Posted July 30, 2019

Exclusive: Avoid Hiring Slackers

The best thing you can do with slackers is never hire them in the first place. 

This is the second in a series of articles by Dr. Michael Mercer, Ph.D.

Slacker is a word used to describe a person who exudes

  • laziness
  • lousy work ethic
  • a “don’t care” attitude


  • avoid working
  • goof off a lot
  • encourage other employees to avoid working and goof off

Managers and executives must do everything possible to avoid hiring slackers. Your company and career depend on (A) keeping slackers off your payroll and also (B) hiring highly productive employees.


You can use pre-employment tests and other methods to assess job applicants so you avoid hiring slackers.


For white-collar jobs, use two types of pre-employment tests. First, use a personality or behavior test to predict the applicant’s interpersonal skills, personality traits, and work motivations. 

In my testing experience and research for many companies, I often find slackers get personality test scores like the following:

1.  super-high score on Friendliness

            That means they will socialize rather than work!

2.  low score on Following Rules, Policies, & Procedures

            They will rebel against your company’s proven work methods!

3.  low score on Subjective Reaction to Pressure

            They love doing 3 actions:  Whine, Moan, & Complain!

4.  low score on Optimism

            They love wallowing in problems, not solutions.

5.  high score on Emotionally-Focused

            They crave personal drama, drama, and more drama! 

6.  high score on Creativity Motivation

            They hate + criticize your company’s proven work methods!

Second, also give pre-employment intelligence tests.  After all, you must know if an applicant has enough brains to (a) learn the job and (b) correctly think through situations they encounter on-the-job. 

Make benchmark pre-employment test scores based on test scores of your company’s best - “Superstar” - employees in each job. Then, you objectively can compare your best employees’ test scores versus the applicant’s test scores, and see if they are similar or different. You, of course, prefer applicants whose pre-employment test scores indicate they have qualities similar to your best, “Superstar” employees.

For blue-collar or lower-level or laborer jobs, give a test of dependability or responsibility. Such a test delves tells you about many work-related qualities, especially Work Ethic and Impulsiveness. You certainly want to focus on hiring applicants who get

>  high pre-employment tests scores on Work Ethic

>  low test scores on Impulsiveness


Make sure you ask a lot of open-ended questions. Such questions help you discover the applicant’s thoughts, needs, feeling, opinions, goals and experiences on job-related factors. 


If applicant’s pre-employment test scores are similar to your company’s benchmark scores for the job and also applicant impressed you in job interview, then do RJO. To do RJO, have applicant spend a half-day following one of your employees doing the job while the applicant observes. From this, your employee can see if applicant expresses enthusiasm for doing the actual work. And the applicant can see the work actually required on-the-job – which may or may not be to the applicant’s liking.


Pre-employment tests, in-depth job interviews and realistic job observations help you do pre-hire screening. Then, you can focus on hiring applicants who are likely to be both

A. highly productive

B.  low turnover. 

And that’s how you avoid hiring slackers!

Michael Mercer, Ph.D., created 3 “Forecaster Tests” – pre-employment tests. Companies use his tests to predict which job applicants may succeed (or fail) on-the-job, if hired. Dr. Mercer wrote the book, Hire the Best & Avoid the Rest. You can see information about his 3 “Forecaster” pre-employment tests at

© Copyright 2019 Mercer Systems LLC Reprinted with permission.