Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

NO MANAGER wants to hire someone who is going to turn around and quit after a year on the job. But how can you tell if a candidate is going to stick around, especially if he or she has a history of job hopping?

1. Take a closer look. Don’t immediately discount a candidate who’s had three jobs in two years. There may be good reason. For example, if you are looking at the resume of a recent college graduate, he may have made a rookie mistake and listed all of his internships along with his current job under the employment category. The candidate looks like a job hopper, when in fact he’s really a workaholic.

2. When the candidate comes in for an interview, dig deeper. Start with her oldest position and work your way up. For each job, ask two questions: Why did you leave the position, and why did you take the next one? End by asking the candidate about her current position and what she is looking for in her next job. Listen for patterns. Once you know a candidate’s reasons for changing jobs, the question you need to ask yourself is, "What does that behaviour pattern mean for me and my team?"

3. If you’re still worried she’ll leave, ask her to commit to a reasonable length of time in the job; it almost always works. The pitch has to be personal, have a reasonable time limit and include a rationale. If the person seems hesitant, give her a day to think it over and get back to you. If you get a quick "yes", you may have found the star employee you are looking for.

With these techniques, you will never have to worry about hiring a problematic job hopper again — you’ll know how to weed them out. But even more important, you’ll learn how to identify great hires that others may pass over for the gaps or short stints on their resumes. After all, seeing an opportunity that others ignore is what business is all about.

(Adapted from "How to Interview and Assess a Serial Job Hopper" at HBR.org.)

© 2015 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp