4 behaviors of toxic employees that you can catch in the interview

Recruiters, you might want to think twice about a job candidate who acts this way during the interview process. Toxic employees could cost your company financially and emotionally.

Illustration: Ashley Siebels

It can be easy for a job candidate who is new a specific work environment to make a bad first impression when showing up in person, but certain behaviors are inexcusable.

Recruiters, you might want to think twice about candidates who act this way during the interview process, because as Quartz at Work points out, “toxic employees” could cost your company financially and emotionally.

The candidate is excessively late

We know, it happens to the best of us. After mapping out the route the night before, a candidate could get stuck in traffic or even take the wrong train or bus and end up far away from the interview location.

But while being even five minutes late to an interview can send the wrong idea to a recruiter, being tardy by 30 minutes, an hour or even more could absolutely land a candidate in the “rejected” category.

The candidate talks down to the reception person

You know how it’s a bad sign when someone you’re eating a meal with at a restaurant belittles the person taking their order? The same applies to the person checking in a candidate at the beginning of an in-person interview.

Job seekers should know better than to act arrogantly to the reception person by the front door, and not just because they’re actively looking for employment.


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This is another sign that this person could be tricky to work with.

The candidate badmouths their previous employer

You can tell that this person will actively spread workplace gossip, and live to single out coworkers behind closed doors.

If the candidate acts like a know-it-all, and haughtily bashes the fact that they “simply couldn’t be challenged enough” at their last job, this might be a red flag.

Candidates should show that they are open to taking on more responsibility, but there are more discrete ways of putting this. You want to make sure the person you’re hiring understands the subtleties of interacting with people on the job.

It should also be obvious that badmouthing a company or manager that they’ve listed as a reference is a bad idea.

The candidate doesn’t know about the company and/or the position

Job seekers should never “wing it” to the point that they don’t know anything about the company or the job they’re interviewing for.

This is a huge signal that if you bring them on board, there’s a good chance that they won’t try to learn the material required for their new job or be able to communicate the company’s vision to clients.

How could someone like this represent your company in meetings or at conferences?

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Jane Burnett|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at jburnett@theladders.com.