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Bad Hires: Moving Onward & Upward

So you or your company made a bad hire. I bet you’re thinking, what happens now?

Sooner or later, even the most seasoned HR professionals have made a bad hire during their career. There are numerous reasons for this. Maybe the candidate fizzled out on the job, even though their top-notch credentials suggested a perfect fit with your organization. Maybe you recently stepped into an HR role and a particular employee isn’t the right for their position anymore. Whether it’s a financial advisor or an entry-level position, the lasting effect of a bad hire on an organization and its team can be devastating.

Unfortunately, bad hiring is more common than you think.

A CareerBuilder survey found nearly 74% of HR professionals said they’d made a mistake in hiring.

Here at The Temp Connection, we hear it all the time. “We’ve made a bad hire and need to replace them. Can you help us find the right person this time?”

In our experience, “bad hires” are often candidates that were hired without being properly screened and fully vetted. If a company is in a desperate need to fill a vacancy, they sometimes turn to a candidate that has the potential to do the job, but not the exact qualifications.

This is one reason why working with a staffing agency is beneficial. At The Temp Connection, we screen and personally interview the candidate, giving you an additional level of objectivity in your hiring process. We administer assessments to ensure solid skills, perform reference checks and, as appropriate, conduct background checks and drug testing.

What makes someone a bad hire?

According to CareerBuilder, managers spot bad hires when they notice at least one of three red flags:

  • The new employee could not produce the quality of work needed or did not have the skills he or she claimed to have
  • The hire couldn’t get along with the team or had a negative attitude or
  • They wouldn’t show up for work consistently

To determine the cause, managers should take a few steps back and reflect on the beginning stages of the hiring process for this position. A few questions to reflect on are:

  • What did we want this person to do?
  • Are they still performing the agreed upon job, or have duties changed?
  • What job duties/responsibilities did we clearly communicate? What did we not communicate?
  • Is the job what we anticipated?
  • Did we do all we could to make sure they’d succeed? (ex. Provided: Detailed job descriptions, initial training, coaching, improvement plans, mentoring, etc.)

The Lasting Impact

According to the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), a bad hire can result in additional recruitment fees, relocation and training for a replacement, a negative effect on team performance, disruption of work and of projects, lost customers, weakened employer brand and sometimes, litigation fees.

What To Do

Option 1: Reforming a bad hire

If the bad hire is just not a cultural fit for the company, the appropriate response may be more conversational. Sit down with the employee and discuss attitude, appearance, cell phone use or punctuality. Clearly articulate that these issues need to be addressed and could have consequences, regardless of how well they are performing their actual job duties.

Is this bad hire’s performance suffering? If you believe there may be hope for this employee to improve, sit down with them and put together a performance improvement plan. Be straight forward about all expectations in terms of tasks and timelines.

Option 2: Say good-bye

A lot of managers delay letting an employee go. Even if they’re not the right fit for the position, the candidate may be friendly or fit in with the established team. Some managers avoided firing due to logistical reasons, while others may think that it reflects poorly on their leadership and mentoring abilities.

If an employee has been coached on specific performance issues and has been given the resources, support and education needed, yet still fails to improve, it’s time to let them go.

Onward and Upward: How to avoid future bad hires

If given the foresight, we would all avoid making a bad hire in the first place. How do we ensure that making a bad hire doesn’t happen again? Experts suggest employers or managers should:

  • Have a robust interview process with multiple people, diving deep into experience that is critical to the role
  • Use assessments related to the job
  • Thoroughly check references and criminal background
  • Articulate the company culture
  • Have a structured onboarding process, setting up the new employee with a mentor or coach
  • Have frequent, regular performance conversations to communicate what’s going well and areas to work on, particularly early in the process
  • Spend time with the employee, investing in the relationship and determining what the employee needs and is interested in
  • Consider utilizing a staffing agency that can provide candidates and complete the above tasks on your behalf

We sincerely hope you can utilize these tips in your business practice, and hope you’ll allow us to assist with your future employment needs.

Click here to learn more about The Temp Connection and how we can be an asset to you and your company!


Elliana Vaughn joined The Temp Connection team in February 2017. She currently serves The Temp Connection as our Sales & Marketing Coordinator and a Recruiter.

She can be reached via email at elliana@thetempconnection.com.