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1/6/2015
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Jeff Bertolucci
Jeff Bertolucci
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10 Signs You've Hired The Wrong Person

Is the new guy Mr. Negative? Does he shout at the espresso machine? Look for these warning signs before you make the hire.
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(Source for all images: Pixabay)

Newly hired… newly fired?
The interview process went smoothly. Then the trouble started. Turns out that new hire wasn't the enthusiastic, clever, and charismatic person you were expecting. And things got progressively worse.

A bad hire can cost a company valuable time, customers, and money. Of course, the negative impact on the bottom line varies by organization, the employee's role, and the length of time your new worker is allowed to make a mess of things.

In a 2012 CareerBuilder survey, 69% of employers said their company had been "adversely affected" by a bad hire during that year. Of these, 41% of respondents estimated the cost of the bad hire was over $25,000; 24% said it cost them more than $50,000.

A bad hire hurts a company in manifold ways: He or she can degrade employee morale, hinder sales, lead to legal issues and costs (e.g., a sexual harassment lawsuit), and cause clients to take their business elsewhere. And after you've given the bad worker the boot, you've got to factor in the cost and time to train a replacement.

There are three main reasons a new worker is fired, or quits voluntarily, within the first 90 days of employment, according to recruiting firm ReWork: They're not very good at their job or they're hard to work with; they learn something about their new job, boss, or company that leads them to resign; or they get a better offer from another employer.

To avoid these outcomes, an employer should take several essential steps during the hiring process, according to Shane Rasnak, Rework's director of marketing. These include running thorough background checks of candidates, and having finalists talk with team members to catch potential personality clashes. The company should also be up front with finalists about what their day-to-day work responsibilities would be like.

Still, it's not unusual for companies to hire the wrong person. Why? According to the CareerBuilder survey, the main reason is simple: An employer needs to hire someone quickly and rushes the decision-making process. Another common cause is that the company's intelligence on the candidates is incomplete or inaccurate. And then there's the shoulder-shrug response. One in four employers aren't sure why they hired the wrong person, instead chalking it up to "sometimes you just make a mistake," the survey found.

Think you've hired the wrong person? We've outlined 10 key warning signs of a bad hire, so read on. Your next move is up to you.

Jeff Bertolucci is a technology journalist in Los Angeles who writes mostly for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, The Saturday Evening Post, and InformationWeek. View Full Bio

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delphineous
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delphineous,
User Rank: Strategist
1/6/2015 | 10:12:28 AM
Lost premise
The teaser for this article states "Look for these warning signs before you make the hire." - the entire article is after the fact signs; just as it is titled. I'm satisfied with the article and have seen numerous instances exactly as described. It's a shame the teaser editor is so lame!
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
1/6/2015 | 10:40:02 AM
Self-sabotage
Every scenario is unique. There are times when it's the company's fault for misreading a candidate who may be talented but a bad fit. And companies often do a bait and switch on what a job really entails, which can be frustrating for anyone. But if a candidate did well enough in the interview to get the gig, one assumes it's a solid match. This is when self-sabotaging comes into the picture. If your negative traits and poor communication skills get the best of you, you're in trouble. The common thread that runs through this slideshow is that if you're too cynical and not a team player, you're going to have trouble keeping a job.
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
1/6/2015 | 11:04:39 AM
Re: Self-sabotage
What's even more disturbing than getting rid of the person is KEEPING him/her. The hiring manager things, hopefully they will fit in, and lose the one or two things that are causing problems. Nobody shows up with all 10 of these problems, usually it's just one or two. Sometimes is does work out, most times no. Sometimes they transfer the person because the company has made a committment to them. It's a strange, strange world.
mpochan156
IW Pick
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mpochan156,
User Rank: Author
1/6/2015 | 12:23:04 PM
an average hiring process yields average results
What was really distressing was the statement that some companies are "in a hurry." That ensures problems... UNLESS... they design a more efficient Hiring Process. And they will repeat ' we don't have time.' Well... you have time to blow $50,000 on the mistake ? Engage someone else to do it that has experience with IT people. DO NOT expect the average HR department to do it. (not a popular opinion)->  They should be handling the mechanics the hire AFTER they clear the improved process.

We were a rapidly growing business app software company and needed two people a month. Being engineering-minded, we worked the numbers backwards; to get one GREAT hire , we would need to interview 5, review 25 and sift through 50 - 75 if we did an open market ad. 

We re-built our previous Hiring Process ( which was processing 1/4th that number ) and smartly distributed the workload across our teams. We also educated our teams in how to review, interview. We created a new numerical scoring system that focused on the technical skills, people skills and the business acumen, not the usual generic HR stuff. We made each of the final five take an exam ( THAT weeded out several potential 'poor fits' ). The final five was made aware that IF they were hired, they would be on Probation for six months and would have to work out of it. ( that also got rid of a few 'poor fits' ). We also laid out the process in a flowchart and spreadsheet to calculate the time allowed for the hiring tasks for everyone to follow. And we did cast nets in our networks, personal and business.

It worked very well. It can be done. And it will save money and angst and lawsuits. 

Mike

p.s. I love it / cringe when I hear tech startups who just got funded say " we need to hire 140 in the next month." Do they realize how many people they will have to process to get the best ? No. They usually just hire anybody close to the criteria, and then waste time un-hiring them. 
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
1/6/2015 | 2:38:50 PM
Re: an average hiring process yields average results
6 months probation? I am curious if you see anything in months 4-6 that would not be clear in months 1-3. Thanks for the insight.
mpochan156
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mpochan156,
User Rank: Author
1/6/2015 | 4:52:35 PM
re; Re: an average hiring process yields average results
months 1 - 3 were getting the person acclimated and evaluating their basic skils. Months 3 - 6 went into whether they could grasp the industry domain and be highly productive ,and they were assigned to a Customer.

Also we did Performance Reviews every 6 months ( compensation every 12 ) and our Results-Sharing program computed every 6 months ( Results, not Profits ... but that is a whole other story ) 

Mike
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
1/6/2015 | 7:15:41 PM
Re: re; Re: an average hiring process yields average results

@Mike    Sounds like you have a really intense environment.    Not sure I would take the deal.  Six months of probation ?    I think that probably should be on a case by case basis.  

Not sure that is legal though, but most companies tread that line anyhow.

mpochan156
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mpochan156,
User Rank: Author
1/6/2015 | 10:01:39 PM
Re: re; Re: intense... wouldn't take the deal
Intense ? Sure. Rewarding ? Absolutely.  Fun ? You bet. Wild ride ?  woooooooooooo.

Everyone hired ( after the day we implemented it ) was on probation regardless of age, experience, skillset. Everyone also took a test. We the co-founders took tests too. 

Did some people not take the deal ?  Of course. And that meant they didn't fit our culture and intensity. 

Pennsylvania is a 'terminate-at-will' state, so that means probation is ok too. 
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
1/9/2015 | 9:56:53 AM
Re: re; Re: an average hiring process yields average results
My current job has a six month probation period. It is daunting to think about especially in this job market. Unfortunately most states are "at will" so you work at the company's pleasure. Then again the employee is also free to leave when they want to as well.
freespiritny25
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freespiritny25,
User Rank: Ninja
1/8/2015 | 10:58:23 AM
Re: an average hiring process yields average results
@ Laurianne I agree, you can usually tell within a couple of weeks!
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
1/6/2015 | 7:03:11 PM
Re: an average hiring process yields average results

"...you have time to blow $50,000 on the mistake ? "

 

@ Mike       You make a number of great points, and I understand and support most of them, but I have seen many companies blow much more than that.

Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
1/6/2015 | 7:05:50 PM
Re: an average hiring process yields average results

This whole process of weeding out those that make a good fit really does take a lot of time.   Looking at this from a start-up perspective - I can see it taking at least two years to build a strong foundation of suitable colleagues.

Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
1/6/2015 | 8:03:50 PM
Re: an average hiring process yields average results
I agree, if a solid foundation already exists in an organization then, a bad hire will cause damage but the team will manage to make the best out of a given situation.

Generally, I feel that the best teams are also the most welcoming and they try to accommodate a new comer.

 
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
1/9/2015 | 9:43:31 AM
Re: an average hiring process yields average results
Agreed you have to work with the new person. It is in everyone's best interest for this person to succeed. Especially since today companies take their time in hiring a person.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
1/6/2015 | 7:12:05 PM
Re: an average hiring process yields average results

It seems to me that one of the questions to ask is why the hiring process so difficult ?   Are candidates not qualified ?  Or does HR really understand what they are looking for in the first place ?    It is probably a combination of many things of course, but this adverserial relationship is counter - productive at best.

 

It is HR's job to stop those at the gate who are obviously not a decent fit, it is easy to see ( at least for me ) whether someone will be a good fit in the environment during the interview.    

Often this important element of filling positions is badly missed by would be managers.

vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
1/7/2015 | 12:44:45 AM
Re: an average hiring process yields average results
What happens if the problem isn't the new hire but rather is the management making the hire? I'm in this predicament now. My coworker just requested a transfer because him and my boss just don't see eye-to-eye. I know the problem lies with her. She's a micromanager and terrible communicator but I've learned how to work around these issues. I've been there only a year and this is the second person to transfer out of that position. Obviously she doesn't see herself as the problem and apparently upper-management doesn't either. Everyone else loves the guy - he has great technical skills. It's a shame to see him go. I guess my point is that sometimes it's not the new guy's fault, it's that the old guard needs a-changin.
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
1/7/2015 | 9:25:16 AM
Re: an average hiring process yields average results
I completely agree with you. Sometimes the manager just complains that the employee is not qualified to the position. But actually the problem lies with manager - either the wrong hiring decision was made and the guy was given an unsuitable job, or the manager is lack of essential management skill to explore the potential/competence of the employee.
freespiritny25
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freespiritny25,
User Rank: Ninja
1/8/2015 | 11:01:10 AM
Re: an average hiring process yields average results
@ Li Tan Very true. I worked under poor management before and my manager used to complain to me that the entire department was full of "idiots" that "don't get it". Clearly, she had no insight as to how she had contributed to the lack of structure and approptiate training in the department. 
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
1/8/2015 | 12:47:48 PM
Re: an average hiring process yields average results
@freespirit - it is much easier for those, especially in management positions, to be unable or unwilling to look within themselves to see if they are part of the problem.  There's a Farsi saying my friend uses that translates to: "You have sight for others but are blind to yourself."

Part of the reason is when you run the show, you call the shots, so in theory if someone doesn't act the way you want them to, it's your perogative to get rid of them.

But an insightful manager will be able to identify the people who have potential and cultivate it in such a way it suits the individual and the company.

My personal example is that my boss will give my coworker a task like completing a printer refresh by Jan 31 - our lease for this equipment is up and said printers have to be sent back by that time.  So, that's the task.  He's the kind of guy who will say to himself - this is easy, can be done in one day - so he will leave it to the last minute.  She will turn into a stress case and badger him about it and complain he's not doing his work.  In my opinion, if she wants him to do the task a certain way, she needs to tell him, 'By the end of the week Jan 9, I expect you to have 4 printers replaced.  Then email me the serial numbers.  Then I want you to update the inventory sheet.  By Jan 16, etc..."

You can't give someone a task that general and expect them to do it the exact same way you would.  It's like MGT 101 and I don't understand how you get to be a manager without knowing this.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
1/9/2015 | 2:06:22 PM
Re: an average hiring process yields average results

@vnewman2    Well said.  Really this is simple stuff.   Mgt 101 as you mention and the fact that we are discussing the basics shows how difficult this problem is.   Often managers have little managerial experience when they get their first "big break" and then they go into CYA for the rest of their going no-where career.  

 

I have seen this at every company, the person in position of responsibility who just is good at "acting responsible" but when it comes down to it they always show that they are in over their heads.  

But ironically they don't often loose their jobs - they are more apt to use whatever means they can to stay where they are at.  Scruples and Morality were probably lost in college - if they even have that.

I just recently experienced this first hand (again),  and while not every employee is "optimal" - it is the job of the manager to mitigate and move constructively forward. 

 

That next step usually never happens.

vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
1/9/2015 | 7:51:24 PM
Re: an average hiring process yields average results
@Technocrati -  "The job of the manager to mitigate and move constructively forward."  Exactly.  

But funny how most managers - especially in IT -  don't realize this - I'm guessing because possessing the type of people skills that would allow you to pull this off are at odds with what makes someone a good tech worker.  

Does anyone here work for a former techie turned manager that is stellar on both fronts?  Inquiring minds want to know!
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
1/9/2015 | 9:39:44 AM
Re: an average hiring process yields average results
Management is the problem most of the time! They need to ensure that the new hire is a success and do everyting they can to help them succeed. But a key item to look for in the hiring process is how the new hire will fit into the culture of the new company. They could be bright, outgoing and witty but if your company culture is to have quiet insecure introverts, that could be a mismatch. Some companies want their managers to micromanage, others take a hands off view and let you sink or swim. It is really wide open today. 
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
1/6/2015 | 2:16:55 PM
Hard to see these issues in interviews
People tend to be on their best behavior in interviews, and in today's litigious society, it's tricky to get references (whether official or found through social media/other contacts) to be totally frank about an applicant. Worst case, the references might be desperately hoping someone hires this turkey to get him out of their company.

How much do people use back channels to get the real scoop?
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Author
1/6/2015 | 2:19:43 PM
Re: Hard to see these issues in interviews
@Lorna Some companies will never give someone a bad reference. They're afraid of being sued for ruining the candidate's career. I've also heard of companies that don't want to be held responsible one way or the other, so they will only confirm if the person worked at the outfit. 
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
1/6/2015 | 2:23:03 PM
Re: Hard to see these issues in interviews
Yes, exactly. Often, the hiring HR manager will ask about a former worker, "Would you rehire?" A simple "no" isn't something one could be sued for (at least, I don't think so).
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Author
1/6/2015 | 2:25:46 PM
Re: Hard to see these issues in interviews
@Lorna I would guess the lawyers at the company would tell that person that s/he doesn't have to answer that kind of question and can just cite company policy for the refusal.  
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
1/6/2015 | 2:35:23 PM
Re: Hard to see these issues in interviews
Oh, I am sure that's what the lawyers would say. But ethically, is it the right move?
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
1/9/2015 | 9:31:52 AM
The Interview Process
Given that the interview process today is so legnthy it is hard to imagine a company hiring a bad fit. But since we are all human, it does happen. Most of these tip offs are about negative people. Usually you can spot that during a thorough interview process.
SamRay
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SamRay,
User Rank: Strategist
1/11/2015 | 10:07:32 PM
C# Corner article
A couple of your ideas are much like ones in the article "Top 10 Things You May Not Say To Your Boss" in the C# Corner (c-sharpcorner.com) web site. I do not know which came first. Your "That's not my job" is like "That's not part of my job" and "At my old job..." is like "At my last job we did it this way". You might also find the comments for that article interesting.

Mahesh and I collaborated on the article "Top 8 Things You Should Not Say To a Developer" in C# Corner.

As for "That's not my job", do you not allow the person whose job it is to complain? Do you really expect someone to do something they are not qualified to do if there is someone that is qualified and is being paid to do it? You proably meant to say that a person that does not do something they are legitamately asked to (and should) do then that is a clear problem but I think the way it was said can be easily misinterpreted.

As for "At my old job...", do you not want to get the benefit of someone's experience? You (your employer at least) is probably paying for the experience. Sure, if someone dwells on the past and does not want to do things the way your organization needs it to be done then that could be a problem but if you are not open to ideas then that could be a problem.

 

Note to editors of this site: I wish you had provided a warning that links are not allowed instead of notifying us after the fact. How about disabling the dialog we get when we push the links button?
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