How Hiring Teams Can Spot a Potential Job Hopper in an Interview

Posted by The ConveyIQ Team

What’s the only thing more disappointing for a hiring leader than losing brilliant talent that’s been loyal to the company for a lifetime? Losing an employee who joined so recently, you haven’t even had the chance to activate their key card yet. Given the amount of time and energy that goes into sourcing, interviewing, and onboarding candidates, it’s understandable that there’s a real concern around mistakenly hiring a jumper – a fear that’s only exacerbated by reports that job hopping is the new norm.
It’s why so much attention is given to not just retention strategies, but also preventative measures that recruiters can implement to ensure they hire candidates who’ll stick around. The question is, aside from scrutinizing resumes, how do you identify someone who’s a potential flight risk?
LiveCareer’s recently released 2018 Job-Hopping Report, which looks at whether certain demographic factors might be linked to job churn, reveals some important insights that could help hiring managers pick out potential hoppers in interviews.

Millennials Are Not The Problem

Despite the popular belief that the millennial worker is a compulsive job hopper, the report backs up recent research that argues that younger generations aren’t any more noncommittal than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. It shows that, while the amount of time spent in positions does decrease across generations, this has more to do with life and career stage than anything else.
In other words, fixating on generational factors is not a reliable way to assess whether a candidate might abandon their post. It would be misguided to assume that millennials and members of Gen Z are going to hop solely because they’re part of a certain cohort.

Beware Of The Overly Educated

What is a good gauge of job-hopping tendencies, the report shows, is education level. Results reveal that there’s a link between higher education and shorter job tenure, with high school graduates spending 33 percent more time in jobs than employees with bachelor’s degrees. Importantly, this finding intersects with the fact that there seems to be a large portion of the workforce today that is too qualified, as far as education goes, for the jobs they’re applying for.
This is especially the case for non-professional, or blue-collar, jobseekers, like bartenders, cashiers and caregivers, who tend to possess more qualifications and credentials than employers require them to. For example, servers, who have a particularly high affinity for job hopping, list a bachelor’s degree on their resumes 21 percent of the time, when only 10 percent of job ads for this occupation require one. That said, this imbalance, while not quite as large, definitely exists in the white-collar world too.
It follows, then, that the key to identifying flight risks is to look out for candidates whose level of education significantly outweighs the demands of the position you’re aiming to fill. It makes sense, after all, that those who are in “lesser” roles will jump at more stimulating, and better paying, opportunities if they come up. Wouldn’t most of us?

Careful Questioning Is Key

That’s not to say you should take one look at the resume of a disproportionately educated applicant and toss it into the No pile. There are obvious advantages to having highly qualified staff on board, so you don’t want to dismiss them right away. Rather, give the candidate a chance to interview with you and consider asking questions like these to determine how likely they are to leap soon after joining:

  • What are you looking for in your next job? / Why are you interested in this role particularly? Both questions aim to reveal a jobseeker’s motivation for applying. Maybe they’re not looking for a challenging, high-level position. Maybe they just want stability and great colleagues.
  • What’s your understanding of the day-to-day demands of this job? / Are there any parts of the role you feel wouldn’t engage you? By sussing out how realistic a candidate’s expectations of the job are, you can get a sense for whether they might feel unfulfilled and jump.
  • What motivated you to study XYZ, and how do you think you’ll apply your qualifications to this role? It’s possible that their interests and values have shifted since studying. Again, it’s about expectations – are they hoping to match their credentials and responsibilities?
  • How do you feel about reporting to someone who doesn’t have the kind of educational background you do? Listen out for conservative views on reporting structures or suggestions that they consider something “beneath” them.
  • Where do you see yourself in a year? No one’s going to say “not here,” but that’s not the point of the question. Rather, it’s to get a feel for how ambitious the applicant is, and how well the job will align with their goals and life stage.

Remember, you can always directly ask whether the candidate would be willing to commit to the job for a set amount of time. But you run the risk of antagonizing the person, and you always want to give interviewees a positive candidate experience – job-hopper or not.
Additional takeaways for hiring teams and recruiters, plus a PDF download of the full report, are available via this link: 2018 Job-Hopping Report.
About the author: Since 2005, LiveCareer’s team of career coaches, certified resume writers, and savvy technologists have been developing career tools that have helped over 10 million users write persuasive, top-notch resumes and cover letters. Put their free, easy-to-use resume builder to work, or peruse their collection of resume templates, which are organized by industry and job title.

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