5 Interview Questions That Reveal Toxic Candidates

Interviews are a great way to get to know your applicants. But knowing whether candidates will fit in well at your firm or not isn’t always easy. In our last piece, we talked about how to identify toxic candidates in an interview. Read more about it here. However, knowing the right question to ask goes a long way in revealing the toxic candidates. For this reason, we have come up with a list of interview questions that reveal toxic candidates. They include:

1. What appeals to you about working for us?

This is one of the interview questions that reveal toxic candidates. This question will show you how well the candidate has researched your organization. Besides, you’ll be able to hear them explain why they’d be a good fit. This way, you will know those that paid attention to where their applications are going. Because some candidates send applications without proper research. Moreover, you will be able to find out whether your company culture interests them. Or, if they have something unique to say about your organization. Those who can recognize anything unique about your firm are more likely to stick around. Those that can’t say something unique about your company do not know what they want. This could imply that they have not done any research. Or they might be sending applications blindly to different companies.

2. What would you change about your previous workplace?

Take note of how the candidate answers this question. Candidates who complain about their previous workplace during an interview could be toxic. Toxic candidates can also provide a more subtle response to this question. Be wary of candidates who blame their workplace’s problems on a single person. Sometimes, these people pull down their coworkers. When things go wrong, these types of people can blame others for the problem.

But, stay away from candidates who claim they would alter nothing about their job or employer. If the individual liked everything about their present job, they would not be on the hunt for a new one. These candidates are lying, and you have no idea what else they are lying about. No one enjoys every aspect of their job. This means that every workplace might benefit from certain improvements. Some candidates won’t complain even if you ask them about the downsides. Take note of these candidates as they are not toxic. They talk about the difficulties in the office as a whole. This means they do not blame anyone in particular for the difficulties. They talk openly about the changes they want to make and emphasize the benefits of such changes.

Related: 9 Interview Red Flags (For Recruiters)

3. Tell me about a time when you failed.

Avoid job applicants who acknowledge failing but then point the finger at others. Some candidates will claim that they handled the failure on their own. These candidates will not seek help when they need it. They might not even appreciate their co-workers who assist them. So, make sure you take them off your list. You should also avoid those that believe they have never failed. These candidates have high regard for their skills. Thus, they are unable to acknowledge their flaws. They won’t be able to learn from or progress as a professional if they can’t spot problems.

Look for someone aware of their strengths and weaknesses. This type of person accepts responsibility for their failures. These applicants are aware of their flaws and have moved on. They don’t perceive these events as failures, but rather as opportunities to learn. Thus, while answering this question, they emphasize more on the lessons learned. They might even tell you how different their approach would be if it were to be now. Besides, they have no problem mentioning those who helped them during the period.

4. Describe a time you were given a task that wasn’t part of your job title.

This question is also one of the interview questions that reveal toxic candidates. It is an essential question to know how the candidate will react if given such a task. There will be instances when candidates must go beyond their normal day-to-day obligations. They do things that aren’t part of their job description during these instances. Employees should be flexible not only for their employers but also for their clients. The best applicants will emphasize how taking on extra tasks made them improve. A toxic candidate is someone who was annoyed by the fact that they had to do more for their company or client. This demonstrates inflexibility and a lack of teamwork. So, you should avoid candidates like this.

5. What skills do you still lack?

This question is also one of the interview questions that reveal toxic candidates. It gives room for candidates to talk about their weaknesses. But toxic candidates avoid answering the question by giving shallow responses. Besides, toxic candidates believe they already know everything. Thus, they do not have an interest in learning new skills. So, you should avoid candidates that can not answer this question properly. They might claim, for example, that they need to learn to work less or be less of a perfectionist. These responses reveal that the candidate is only interested in acing the interview. Thus, they have no true desire to learn something new.

Take note of candidates who have an interest in developing themselves. They readily acknowledge skill-gap. These candidates might realize they lack relevant expertise for the position or industry. Sometimes, they have an interest in skills that are in line with their job title. For instance, a programmer might have an interest in learning social media management. With this skill, they will be able to showcase their work on social media. Other times, they might have an interest in a skill outside their job. For instance, a cybersecurity expert might want to learn social media marketing. Whichever the case may be, acknowledging skill-gap is a desirable quality in the job.

Final Thoughts 

It might be an expensive error to hire a toxic employee. During screening interviews, ask the correct questions to weed out potentially toxic candidates. These interview questions that reveal toxic candidates can help you. Besides, these questions can also help you identify the right candidate for the job.

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