When Bad Job Applicants Can Be Your Best Hire
Some people dismiss certain "types"of job candidates out of hand, regardless of skills, experience or potential. If you don't fit their idea of what an employee should be like, you're rejected. This is, of course, illegal in the case of race, religion, disability and a few other things, but perfectly legal in many cases.
Is this wise behavior? Absolutely not. Once you start hiring people, the last thing you want is a bunch of clones. Instead, you should hire people who are not like you and won't be your best friend. Look at how they will do in the job, and how they will help your company grow, not if they can all fit a personality profile. Yes, culture matters, but you should prioritize diversity and merit.
Fellow Inc. columnist, Steve Cody, wrote 13 Types of Job Applicants You Should Never Hire, a week or so ago. And, frankly, I disagree with him on lots of his points. In fact, I think you should look for some of these very people he dismisses out of hand. Not all of them, of course. I agree, you should avoid the Drama Queen and the Improvisation King and the Mobile-Device Maven. The last thing you need is an unprepared, phone tapping, drama generating employee creating havoc in your office.
But not all nightmare job applicants are as scary as they seem. Here's when you should hire them--or not:
1. The Helicopter Millennial
I've written a lot about the problems of helicopter parenting. It definitely cripples some kids, and I think American parents could take some lessons from other cultures. However, just because someone has a helicopter parent, it doesn't mean they like it or aren't separating themselves from it, and won't be a great asset to your company. As more and more kids are "helicoptered" through life, you're blocking out a huge segment of the population. Instead, do a thorough background check and talk to their internship managers, and professors, or even their manager at a fast food job to find out how they really are.
2. The "What's in It for Me?" Guy
People who are too focused on what's in it for them can be problematic. But, let's be honest. If you don't have something to offer your job candidates, why on earth would they want to work for you? If you can't offer a challenge, growth, and great benefits, you're not going to get the best people. People don't work for you out of the goodness of their hearts. They want to work for you because it will make them better off.
3. The Sports-Analogy [Jerk]
Cody, apparently, gets people who use sports analogies because he climbs mountains. He hates the sports analogy. Okey-dokey. I'm not big on them either, but if someone uses them on a cover letter for a job, it means they've done research and know a little bit about him. That, to me, is a gold star. Refusing to consider someone because they use one tired phrase means you're not looking at the whole person.
4. The Guilt Tripper
Guilt is grating, no doubt. And I would, of course, advise people to never, ever, not in a million years use it as a job search strategy. (For instance, I hear a lot, "I'm a single mother so...") It's a failed strategy, for many of the reasons Cody states. However, he says he hires "winners" not losers who have been out of work for 18 months. Many people lose jobs through no fault of their own. Don't reject them because they aren't "winning" today. One day, you may not be "winning" either.
5. The Blank Expressionist
This person is rejected for not having questions to ask. This totally depends on the level of job. Your candidate for marketing director should have questions to ask. A candidate for a call center? Well, chances are you've already answered all the relevant questions. This is applying to same standard to candidates, regardless of if the skills is needed.
6. The Chatterbox
Cody ends this section with: "The Chatterbox really should be interviewing for a telemarketing gig at Publishers Clearing House." And keep that in mind. Not every person is a fit for every job, but every job doesn't require the same type of person.
7. The Minimalist
This guy is rejected because he gives one word answers. Again, this totally depends on the job. Does your accountant need to be loquacious? What about your warehouse staff? What about your IT person? What if this candidate is Autistic? He may be able to do the job and do it better than anyone else, but since you've set an arbitrary standard, you'll reject people who you shouldn't. Do this at your own risk, as it's a violation of law.
8. The Hyperbolist
Honesty is a big deal. Your candidates shouldn't be lying, and if you catch them lying, you should reject them. But keep in mind that everyone is always going to emphasize their successes on their resumes. They aren't doing it to deceive, they are trying to project that they are successful. Reject the liars, excuse a little hyperbole.
9. The Chameleon
I largely agree with Cody's assessment of the person who wants any job. What you want is someone who wants this job. But, for entry level jobs? Honestly, anyone who is bright enough can be trained for just about any job. And those millennials straight out of college really haven't differentiated yet. In fact, they don't know enough to know what they want to do. Give them a chance and watch them bloom.
10. The Drama Queen
Totally agree. Drama? No way.
11. The Improvisation King
I also agree that unprepared job candidates demonstrate a lack of interest in the job. But, don't expect an external candidate to have an in depth understanding of your company. That can only be gained through either working there, or having inside connections.
12. The Sloppy Joe
Typos happen. They happen to the best of us. They happen even when we have professional editors looking at things we've written. One typo is not reason to reject someone--especially if the job doesn't require writing.
13. The Mobile-Device Maven
I agree here as well. If you can't put down the phone for the interview, I'm not going to hire you either.
SUZANNE LUCAS | Columnist
Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers.