How To Spot a Potentially Toxic Hire

how to spot a toxic hire

How To Spot a Potentially Toxic Hire

Teamwork makes the dream work; teamwork fosters creativity and learning, boosts productivity, builds trust and is a key pillar for organizational success.

However, successful teamwork is one toxic hire away from being a distant memory.

Organizations are always on the lookout for top-performing talents to improve productivity and overall output.

One star employee can revamp the entire work process of any firm they join by boosting the organization’s portfolio, encouraging colleagues to ‘up’ their game and growing the system.

Sadly, the organization’s, in their bid to find the best employees, run the risk of onboarding an employee that may not be worth the stress.

You don’t have to, Mentor Africa Foundation has done the grunt work to help you spot potentially toxic hires before the onboarding process.

You can’t address toxic behaviors if you don’t know they are there, or if you don’t know just how damaging they are.

How To Spot A Potentially Toxic Hire

Here are the top four (4) ways to do this effectively.

  1. Recognize Toxic Employees

To spot a toxic employee, you must first know who exactly a toxic employee is.

A toxic employee is different from a difficult employee but they can be difficult to deal with.

Toxic employees come in an array of exasperating forms. They can be annoying, destructive, vindictive and overall cancerous to the system.

According to, toxic employees are –

“Like a cancer sapping the energy of those around them, they cripple their coworkers’ morale, performance and productivity. Worse, they poison your entire business in the process.”

Toxic employees can be recognized by looking out for these key traits:

  • Disorganization
  • Learned helplessness
  • Lack of credibility
  • Resistance to change
  • Low motivation
  • Fan office drama
  • Disregard for protocol
  • Manipulation and sabotage

Once in the system, coping with toxic employees is a long game that is sometimes not worth the stress and four out of five times it is better to avoid them altogether.

2. Review Your Interview Process

Across the globe, the interview process is the keyway organization brings on new talent.

Potential employees are sourced, CVs are screened and a select few are invited for an interview as the final hurdle.

While interviews help organization’s make the final decision on whether or not to hire an employee, most applicants have learned how to game the system.

With pre-studied interview questions and answers, adequate research and preparation and carefully observing company culture from social media pages, candidates come fully armed with tactics to make them the best possible candidate.

A strategy to help your firm make better hiring decisions is by carrying out background checks, contacting references and inquiring about behaviour in past workplaces and using pre-hire employee assessments.

3. Use Pre-Hire Assessment Tool

Pre-hire assessment is a test or questioner given to candidates to complete as part of the overall job application process.

These tests are used to check the competency of a prospective hire concerning the needs and preferences of your organization.

Science-based tests like cognitive and personality tests can help recruiters determine if a candidate will be a good fit for company culture, predict a candidate’s future job performance, the possible success rate at the role they are seeking, their general mental ability, patterns of individual behaviour, and technical skills.

Pre-hire assessment tools are the most effective way to test if a candidate will be a perfect fit for a position as they’ve been proven to produce better results than human judgement when determining the potential success of candidates for specific roles.
Some pre-hire assessment tools to consider include:

  • Adaface
  • Athena Assessment
  • Berke Assessment
  • Codility
  • The English Quiz
  • HireSelect
  • HR Avatar
  • Saberr
  • Skillsarena
  • ThriveMap

Are toxic employees ruining your workplace? - Insperity

4. Prioritize Core Organizational Value

Organizations generally have values that make them unique.

These values govern the company culture and drive workforce behaviour and accountability.

New employees are expected to pick up on company values during the onboarding process and master them as they learn company culture, however, some employees have a longer assimilation process while others may never fully identify with the values of the organization.

A solution to this problem is to bring on candidates that already share in the company’s values through careful inquiry into past working experiences during the interview process.

Recruiters can ask questions that prioritize your organization’s value. For example, if you value analytic skills, you can present candidates with a work problem they could encounter on the job and see how to tackle that problem.

Toxic employees can derail the growth of your organization, create a toxic work environment and bring down the morale of your workforce which inevitability reduces the output of your organization.

While it is possible to manage toxic employees organizations should recognize that employees unwilling to grow are not worth keeping, even if they are your star employee.

Remember your mentor or mentee can be a useful resource in bouncing off idea regarding workplace culture.

If you are yet to begin a mentoring journey, click here.

1 Comment
  • Packers and Movers in Andheri
    Posted at 09:03h, 06 December Reply

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