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3 Sure Signs You’re about to Hire a Dud

1. June 2016 12:52

two business people giving the thumbs down sign

Hiring the right people for the right jobs is possibly the most important task you can take on as a small-business owner. Get it right, and you’re free to focus on the big picture. Get it wrong, and you’re stuck trying to fix mistakes, smooth over ruffled feathers, and find a replacement.

Let’s take a look at what HR professionals think are sure signs the candidate you’re about to hire is a dud.

1. They Disrespect Your Receptionist

Andrea Herran, owner of the consultancy firm Focus HR (@FocusHR), has spent more than 25 years as an HR professional working in South Africa, Argentina, and Mexico before setting up her own shop in the United States. One thing her broad experience has taught her? Every person in a company deserves respect. How a candidate treats someone they see as beneath them is a good indicator of whether you want that person on your team. 

She recalls one time when she was reviewing resumes with a client for a somewhat senior position, and she asked their receptionist to put all of her calls to her voicemail. One candidate for the job kept calling and harassing the receptionist.

“The guy was so rude,” Herran says. “So I went out to him and said, ‘I just want to let you know from the last conversation you had with our receptionist when you said this, this, and this – for those reasons, your resume will never be considered for this job.’”

Dud-proof your pool: Talk to your receptionist, janitor, or anyone else who may have come in contact with a candidate. The stories they tell might be eye opening.

2. Their First Question Is "What’s in It for Me?"

As the senior business consultant and founder of AYF Consulting Corporation, Chavaz Kingman (@Chavaz) says your ideal employee may not be the person who sticks with your company for a long time, but one whose employment benefits the company’s long term goals and profits. He suggests you may be better off looking for employees who can produce and monetize the ideas that aid the company in the present and in the future.

“Candidates whose sole focus is on what our company can do for them usually don’t make the grade because business is about service – to customers, coworkers, and yourself,” says Kingman. “Candidates who only seek what’s in it for them are red-flag duds.”

Dud-proof your pool: Most people won't outright ask, “What’s in it for me?” But pay attention to the questions a candidate does ask. Do they sound engaged in what your company does or are most of their questions about scheduling, salary, and vacation? That should give you a fairly clear picture of where their interests are.

3. Their First Concern Is the Job Description

Edward Zaborniak, president of the HR consulting firm Frame (@Frame_HR), describes any employee who refuses to do anything that’s not in their job description as “poison pills.”

“Showing an unwillingness to be flexible and to adapt to changing requirements within a business is a death  knell,” says Zaborniak.

Not only can this negative attitude kill morale, but it might also open you up to General Liability Insurance, Professional Liability Insurance, or Workers’ Compensation Insurance claims. Think about it this way: an employee who says, “That’s not in my job description,” may ignore problems like…

Dud-proof your pool: Weed out lackluster candidates with interview questions such as…

Once you’ve eliminated the bad eggs from your hiring pool, you’ll want to figure out who is truly the cream of the crop. Check out “5 Sure Signs You’re about to Hire a Rock Star” for tips.

Meet the Contributors

Andrea Herran

Andrea Herran is the principal of Focus HR Consulting, which “uncomplicates the people side of your business.” Knowledgeable in the full spectrum of human resource activities, Herran’s passion is in helping small businesses achieve success through their people. She works alongside entrepreneurs, managers, and owners as an advisor to ensure legal compliance, as a consultant to set up human resource programs, as a coach to make them great people leaders, and as a mentor to on-site employees. Learn more at



Chavaz Kingman

Chavaz Kingman is a one-of-a-kind speaker and executive consultant who has worked with companies in the private and public sectors, including the leadership of Fortune 200 companies. His expertise in corporate social responsibility includes an unparalleled specialty in managing generational, race, and gender diversity in the workplace; monetary and non-monetary employee compensation; internal and external corporate image; establishing change momentum; and employee motivation. Learn more at



Edward Zaborniak

A former US Air Force officer with over 14 years of human resources and operations management experience, Edward Zaborniak has implemented HR solutions in a variety of settings in both the public and private sectors. He holds a masters in human resources / employee relations from Penn State and professional certifications from the HR Certification Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management. He created the HR consultancy Frame to help small businesses identify and implement necessary practices on which to build successful HR programs. Learn more at


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