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Your Company Hired the Wrong Candidate. Now What?

Hiring new employees can be a sensitive and grueling process, both financially and in terms of employee time. Onboarding costs are usually about 20 percent of the new hire’s annual salary, and that, when paired with a loss in productivity and employee morale, is something you don’t want to waste.

However, every company has experienced the conundrum of hiring the wrong employee. Whether you start to notice problems within the first week or it takes longer to figure out it’s not going to work, there are a few steps you can take to ensure the best outcome for the company and the employee. Once you pinpoint what isn’t working, you can decide what to do next.

Can It Be Salvaged?

Even after you acknowledge the hire isn’t the best fit, that doesn’t mean all is lost. Before you decide if you should let someone go, consider if the relationship can be salvaged.

If there are important traits that you highly value, and this employee exhibits strength in those areas, consider possible solutions. Does that person simply need additional hard- or soft-skill training, such as workplace communication or a course in their department’s field, like a project management certification? Or is there something they can’t seem to get the hang of that someone else could take on, which would allow them to transition to another project that aligns better with their skill set?

According to Roberta Chinsky Matuson in an article for Monster, speak with the employee directly about the issues before moving to termination. Point out problems in a calm and clear manner. Face-to-face, telephone, or video chat is ideal for these conversions to avoid any misconstrued points. Ask them why proper attendance is an issue, for example, or what prevents them from excelling in their role. If they seem open to change or if the issue is something that can be easily fixed, it may turn out to be a solvable concern.

See if The Employee Has Potential in Other Areas

If it’s not the person’s personality, but rather their skills in relation to the position that they were hired for, perhaps it would work to simply move them to another department (if another position is available that is a better fit). Consider what the person is good at and see if there is a need in other areas of the business where this skill could be more highly valued. If transferred, you’d be free to repeat the hiring process for their old position, this time with an improved focus on the kind of candidate who would excel in that role.

A Plan for Dismissal

If you can’t transfer the employee and changing around their skills and responsibilities in their current position doesn’t work, then it’s time to develop a plan for dismissal. Important steps when this takes place includes:

  • Telling management what will happen
  • Changing all network logins or applicable passwords
  • Outlining a transition plan, including who will handle the workload until a replacement is found
  • Setting a deadline for hiring a new person
  • Reviewing and modifying the job description appropriately, if necessary
  • Letting coworkers know the plan so everyone is on the same page
  • Figuring out what can be done better in the future

You need to prevent a hiring mishap from happening again; this is just as important as the game plan for the employee’s termination. No one wants to spend the time, energy, and resources on rehiring for a position, only to find that it’s not going to work out again.

Prevent it From Happening Again

In order to prevent the calamity of a wrong hire from disrupting your company’s productivity and success, consider making use of these improvements in your new hiring plan.

Consider a Staffing Agency

If you haven’t used a staffing agency before to find and sift through applications, now may be the right time to try. Recruiters and staffing specialists are experts in the hiring process. They are usually much better suited to quickly figure out if a candidate could be a good fit—before the company ever talks to potential employees.

Use a Thorough Application Process

One of the common mistakes job postings make is stating what is needed in the role, not which traits would make a candidate successful in the position. For instance, if the main requirement for hiring a social media manager is their experience using social media, several applicants would surely fit the bill.

However, if this particular project manager needs to have an outgoing attitude and be willing to work outside of normal business hours because it’s at an events management company, outline these qualifications in the description to stave off applicants who wouldn’t be a good fit.

Assign Tasks or Questions Before Interviews

A quick method that can help you narrow down applicants is to assign test tasks. These could be included in the job description. For example, make sure your potential hires pay attention to detail by asking them to use a specific subject line in their application email, or require that they answer a question in order to apply.

You can also narrow down a large group of applicants to a smaller pool and ask their opinions on a general issue someone in the role will face. Applicants can also offer suggestions for improving something within the role, such as how they would respond to an angry customer or client. These responses can give you a better picture of individual candidates before a phone or in-person interview.

While it seems easiest to let someone go before a situation deteriorates, that may not always be the best solution. Move forward with your “wrong” hire if there’s an urge to improve or if there is a resolution. However, when necessary, don’t hesitate to terminate the employee and focus on what you can do better next time.  Having the best possible people in all roles is what will make your company’s employees more productive, cohesive, and happier.


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