What Happens When You Hire The Wrong Person


Interviewing and Evaluating

We’ve all had this experience. A job candidate walks into an interview with you with an amazing resume. Their skills, their experience, and their expertise are exactly what you are looking for. Except there is one problem. You don’t like the way they describe how they’ve achieved past results.

Your company prides itself on having a structured interview process which provides more consistent results than an unstructured interview. As part of your interview, you ask specific questions about times when they’ve overcome a challenge, how they’ve dealt with conflict or disagreement in the workplace, and how they’ve exceeded goals.

There aren’t any right or wrong answers to these questions and the candidate answers them well with specific and relevant examples from their recent work experience. He comes across as confident and competent.

So what’s the problem? As he’s describing what his approach his to different problems you envision what would happen at your company if he did the same. You start getting the sense that he would ruffle feathers and frustrate key members of his future team.

The reason is that your team places a high value on collaboration seeking broad agreement when working on a project, and focusing on celebrating wins as a team. This candidate sounds like he’s done really well in a more individual and results-oriented environment. Conflicts were more frequent and often not resolved, and individuals were recognized more than teams for their performance.

As you weigh the decision about whether or not to hire him, you consistently come back to his great resume and the depth of his experience. Ultimately, you extend him an offer in spite of your misgivings about the environments where he’s thrived in past.

The First 90 Days With Your New Hire

The candidate accepts your offer and begins onboarding and working with the team. He is on top of the projects he’s assigned, and he communicates his metrics clearly and on time. But you start to sense tension during team meetings, and you catch a few side comments that indicate some negative feelings developing on both sides. Still he’s producing good work, and he hasn’t done anything wrong.

About five weeks after he starts work another team member pulls you aside and asks to talk about the new hire. He feels like the new hire is disrespectful of the recipe for success that’s worked in the past, and that he is being inflexible about trying out a different approach. He also notices that other people on the team feel slighted by the way he attributes credit to himself rather than to the team.

You pull him aside to communicate these concerns. He’s a bit defensive because he felt that part of why you hired him was his ability to deliver results and he views the emphasis on collaboration as inefficient since it entails more buy-in from others. You communicate how important collaboration continues to be, and ask that he keep this in mind, but you don’t offer too many specifics.

The Unraveling of a Bad Hire

Shortly after this conversation, you end up going on a family vacation for a week and a half. You feel a little nervous, but you did have a conversation with him so you hope that things will be better when you get back.

As you catch up on emails before heading back to work you realize that several projects are getting seriously delayed by conflicts between your new hire and the broader team. Multiple individuals are taking issue with his approach and it is clear that trust has seriously eroded.

Once trust erodes it is incredibly difficult to build it back. And in this case, it proved impossible. The stellar new hire with the perfect resume proved to be a time suck, a distraction, and a serious opportunity cost. Six months after hiring him you are back at square one looking for the right person to join your team.

Good processes are just one part of the solution to this dilemma. The second essential ingredient is trusting that that your processes are there for a reason. If you interview someone who looks great on paper, but doesn’t sound like they will get along in your culture (provided you have a consistent rigorous interview process) then don’t hire them!

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