Fake HR exec weeds out bad hires

by |

It can be hard to garner a person’s true personality in a half-hour interview; they seem nice enough; the skill set is there and they're hired. A few weeks into employment it turns out they are not such a great person – they’re a bad hire.

So how can HR help circumvent hiring someone who lacks in the manners department? According to WordofMouth.org CEO Andy Sernovitz have a fake HR professional – it’s a technique he employs himself at his company.

Writing on his blog Sernovitz explained his method:

“We have a fake head of HR named Preston Firestone. Job seekers call and ask for Preston (who is never there, of course). We listen to how they treat the person who answered the phone. Preston has saved us again and again from someone who would have been hired, but was actually a complete p***k.”

Sernovitz wrote it was a lesson he learnt early on his career and recommends paying close attention to how people treat those who are junior to them to establish where their manners lie.

His approach has been met with positive feedback – McCarthy Building Companies Corporate Director of Staffing, R. J Morris, writing a blog post for Fistful of Talent, that he appreciated the test that gauged how potential candidates treat people when no one is looking.

He stated his company also took a different approach to interviews to also discover the “realness” of potential hires.

“In our shop, when college engineers visit, we get them to a dinner or to tour multiple jobsites. Part of this is a realistic job preview, but the other part is exposing the candidate to lots of our people and vice versa. Afterwards, we quiz everyone they met with—from formal interviewers to the staff members who drove them around,” he wrote.

“We are not trying to trick anyone—we just believe you get to see the ‘realness’ of people when you take them out of a traditional interview and gather multiple data points.”

He added that if manners are important to a company then organizations should try and find a way to measure it. According to him Preston Firestone is a “decent start”.

Would you go to this extreme? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

  • Leah Morgan on 2013-12-06 9:59:17 AM

    I read in an article years ago that Donald Trump takes prospective employees out for lunch and pre-arranges with the restaurant to mess up the lunch order. He then observes the prospective employee's reaction, noting if the employee is more interested in correcting their lunch order or in discussing the job.

  • lori on 2013-12-06 10:12:20 AM

    receptionists are also great people to let HR know what someone is truly like. people are often very pushy and rude when they want to see an HR person to drop them resume off too etc. these days so much of that is done online this doesn't happen as often BUT, they do see many candidates before they are even a consideration. i used ours a lot years back to screen people.

  • Nancy Quattrocchi on 2013-12-09 7:38:41 AM

    We routinely ask our receptionist how the candidate(s) treated her when they arrived. If we are running late in between interviews, we specifically check in with the receptionist to see how the next candidate handled this. We were shocked to get some of the feedback we did and it saved us numerous times. I highly recommend this type of offline interview as it definitely exposes the candidate's weaknesses if he or she has any.

HRM Online forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

Name (required)
Comment (required)
By submitting, I agree to the Terms & Conditions