A Hiring Horror Story

by Oct 30, 2018

Last Friday during a “get to know you” coffee, a local business owner shared his Hiring Horror Story.

After countless hours recruiting, sifting through resumes, phone screening and interviewing he had his candidate. The resume sparkled with the perfect experience, and the candidate rocked each interview.

The candidate started on a Thursday and wouldn’t you know it… was screaming at him the very next Monday! Yep, she screamed at him. At work. On day three of employment.


Here are some tips in three important areas, to ensure you don’t run into the same problem:


Interviewing is a skill. There’s a reason the staffing industry was an estimated $461 billion dollar global industry in 2017. This doesn’t even account for the billions companies spend on in-house/corporate recruiters.

Day in and day out, recruiters hone their craft learning not only what to ask but how to ask it so a candidate will respond in a manner that provides meaningful insight… and they can still get it wrong.

Tip: Coach your hiring managers on how to interview to match for management styles, work behaviors, and team culture. If you don’t have the luxury of a supportive HR team, then learn about interview techniques, leverage HR folks in your network or even ask a professional recruiter to sit in on your top interview(s).

Reference Checks

Yes, some references inevitably are friends providing fluff but that doesn’t negate the value of checking references. Understanding the strengths, weaknesses, passions and pitfalls of your candidate, even the fact that they can only provide friends as references, is valuable insight.

You never know what you’ll get; I’ve had a candidate put a prior employer they stole from as a personal reference. They later admitted it wasn’t their brightest idea, and I learned not to hire them.

Tip: Provide context and be unique in the initial and follow up questions you ask. “We like to support everyone for success. Tell me more about their growth opportunities,” goes a lot further than the tired “What are their weaknesses?” You’ll be shocked at how much someone’s friend shares when they are “helping”.

Background Checks

According to the FBI nearly 73.5 million Americans have a criminal record. That’s nearly 30% of the adult population; 1 in 3 adults!

Understand that a criminal record does not mean someone is a bad employee. It is extremely important that we as a society work to reintegrate folks and support them in being productive members. I mention the high rate of criminal records in adults to emphasize the need to understand the risks associated with a given role and whether or not a candidate is prone to unacceptable behaviors increasing that risk.

Tip: Do a comprehensive and thorough (all court systems, past residences & alias names) background check that screens for threats related to the role and company as a whole. Individually assess each candidate against what is an acceptable level of risk for that role. It is important to note that some jurisdictions (LA, NYC, etc.) have additional assessment requirements; check with your employment attorney.


So, what about the screaming employee?

Sure, there’s no guarantee this screamer would not have slipped through had my coffee buddy followed the above steps. However the likelihood would have been dramatically reduced for a nominal cost – compared to the mental anguish, lost revenue and productivity, and time spent on this bad hire. Not to mention the stress.


We’ve got an upcoming webinar with more tips for good hiring, background checks, and making sure your compliance efforts are also inline with building a positive environment. Sign up here. You don’t want to miss it!

Chat soon,

Civility Partners’ newest addition, The Prince of Pre-Hire, The Baron of Background Checks, The Oracle of Outsourced HR… or as the team knows me, Nick.

P.S. At the webinar, we’ll also talk about how to use your employer brand to get good people in and keep bad hires out, as well as how to make your background check part of the onboarding/culture-building experience.

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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