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12 Signs You've Made a Bad Hire


I'm sure you know, recruitment actually starts the moment you decide you need a new employee. Whether this is happening because your company is expanding, or because someone is leaving, there’s a lot to consider – creating an engaging job description, advertising the role, short-listing candidates, interviewing and much more.

It’s always a huge relief when you’ve filled a vacancy in your business, but not every new hire turns out to be the match you’d hoped for. That’s why it’s important to continuously review your new employee.

Keep an eye out for these 12 signs that you may have (unfortunately) made a bad hire …

1) They don’t have the skills you expected

If, upon reflection, a string of bad interviews made your new employee look better than they are, take another look at their resume.

Perhaps they made a good first impression but you let a few things slide at interview.

One third of candidates embellish or exaggerate their qualifications or experience, so quiz them again on their previous roles and check whether they’re suitable sooner rather than later.

2) A bad attitude from the outset

Employing someone new is a great opportunity to get a fresh perspective on how things are run. But there’s a big difference between constructive criticism and being negative.

Look out for signs of employees getting snappy, or swearing in the workplace.

If they can’t be positive in the first few weeks, it could be a sign of worse things to come.

3) A general lack of understanding about the role

Everyone takes time to get up to speed when starting at a new company.

A lot of things will be different; software, processes, where the toilets are located …

But remember that you’ve hired this person for their skills, and they should have a good understanding of what’s required to produce great results.

4) Being late or taking a lot of unexpected time off

Of course there could be genuine reasons for this, but ensure any unexpected time off or lateness is monitored closely, and you talk to them about it.

If this comes alongside other signs of being dissatisfied with the job, it could suggest that they’re either going to leave, or continue being unreliable.

5) Asking question, after question, after question

You didn’t think there was such a thing as a stupid question, until now.

If your new recruit is asking a lot of unnecessary questions, try to manage the situation and ask them to make notes until a more appropriate time.

But if they need hand-holding throughout every task, they could be more of a hindrance than a help.

6) Making endless complaints

If a new employee has been constantly complaining about trivial things such as the office coffee, lack of parking or where they’re sat, then it might be time to take them aside and ask if there’s a bigger underlying issue.

Getting annoyed at the little things could suggest wider unhappiness and there’s a danger they’ll pass their annoyances on to other people in the office.

7) Self importance or arrogance

Confidence is a great asset, but you don’t want to work with someone that thinks they’re better than the team, the company or even the job.

If you’re detecting notes of unnecessary arrogance, it’s worth looking at how they fit in with the team and what their wider attitude to work is like.

8) Making the same mistakes again and again

Everyone makes mistakes. But in the workplace you need to learn from any mistakes made.

Whilst you do need to be tolerant of people learning a new skill and doing something for the first time, it’s not ideal if they’re making the same mistakes again and again (providing you correct them the first time).

9) Repetitive referring to their ‘old job’

Drawing on experiences to do a fantastic job is great.

If someone has learnt transferrable skills, or tried out processes that can help move your organisation forward, brilliant.

But constantly saying ‘at my old place we did it like this’, or ‘my old colleagues didn’t do it like that’ isn’t helpful at all.

10) Keeping you up at night

Are you losing sleep because you’re worried about what this person could potentially mess up the following day?

Is the first thing you feel in the morning dread that you’ll have to work with them, soothe ruffled feathers with colleagues or sort out problems with clients that they’ve created?

11) Not willing to adapt to change

Have you gone through a lot of these points and found that the person in question isn’t willing to adapt to change? Have they already muttered the words ‘that’s not my job’?

For smaller companies especially, it’s essential that employees are prepared to be flexible, and grow and change with the company.

12) Not delivering

When all is said and done, are they doing their job, and to what standard?

Some traits can be overlooked if someone is great at their job, and someone who’s prepared to challenge the status quo isn’t always a bad thing.

But if they aren’t delivering, constantly upsetting clients or colleagues you value, and showing signs they aren’t prepared to change, it’s time to take action.


What do you do next?

You’ll need to make a decision about your new hire and their future at your company. Perhaps there’s another available role that they’re more suited to, but either way there’s a good chance you’ll need to restart the recruitment process.

Perhaps, now is the best time to bring in the experts. Learn from your mistakes and enjoy recruitment success going forward!

Start your search with us.

Your time is valuable - that's why we don't waste it. We take in-depth briefs, conduct whole-market searches and carry out precise, detailed matching. With Halcyon Finance, recruitment is no longer a numbers game, because your business is too important for that. Find out more...

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