What are the things applicants do that are nails on the chalkboard for you? Not showing up early for an interview, talking about their parents, choosing to play video games for a hobby, wearing blue jeans to an interview… these are just a few that I have heard from business owners over the years. And contextually, these can be very valid concerns. But as it relates to the selection and hiring processes, pet peeves are hidden expectations, ineffective measuring tools, and distractions from the main focus.

If the applicant shows up on time for the 2 p.m. interview, but you believe that “on time is 15 minutes early”, they have “failed” to meet a hidden expectation. I have heard company leaders complain that their team is not meeting expectations, and my immediate response is: “Did you tell them what the expectations are?” I have yet to meet the person who can read someone’s mind. If you want something to happen, make it an expectation and communicate it. Only after you have communicated an expectation can you use it as a measuring stick.

A pet peeve is a hidden expectation, and therefore, if an ineffective measuring tool. If want to measure an applicant, ask them specifically to do something. Example: bring something to the live interview (driver’s license, resume, etc), schedule a phone interview and expect them to answer when you call, during an interview, ask the applicant to tell you about 2 of their accomplishments. None of these are hidden, the expectations are clear, and the results are clear: the applicant is either motivated or not to work for you which is an indicator of future choices.

If you spend your time worrying about pet peeves, it really distracts from the main focus: assessing an applicant’s stability. Assessing stability helps you understand whether or not an applicant will be a building block on your team which impacts sales and profit. Stability enables an employee to show up to work on time, work hard, and have a great attitude, and what company owner doesn’t want that!