Hiring Tips

Never Hire a Honey Badger

Never Hire a Honey Badger
Image credit: Shutterstock

A couple of years back, there was a phenomenal (and by phenomenal, I mean completely offensive, juvenile and NSFW) video about an animal called the honey badger, who just doesn’t care about anything (or in the words of the video, doesn’t give a s#!t).

While honey badgers are incredibly amusing to watch on video, you don’t want one near your business. So, whether you are hiring employees, working with service providers or partnering with competitors, here are seven steps on how to avoid working with a “honey badger.”

1. Ask thoughtful questions.

Before you jump in, ask questions that hone in on issues that are critical to you and your work style. Ask applicants to describe their nightmare employer or client. Ask them how many weekends they have worked in the past three years or what time they usually leave the office. Test them on the key skills that they say they have.

For example, whenever someone says he or she is proficient in Microsoft Excel, I ask the person to tell me how he or she would use certain basic formulas, which often leads to finding out that the individual has exaggerated his or her proficiency. You can even give them a take-home case study and see what kind of effort they put into it as a gauge of how much they care about their work.

Related: Your Ideas Have No Value

2. Try before you buy. 

Try one or several people simultaneously on a contractor or trial basis and have them compete for the full-time job or for you as a client. If the individual isn’t willing to put out a killer effort to land the opportunity, the chances are that he or she isn’t going to be on any better behavior once the person starts working with you full-time. 

3. Do a background check on social media. 

How does the person handle him or herself on social media? Does the person overshare? Does he or she ever speak negatively about a client, customer or their employer? 

Doing a Google search and peeking into Twitter, Facebook and their blog is a quick way to get a sense of how someone conducts themselves and whether they care about those that they work with.

4. Pay attention to their communication style.

The way a prospective employee, service provider or partner communicates with you in an email or phone call is likely the way they communicate with everyone. If the way that they communicate or handle themselves is not how you want your brand handled, use that as a litmus test for honey-badgerdom.

I have made the mistake of overlooking emails and calls that were too gruff or more like a stream-of-consciousness only to find out that that’s the way that person behaved when representing my business.

Related: The Best Type of Social Network Is a Phone Call Away

5. Do detailed reference checks.

Great resumes, testimonials or friendships shouldn’t supplant the need to do a few reference checks. Make sure to ask questions that get the person providing the reference talking and read between the lines on answers. Focus on the traits that are important to you. Ask questions about the style of the person’s communication, if they are more of an attention to detail or visionary worker, or other questions that don’t require the person providing the reference to throw anyone under the bus, but will still key you in to their style.

6. Hire for values, not just skills.

You can teach someone how to use a certain software program or train them on the best way to answer an email. You cannot teach someone to care. Be willing to look at great people with outstanding work ethics and who share your core values, even if they don’t have the perfect resume in terms of skills.

7. Listen to your gut. 

One of the most underrated mechanisms we have for avoiding issues is to listen to our own guts. If something seems off or if any red flag is raised, don’t brush it aside. If it doesn’t feel right to you, then wait for something -- or someone -- better to come along.

With some effort you can avoid working with individuals with poor, cavalier attitudes. While nobody may care about your business as much as you do, you still want to find people with a strong work ethic and desire to excel, instead of the common honey badger.

Related: Simple Yet Powerful Business Lessons From a Broke Entrepreneur Turned Multi-Millionaire