Identifying toxic behaviour before hiring

Every company has a few tried and tested methods to prevent toxic hires from entering the workplace


During any interview, the goal is to hire the best talent for the workplace. This involves eliminating the bad apples, and toxic behaviour is certainly one of the traits to look out for. Every interviewer has her or his own way of finding out what kind of person the candidate is. However, there are some regular and some new methods used to determine the right fit for any role.

An interview is essentially an artificial construct, where the candidates trying to show their best side and at times even the interviewers do the same in an attempt to project the company in the best light. In such a scenario, it is difficult to truly gauge the other person. Fortunately, there are a few methods that can help

Psychometric test

The first tool of choice, a psychometric test helps measure a candidate’s suitability for a role, based on the required personality characteristics and aptitude. There are many tests to choose from, and the goal is to find out how a candidate measures up in terms of behaviour.

Sudheesh Venkatesh

Despite all measures one might find few surprises later in the workplace, however they still ensure that there is a lower error rate

The psychometric test, however, is not a rejection tool, and should never be used as one. Chandrasekhar Mukherjee, CHRO, Magic Bus, says, “The test is a way to reconfirm the feedback gathered from the test in a competency-based interview.”

For instance, the psychometric test will reveal the trigger points for any person and then the interviewer can work on those trigger points to confirm the feedback from the test. Therefore, if the psychometric test says that a person gets angry under stress, the interviewer should put that person under stress and then observe the reaction to that stress to find out whether it actually happens or not.

Handwriting analysis

A lot of employers use handwriting analysis or graphology to determine a candidate’s suitability for any role. Graphologists can determine many aspects of a person’s personality— from mental status to sexual preferences— from their handwriting. Handwriting analysis has been in use since the 1990s. However, it is relatively new in India.

For instance, graphology relies on the belief that those who have a fast and cursive writing are result oriented, possess excellent communication skills and are suited for front-office jobs. Those with disconnected lettering are more calculative in their approach and are suited for management-level jobs.

Reference checks

A rigorous reference check is a must. This is a relatively basic method but one has to be careful that requires caution. While such checks are usually outsourced to third parties, there needs to be a check from the company as well. Also, one needs to be careful with whom one is checking. Each and every person in the organisation will have some people who dislike her/him. A reference check including only those few people may lead to losing good talent.

Chandrasekhar Mukherjee

The competency based interview is a way to reconfirm the feedback gathered from the psychometric test results

CIBIL score

One may think this is unrelated. However, the credibility of people, to a large extent, is determined by the way they manage their finances. Even if there are genuine reasons for the bad credit score of people, employers may read them as a sign of irresponsible behaviour. Moreover, a person with a bad credit score may be seen as dishonest and a potential threat to the workplace.

There is also the fact that financial difficulties are likely to affect a person’s performance at work, and any employer would prefer to minimise the risk.

Sudheesh Venkatesh, CPO, Azim Premji Foundation, concludes, “Despite all measures one may find few surprises later in the workplace. However, they still ensure that there is a lower error rate.”

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