The lighter side: Fake HR person to weed out bad hires

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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 so you hire them. A few weeks later, it turns out they’re rude and disrespectful.

How can HR avoid this situation? According to WordofMouth.org CEO Andy Sernovitz, the answer is to have a fake HR professional.

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 in his career and recommends paying close attention to how people treat those who are junior to them as an insight to their disposition and courteousness.

Sernovitz is not alone in his approach. McCarthy Building Companies corporate director of staffing R J Morris describes thus how his company discovers 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.

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