“I wish I had remembered that as soon as you hire someone, you sign yourself up for the possibility of having to fire them.” This is a quote from a Business Insider article entitled 10 things people don’t talk about in business– but should.
As I thought about this quote and the article as a whole, I realized so many similarities between taking someone on in the business world and taking someone on in one’s personal world. In both, the very thing that makes someone an incredible human being is the same thing that can lead to their downfall: Giving someone the benefit of the doubt even though red flags pop up as fast and as vibrantly as fireworks on the 4th of July.
Truth: Asking hard questions can be awkward, but it’s necessary.
Asking the hard questions is quite possibly one of the largest avoidances of all time. It’s right up there with the stench of spoiled milk, the horror scene of a baby crib whose occupant decided to rub all the contents of her diaper on ever slat, and our son’s sweaty football uniform that hasn’t been washed in a week because of some kind of team pact and bonding ritual. But just like returning from vacation and finding rotten milk in the fridge and opening your child’s nursery and your nose hairs coiling up in fear from the stench and finding your son’s I’m-old-enough-to-sweat-like-a-man-but-not-old-enough-to-know-when hygiene-trumps-a-pinky-promise, you must be prepared to tackle the uncomfortable. You must ask the hard questions if you are to better ensure you hire someone who isn’t one of your future fires.
Now, asking difficult questions does not imply disrespect or rudeness. Two people, whether in the professional or personal world, should be able to address red flags they see about both the person and the relationship in general. If you are not comfortable doing this or the other person is confrontational when you do ask the hard questions, you may have just discovered another red flag… this is a discovery you should be grateful for and that will lead you to a more informed decision regarding how to best proceed with the relationship.
Interviewing isn’t easy
As much as we think it’s hard to be interviewed, it can be just as tough to be the interviewer. The interviewer must discuss the things from the interviewee’s past that give cause for pause or even alarm. Too often does an interviewer worry more about how they and the company are perceived by the interviewee than they are truly making sure the interviewee is a great fit for their team and business.
Ask the hard questions when you interview.
To put it bluntly, you are not interviewing someone for the position of your best man or maid-of-honor at your wedding. Although you should be friendly and respectful, you also need to confront every possible issue, whether it’s in regard to personality or past job performance. Leave no stone unturned because the very stone that you don’t want to flip over, may make you contemplate this same person’s exit when he or she undoubtedly flips it over themselves.
As most know already, it’s easy to hire someone but it’s excruciatingly difficult to fire someone. This is why people with poor job performance and even worse attitudes collect a paycheck until the day they retire. As an interviewer, you must do everything in your power to better ensure you’re hiring part of your businesses’ sails, not its rusty anchor.
You’re not a pessimist. You are a right-fit seeker.
It may seem pessimistic to look at a potential hire and think to yourself “is there anything about this person that could make him or her firing potential in the future,” but it’s important that you do just that. And the response to the hard questions may surprise you. The way an employee handles themselves when asked about a smudge on their professional record may lead to a discovery of their lessons-learned and may expose a self-reflective and resilient nature that is so moving that you reach for the hiring paperwork even quicker than you imagined. Or their response may be a clear sign that the best thing you can do for both your own stress and your company is to thank the interviewee for their time and wish them well on their journey.
No one is perfect and we all have a past but if someone hasn’t learned from past hiccups, it’s important for an interviewer to know. Otherwise, they might as well paperclip the firing paperwork to their new hire’s folder as soon as their interviewee accepts the job.
Author: Evelyn Lindell