avoid those environments that may lead to premature departures.
To help job seekers identify companies where they are likely to turn into bad hires, I offer the following three warning signs. If you come across a role or company that meets these criteria in your job hunt, then you probably shouldn’t apply, for your own sake.
1. You Don’t Fit With Your Manager’s Leadership Style
Your relationship with your future boss can make or break your success in a role. According to research from the Gallup, roughly 50 percent of people have left a job “to get away from [a] manager.” These findings demonstrate that your relationship with your boss is prime factor in deciding whether you turn out to be a “good” or “bad” hire.
If you find during the interview process that you don’t mesh with your potential boss’s leadership style or align with their values, there’s a good chance that the job will end up being a bad fit for you.
Areas in which you may find tension between you and your potential boss may include things like business ethics, corporate social responsibility, employee autonomy, openness and transparency, and preferred methods of working.
Take some time during the interview process to determine whether or not you and your potential boss align in these areas. If you find that there’s a lot of conflict between you two, it is in your best interest to look for work elsewhere.
This test can also be applied to the company as a whole. If you don’t fit the company culture at large, the role may not be a fit for you, even if it seems like you and your boss might get along.
That being said, research suggests that the team-level culture created by your boss has a bigger impact on your engagement and performance than the overall corporate culture. If you find yourself not fitting the overall culture but getting along swimmingly with your potential boss, you may want to still consider applying.
2. There’s a High Turnover Rate in the Role You Are Applying For
An above-average turnover rate could be cause for concern, potentially hinting at a toxic environment that employees can’t stand.
But high turnover alone does not always mean “toxic workplace”: it can also indicate a dynamic culture that attracts people who are in more transient, experimental phases of their careers.
When job hunting, focus less on company-wide turnover rates and more on turnover rates in the specific role for which you are applying. For example, let’s say you’re hoping to work in the role for three or four years, but the previous three employees in the role all left in under a year. This would suggest that there is a problem with the role or the way the company is hiring for the role. The role may not be a good fit for you or anyone.
If you find a role with an excessively high turnover rate, you need to investigate why the rate is so high before deciding whether or not the position is right for you.
3. The Company Seems to Have a Disorganized, Chaotic, and/or Incoherent Hiring Process
In my experience, a chaotic hiring process is often a sign of larger organizational problems. Think about it: if the hiring process doesn’t work well, it won’t create an effective workforce. That disorganized hiring process you’re going through may be a reflection of the inefficiencies and lack of engagement operating throughout the entire company.
Danger signs to watch out for in a hiring process include:
- lack of a clear, written job description;
- lack of clear goals for the role;
- absence of key stakeholders from the interview process;
- and seemingly aimless interviews.
These factors can all be huge red flags that the company is poorly run — not the kind of place where you’ll have the support and resources you need to succeed.
Note, of course, that a chaotic hiring process may not be a turnoff to everyone. If you can handle uncertainty and you have the heart and energy for the challenge, then march on. But, if you are looking for stability and direction, then this role/company may not be a good fit for you.
By following these tips, job seekers should be able to find the roles and companies in which they’ll really succeed — and avoid the ones that will only turn them into “bad hires.”