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To Avoid Making Bad Hires, Look For These 5 Things in Every Person You Interview

Bad hires happen when you don't know what to look for during the interview process.

By Bill Green

Author and CEO, LendingOne


I have been interviewing candidates and observing others interview for my businesses for over 40 years. 

In a previous Inc article, I talked about how to effectively prepare for an interview. In this article, however, I'd like to break down the interview itself--specifically as the person looking to make a great hire, and what goes into finding that unique individual.

So, setting the stage here, let's assume your company is looking to hire for a specific role and you've selected a few candidates.

Interviewing is both an art and a science. It's also one of the most crucial parts to building an effective business--I talk about the topic at length in my book, All In. And just like anything else in life, you need to practice and refine your skills as an interviewer in order to make the most of your time. Too often, I see managers walk into interviews unprepared, "winging it" and asking vague questions that don't reveal anything noteworthy about the candidate. What good is an in-person interview if you hear them say the same information already written on their resume?

Here are the five things every hiring manager should do when holding an interview. I've found the following to reveal the most about candidates:

1. Ask all of the candidates the same questions.

You'd be surprised how many managers or even other CEOs I see hold back-to-back interviews, asking completely different questions to both candidates. If you're basing the questions on the specific candidates experience, it's unlikely you'll learn whether they can perform the job you've outlined.

Like I said, interviewing is a science--which means, in order to compare your findings, you have to keep at least one variable constant. By asking different candidates different questions, you're removing your ability to weigh them side by side.

2. Keep the questions related to the job they're applying for.

This is a big mistake I notice a lot of hiring managers make. 

If the question doesn't relate to the position, or the candidates ability to do the job, then it shouldn't be asked. Period. 

An interview is not the time to attempt to make a personal connection. Reason being, that tends to allow the candidate to control the interview, instead of the interviewing extracting the information they need to make an educated and objective decision. 

3. The questions you've prepared must include open-ended, closed-ended, and leading questions.

Every interview should involve these three types of questions. An open-ended question requires more than a "Yes" or "No" to answer, and is intended to give the candidate time to think and share a personal experience.

A closed-ended question can be a simple "Yes" or "No." 

And a leading question is where, as the interview, you're looking to catch a glimpse into how they think. For example, "I see you've managed a lot of projects in the past. Tell me why that's important to you and why you enjoy it." That's a leading question. Another example would be questions that involve "what if" answers. Again, you want to see how they go about thinking through and verbalizing their own internal thoughts.

4. Don't ask opinion-based questions.

This should be common sense, but you'd be surprised how many hiring managers make this mistake.

Opinion-based questions get you nowhere in interviews. What you're looking to understand is their experience, but more importantly, their behavior. Opinion questions do not do a good job at predicting future behavior (which is essentially what you're banking on when you're hiring someone). Instead, keep your questions objective and aim to understand how they operate, problem solve, and approach their work.

5. Just because they have the education and training, doesn't mean they can do the job.

One of my favorite opening questions to ask a candidate is, "What do you know about our company?"

Reason being, if someone was interviewing to work at my company, LendingOne, it wouldn't take much effort for them to know what we're up to in our industry. This simple question tells me out the gate whether they took the time to prepare, or if they are on just another interview. 

But let's say they did their due diligence, and had studied up to the point where they could speak confidently about our company. Let's even say they have a personal interest in our industry, and are already fairly educated on our offerings.

Unfortunately, that doesn't guarantee they can do the job.

One of the hardest things you have to do, as an interviewer, is ask yourself whether the candidate in front of you is right for the role you're looking to fill. I find hiring managers are quick to hire someone they like, or someone they feel is knowledgable about the space, without really asking themselves whether this individual is right for the role itself.

There's a big difference. And part of making great hires is knowing when a great candidate isn't the right fit. 


Getting New Hires to Come to You (and Stay)

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In October, the unemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage point to 4.1%, its lowest level since December 2000, according to the Labor Department. Determined to get their piece of the ever-shrinking pool of available human resources, companies across all industries are sharpening their pencils and coming up with interesting ways to get onto new hires’ radar screens.

Needing a way to attract 200 new nurses in the midst of a national shortage of such healthcare professionals, one hospital in West Virginia went beyond traditional incentives (signing bonuses, overtime pay, flexible scheduling, etc.) and began offering free accommodations to out-of-town applicants who didn’t want to relocate.

“Morgantown is a delightful place, but a lot of times, when people outside the state think about West Virginia, there’s a negative connotation,” WVU Medicine’s Doug Mitchell told STAT. “We can’t let a lack of nurses limit us.” To date, several hundred nurses have stayed at the dorm before returning home, the publication reports.

Restaurants are also hard-pressed to find good employees and coming up with ways to overcome the obstacle. In Colorado, for example, Fazoli’s recently held a “National Signing Day,” where people come in one day and know the following day whether they are hired the next day. The restaurant’s owner is baiting the hook with prizes that include “stay for 90 days and get an extra $90,” or the chance to win high-end Beats headphones and a Bose sound system. “The goal is to not only attract good people, but get them to stick around,” according to CBS Denver’s Dominic Garcia.

Get Your Recruiting Out of the ’70s  
“You can’t keep recruiting like its 1970 and expect it to work in this era,” says Ira S. Wolfe, president at Success Performance Solutions and author of Recruiting in the Age of Googlization. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what many traditional, small- to midsized firms are doing. To avoid this trap, Wolfe says distributors need to do the basic outreach (i.e., job ads, social media, job websites, etc.), and then measure the results of those efforts. “If you post an ad in the local paper and no one actually sees it, you aren’t going to get the job candidates that you’re looking for,” Wolfe cautions. “You’re basically just throwing darts in hopes that it works.”

Another major sticking point for many companies is an archaic application process that simply isn’t millennial- or GenZ-savvy. These mobile-ready generations expect to be able to make purchases and apply for stuff right from their iPhones, which means they’re not going to take the time to sit down at a laptop computer to fill out a lengthy job application. “If all I own is a mobile phone or tablet, and if that’s how I connect to the Internet, I’m not going to want to deal with that application,” says Wolfe, who estimates that roughly 80% of job candidates who start an application wind up abandoning it. “And when you’re talking about candidates who are under 35, that percentage goes even higher.”

Wolfe, who recently worked with an industrial distributor that was looking to hire its sixth employee, says the company couldn’t find what it needed using traditional recruiting methods. By broadcasting the job across social media, measuring the resultant responses and interactions to it, and simplifying its application process, the company was able to select its new hires from a wider swath of candidates. “Within one week, they had hired two new people,” says Wolfe, “and all because of those little tweaks to the recruiting process.”

Don’t Forget About Keeping Your Best Onboard
Beverly Kaye, founder of Los Angeles-based Career Systems International says companies across the board are having a hard time finding and retaining good workers. The environment probably won’t improve in 2018, she says, which is why electrical distributors should think long and hard about how they go about attracting new hires. And don’t forget about those recruits once they’re onboard, says Kaye, because losing (and having to replace) a key hire can be a pretty expensive proposition.

“People want to know that they are valued, and that the work that they’re doing is valued,” says Kaye, who tells distribution managers to come up with challenging tasks, projects, and job roles that employees can really sink their teeth into. This will not only keep them engaged, but it will also keep them coming back for more. The latter is particularly crucial in an era where the next job opportunity is literally one mouse click away. “Find ways to help people expand their skills without making it feel like more work,” says Kaye, “and then provide solid feedback both during and after the assignment or project.”

If you don’t think honesty testing of your job applicants matters, read this!

Saks Fifth Avenue staff ran identity theft ring that netted $400,000 worth of designer goods from flagship Manhattan store

After reading this recent article, Take the critical first step, before you hire people-honesty testing. Request a sample of our Step One Survey integrity test. It will save you hundreds of thousands of dollars, shrinkage and sleepless nights while insuring that you hire honest, reliable, hardworking employees!   And the return on investment is enormous.

Request a sample report


Staff at Saks Fifth Avenue's flagship store were allegedly running a huge identity theft ring. The sophisticated scheme funneled stolen data to corrupt salespeople to create sham transactions, authorities said.

The scam netted more than $400,000 worth of designer shoes, handbags and accessories, it is alleged.

Staff at Saks Fifth Avenue's flagship store in Manhattan ran an identity theft scam using stolen shoppers' information that netted more than $400,000 worth of designer shoes, handbags and accessories, authorities said.

The sophisticated scheme funneled stolen data to corrupt salespeople to create sham transactions, complete with phony shoppers on the other side of the register, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. and federal authorities said on Monday.

The haul included a roughly $10,000 Yves St. Laurent handbag, $2,000-a-pair shoes and brand names such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Louboutin and Kate Spade, he said.

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More than $400,000 worth of designer shoes, handbags and accessories was fraudulently bought from Saks Fifth Avenue's flagship store in Manhattan (pictured) using stolen shoppers' information, it's been alleged

At least eight people, including four Saks employees, were part of the identity theft ring, officials said, and have been charged with various offenses.

Take this critical first step, before you hire people. Request a sample of our Step One Survey integrity test. It will save you hundreds of thousands of dollars, shrinkage and sleepless nights while insuring that you hire honest, reliable, hardworking employees!   And the return on investment is enormous.

Request a sample report

The Staggering Cost of a Bad Hire

Finding the right person for the job isn't easy. Often times, the position will go unfilled for a while and it becomes very tempting to hire a mediocre person, or someone who isn't completely qualified.  However, the cost of a bad hire can have dramatic effects on your business.  Take a look at this infographic based off of a survey from Careerbuilder.


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