How to Identify Toxic Candidates In An Interview

how to identify toxic candidates in an interview

Imagine searching for the perfect fit for your company. And finally, you found one after a long and difficult search. You’re relieved, and you’re looking forward to seeing what they’ll bring to the table. That is, until they begin, at which point you realize they were not a good option at all. In fact, they’ve shown to be a negative influence on your team! We all want a positive energy flow in the workplace as employers. However, we’ve all encountered problematic workers that bring their toxicity to work. The best way to avoid toxicity is to avoid hiring them. To avoid them, you need to identify these candidates when conducting an interview. In this article, we will talk about how to identify toxic candidates in an interview.

Who is a toxic worker?

A toxic worker is an employee that contributes to a generally miserable workplace. The least detrimental things a toxic employee can do are harm business culture and lower team spirit. Besides, they cost the organization money for onboarding and offboarding. 

Tips on how to identify toxic candidates during an interview

Now that we know who a toxic worker is, we should avoid hiring them. They might have attractive qualifications, but they could be toxic to your company. For this reason, we have come up with a list of ways to identify toxic candidates in an interview. They include:

Candidates with huge unexplained employment gaps

A candidate’s CV might have a variety of reasons why they have an employment gap. The reasons range from medical concerns to extended maternity leaves to taking care of loved ones. But, these gaps should not be too much. Seeing multiple or significant, inexplicable gaps in a CV, on the other hand, is a major warning signal. You should definitely probe the candidate for this reason. Someone with huge, unexplained gaps in employment on their resume could be a terrible hire. This is because they might not stay long enough to learn the ropes of the company. Candidates that have multiple gaps and could not give you good reasons for that might be toxic. They might actually do well in the interview. But might exhibit some attitude that might not make them stay longer. 

Candidates who take feedback the wrong way

Another tip on how to identify toxic candidates in an interview is to look out for candidates that take feedback the wrong way. You cannot hire all candidates you invited for the interview. There are times that you will drop some after the first stage of the interview. Some of these applicants might want feedback on what they did wrong at the interview. If one of the candidates does not take the feedback well, it is a sign that they might be difficult to work with. A good candidate must be able to accept feedback and incorporate it so they can improve themselves. If this is not so, then you might have to remove them from the list of potential hires.

Those who do not ask questions

Nothing screams I’m not interested in this role than a candidate who does not ask questions at the interview. When a candidate asks you questions during the interview, it means they are interested in the role. If you hire a candidate that is not interested in working with you, they might start exhibiting toxic behaviors at work. Besides, not asking questions might mean that they are not ambitious. A candidate that is not ambitious is not self-motivated. This might affect how they work and cost you a lot.

Candidates who do not have team spirit

Having workers with team spirit at a workplace helps the company thrive well. Thus, the need to hire candidates that have team spirit. To identify candidates without team spirit, listen to them list their accomplishments. If they do not mention anything about accomplishing things with their team, then they do not have collaborative skills. Candidates without team spirit often refrain from using the word “we” and focus more on “I”. Not accrediting their team for success might mean they are egoistic. And hiring them can make them demoralize their team. This can lead to a disorganized workplace. 

Candidates who often complain

Another tip on how to identify toxic candidates in an interview is to look out for candidates that often complain. Such candidates are detrimental to the health of the workplace. Besides, someone who complains a lot is not productive. They spend their time complaining rather than working. Thus, they will not allow the company to grow. To identify these types of candidates, take note of what they say in and out of the interview room. Complaining about the interview or any other thing is a red flag. So, avoid candidates that complain. Besides, if they complain about their current/former workplace, avoid them.

Those with a high level of self-regard

To identify toxic candidates in an interview, you should look out for candidates that have a high self-regard. These people are like those without team spirit, but they could be more dangerous than them. People who have high regard for themselves have little or no care for others. Thus, they are more likely to engage in detrimental behavior. These folks frequently don’t realize the impact their actions have on others. For a healthy working environment, avoid people with a high level of self-regard.

Related: 9 Job Interview Red Flags.

Candidates with self-reported strict compliance to the rules

Another tip on how to identify toxic candidates in an interview is to look out for candidates who claim to obey rules. Candidates who say they always obey rules are often concealing the fact that they do the exact opposite. Many candidates claim they adhere to rules because they feel it would help them land a job. These candidates might end up having toxic behaviors that could be detrimental to the growth of the company. So, avoid them. 

Final Thoughts

It takes time to find the appropriate applicant. But it is better to take a longer time to hire a candidate than to hire a toxic candidate. No matter how talented or skilled a candidate is, they could hinder the growth of your company if they are toxic. With the tips shared in this article, you can avoid hiring toxic candidates.


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