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If you’re in human resources or management and you don’t learn the actual reason why job candidates quit their jobs, you’re asking for trouble.

You’ll likely experience disappointment, unnecessary costs and loss of valuable time, if you don’t know applicants’ history. Many employers have struggled in learning how to fix their hiring processes.

You might be dealing with underachieving applicants who are trying to hide their past. Or you might even be dealing with high achievers who will quit your company for the same reasons they quit their last jobs.

Either way, it’s best to slow the hiring process until you know the reasons. (Also, you should be careful to avoid EEOC discrimination suits.)

Many interviewers fail to get the right answers. The screening process is important. All too often they stop probing after they hear applicants say “I wanted a better job” or “I wanted higher pay.”

Such applicants are very happy for the wrong reason, if they are able to evade scrutiny by giving canned answers.

When you ask applicants why they left their jobs, their first generic answer isn’t always the truth. It denies you the truth of the types of employees you’ll be hiring.

You need to learn if the persons were forced out of their jobs or why the quit of their own volition because bad hires are costly and you must prevent it.

If you or your interviewing staff don’t know how to adroitly interview applicants, get suitable training.

So delve deeper. If you or your interviewing staff don’t know how to adroitly interview applicants, get suitable training.

Beware – the Digital Age has made it easy for job seekers to get tips via the Internet on how to make false answers to create good impressions in answering questions.

To save you grief, don’t risk letting applicants repeat history with your company.

Applicants are usually reluctant to go beyond their canned answers. Instead of settling for potentially disingenuous answers, continue to probe anyway to get at the truth.

How to start

Begin by asking about the persons’ responsibilities in the titles on their resumes. Go back at least three jobs.

Check for progressive steps. If you spot applicants taking lateral positions or even taking lower-status jobs, mention it to them.

Hopefully, candidates will open up with transparency and tell you helpful information. For example, you might learn the applicants didn’t want to mention that they had bad bosses, such as toxic or micromanaging supervisors.

This would be positive information for you and you might interviewing high-quality people, after all.

In turn, this will give you a great opportunity to shine – explaining how your company has a healthier environment for your employees.

Dig deep

Get a comprehensive picture. Follow with questions such as “When did you decide to quit?”

Job searching is not fun for applicants. It’s a lot of work to look for jobs in networking, researching employers, sending resumes and preparing for interviews.

You need to determine what triggered the persons’ impulses whether they quit unprofessionally, or whether it was for more money or to find better employers for their situations. For example, many companies require long hours or want frequent overtime and it might not be what the employees wanted.

So ask applicants why they began exploring their new job prospects, such as “What motivated you to look?” In addition, learn about their tendencies by asking “Did you have a job lined up before you quit?”

It could be a red flag if you learn applicants left their employers without preparing for a new job.

It’s human nature for people to line up a new job before quitting. It could be a red flag if you learn applicants left their employers without preparing for a new job.

The latter places even more importance on due diligence, and to avoid background-screening gaffes and to astutely check references of applicants.

Get an accurate picture

Beware of applicants who don’t give complete dates. Many are disingenuous in wanting to falsely indicate they had continuous employment.

In other words, you’ll need to see starting and ending months for each year in career changes. Ask for complete month and year dates.

Employee gaps might or might not indicate problems. You’ll want to get adequate explanations for any gaps.

There might be legitimate explanations for gaps in their resumes. Some explanations might not even be for career reasons such as taking time off to care for family members.

Some industries such as broadcasting are known for notoriously high turnover, and it usually isn’t the fault of the employees.

On the other hand, gaps could indicate terminations and inabilities to find another job.

Final actions

Don’t be apprehensive in digging for information. Your job is to interview and check applicants thoroughly. You could also be actually helping the applicants.

When you learn the real reasons why applicants left their jobs, you’ll find out what you need to know and what will be the right thing for your organization – either to hire or pass on applicants.

Should you be close to hiring candidates, introduce them to key members of your team. Invite them to get to know each other, and then ask for your employees’ input about the applicant. This makes for a good hiring insurance policy.

You’ll learn applicants sometimes let their hair down with your employees and unknowingly say something that would disqualify them. Or they’ll say something that creates a favorable impression with your staff members. Either way, it will improve your relationship with your employees.

Good luck! Effective communication, teamwork, transparency and honesty are best for a trusting and successful employer-employee relationship.

From the Coach’s Corner, see these valuable, related strategies:

HR – Update Your Approach to Interviewing Applicants — In the hiring process, certainly you need to learn how applicants, think, work and perform. But many types of interview questions have become outdated. Here are best practices.

Management: Are You Stressed over Unfilled Positions? — If you’re having difficulty in recruiting workers — you’re not alone — so you might have to put on a new set of glasses in how you view your recruiting process.

How to Hire Motivated People to Benefit Your Organization Bad hires cost you a lot more than paying to train your interviewers to become skilled. Here’s how to hire candidates who have an attitude to achieve — high performers — not impostors.

Right Way to Implement Remote Working for New Hires — With the push for remote working that has been occurring for the past year and a half, employers need to recreate the process in order to fit the new landscape of working.

In Virtual Onboarding of Employees, Use Law of Attraction — For success in virtually onboarding remote employees, businesses must use the law-of-attraction approach – just as they’ve done for decades in attracting new customers.

“Good luck is when opportunity meets preparation, while bad luck is when lack of preparation meets reality.”

-Eliyahu Goldratt


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.