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Exposing the Evil Employee and Toxic Trainee

Exposing the Evil Employee and Toxic Trainee

They have cost thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of unnecessary work. You know them. The bad employees, incompetent contractors, toxic trainees, dishonest partners or (heaven help us) the crazy dates.

Many times I have been forced to accept and train people who were ill-suited for the army reserves (or the workforce in general). Fortunately, there is a useful tool for exposing toxic trainees.

(By toxic, I do not mean socially awkward, timid or inexperienced. I mean potential personal problems down the road. Often the these poisonous types can ruin a work place and result in legal issues.)

We are also talking about recruits who have already been screened by the recruiting centers. (Who I swear sometimes just check the applicant’s pulse.) As well, they are personally interviewed by the course officer. Again, they can slide through this process with generic answers.

(One of the exceptions was a guy in his late twenties who told the course officer that women should always be subservient to men. That was a red flag right there.)

The handiest tools for exposing a person’s psyche can be what we used to do in elementary school. Namely, hand write a 400 word essay with certain criteria such as family, school, favourite activities and why you joined this organization.

This basic task will reveal so much about the trainee in a single glance.

First, did they follow instructions? Often, the lazy or confused recruits will write less than 200 words and not follow the guidelines. And, second, sometimes their handwriting is confused and difficult to read. So, I keep these copies and have them re-write the assignment.

Thirdly, is where it gets interesting and where the red flags start popping up. Since, the year 2000, I have noticed that many young applicants tend to brag about how great they are. Many believe that they are academic geniuses and Olympic level athletes. One red flag. (Though, they are often just entertaining.) Braggers are usually trying to overcompensate for something.

The next clue to trouble is when they talk in the third person (even though the instructions say first person.)

After that, their are the unique phrases that set them apart. For instance:

“I used to do drugs, but I am alright now.”

“I want to die in battle with my brother.”

“My father ate a cheese sandwich while my mother gave birth to me in the hospital.”

“Simon (talking in the third person) did not get along with the other children.”

“I want to kill myself.”

With these bizarre comments, I often would counsel the trainee to carefully consider their comments and rewrite their essay. But, I always kept the original essay for evidence for the review board, if the trainee proved to be unsuitable. Better to be prepared than regretful.

The essay one takes less than an hour. But can save dozens of hours of extra work.

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