How to Handle a Bad Hire - 6 Practical Tips
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How to Handle a Bad Hire – 6 Practical Tips

Post Author - Mile Zivkovic Mile Zivkovic Last Updated:

In the world of business, one of the most expensive mistakes you can make is hiring the wrong person. Hiring can be a challenge, even with the latest tech and the best HR department. But sometimes, no matter how you approach your hiring, you just end up with a bad hire.

This situation isn’t ideal, but if/when it does happen, here’s how you can handle it gracefully, respectfully, and professionally.

1. Ask around with their coworkers first

The first few weeks of a new role can be stressful and it’s normal that it takes time to adapt. Is the hire really a bad one, or could you just have the wrong impression? New hires typically take 6 months to a year to become fully productive, so don’t rush to judge. However, there are warning signs that your new hire’s attitude is maybe not best suited to their new role: for:

  • Constant complaints from the employee about the job or their coworkers
  • Failure to meet deadlines
  • General disinterest in the job
  • Completely different behavior from that shown in the interview
  • Complaints from their coworkers and managers

Give your new hire time to adjust, but if any unusual behavior is flagged to you, make sure you’re being reasonable in your assessment and look for patterns before making any radical decisions or having any tough conversations.

how bad hires affect business

2. Find out if training is an option

There could be a number of reasons why you made a bad hiring move. The new employee could be lacking in soft skills and they may not be a good team player or communicator, in which case, letting them go is the logical move. However, if they’re lacking in hard, job-related skills, this can be amended by training.

It’s up to you to once again determine if this makes sense financially. Depending on how much time you need to spend training them to reach their full potential, you might be better off firing them and finding someone else for the role. If you want to avoid making bad hires because of a lack of job skills, make sure to use a pre-employment assessment tool such as Toggl Hire.

If they truly are not fit for the job, it’s highly important that they recognize their shortcomings and that they are willing to overcome them. At the same time, you also need to cut them some slack because you’re the one who did not make sure that they possess these skills before hiring.

3. Have an honest conversation

Don’t beat around the bush – have a conversation with the employee as soon as you can and be as honest as possible. Tell the employee what the problem is, where your expectations are not met, and what could be done to make an improvement. Equally, give them the space to express if they feel you as an employer could be more supportive of their success in the role. In some cases, this might be all that’s needed to turn things around. In other cases, the employee may feel the same way as you do and they’ll agree that moving on and leaving is the best choice.

As part of this conversation, make sure to apologize, no matter how hard it may seem. While the candidate could have misled you into making this choice, it was ultimately your duty to ensure that they were a good fit before bringing them into your team. If they had to leave their previous role to join your team – even more of a reason to be apologetic. Take responsibility and own your mistakes.

why companies hire bad employees

4. Figure out the costs of firing

If your first reaction is to fire the bad hire no matter what, hold your horses and do some math first. Every time you fire someone, there are additional costs to consider, besides hiring for the same role once again. You’ll need to offer severance pay, arrange their last day, prepare the paperwork, and have your HR team do additional work.

There are other, more intangible costs of firing someone. What will be the reaction of your team when they see someone joining and leaving so quickly? Think about team morale before making the decision.

Moreover, consider that you should be generous when firing this person and offer them good severance pay. Chances are that they were between jobs before they joined you and that they will take some time to find a new role.

5. Fire fast

It will take at least 6-12 months for the new hire to add value and become a fully productive team member. However, if someone’s not working out as a new hire for your team, you’ll know it pretty fast, usually within the first few days. Watch out for signs such as a toxic attitude that’s holding back the rest of your team.

There are two things that you can do in this situation – let them stick around and wait until things improve (if they do at all) or fire them fast. 

The decision to fire should always be the last resort. If you do decide to go this way, you’ll want to arm yourself with highly specific feedback from their coworkers and managers. You want them to have an insight into what they did wrong. 

6. Use it as a learning experience

Everyone can make a poor hiring decision. Instead of accepting and moving on, use it as a learning experience to find out what happened and how you can prevent it from happening in the future. Try to have an earnest conversation with the employee to find out why they applied and list the reasons why you hired them. Think of it as an exit interview.

In many cases, you’ll realize that your job ad was misleading and listed the wrong kinds of requirements and job duties. Perhaps you didn’t test the candidates’ skills thoroughly or you embellished the role too much and the employee ended up disappointed when they actually started. There could be a number of things that went wrong, so investigate the cause and prevent it in the future. 

Wrapping up

Making a bad hire can be a daunting experience that costs significant time and money. At the same time, you can use it to learn more about your hiring processes and candidate experience and find ways to improve both. Just like any mistake, it can be extremely valuable if you use it to learn for next time.

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