Recovering from a Bad Hire

A bad hire can be a costly, frustrating, and time-consuming mistake. The US Department of Labor has estimated that the cost of a single bad hire equals up to 30% of the employee’s first-year salary. The time and money spent to find, hire, and train these bad hires will all be for naught, and what’s worse is that you will still be on the hook to repeat the process when you inevitably must replace the employee who didn’t work out. It’s a discouraging, frustrating, and stressful experience for hiring managers, but it’s not all doom and gloom. With the benefit of hindsight on your side, you’ll find your ability to recover from a bad hire – and hopefully, save yourself from another in the future – is greatly improved.

Act quickly

The moment that you realize you have made a poor hiring decision, you should begin taking steps to correct it. In most instances, the bad hire should be let go as soon as you realize your mistake. While it might be tempting to keep them on until a suitable replacement can be found, they may be doing more harm than good during that time, leaving you with more of a mess to clean up in the end. As soon as it’s feasible, you should cut ties and begin the process of recovering.

Take a step back

Your next step on the road to recovery from a poor hiring decision is a bit of thoughtful reflection. Time is always of the essence when you have a talent need, but taking a beat is crucial to making your next hire a better one. Going off half-cocked and rushing to find a replacement isn’t going to do you any favors in the long run, so spend some time analyzing and reflecting on the employee who didn’t work out.

Ask the right questions

Think through any red flags that you might have missed during the hiring process that could have potentially given you a heads-up that the candidate wasn’t the best fit. Once you’ve identified them, you can remind yourself to keep an eye out in the future. Consider where and how you found the candidate, and try to discern what questions you could have asked that might have exposed the shortcomings in advance. Doing this will help you make better selections in the future.

Ask others

Relying on only your own input is limiting and ill-advised, which is why many companies form interview panels or conduct multiple rounds of candidate screening. You should apply this strategy to analyzing your bad hire, as well. Others may have noticed things which you overlooked, so their input could prove valuable in improving your screening process in the future.

If (or more likely when) a bad hiring decision is made, it isn’t the end of the world. While it can be costly and frustrating, if you act quickly, take the time to learn from the experience, develop a better strategy for the future, and share the burden a bit, it will hopefully be a long time before you find yourself in a similar situation.


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