You’ve Hired the Wrong Person … Now What?

Updated Jun 7, 20225 min
You’ve Hired the Wrong Person … Now What?

You’ve Hired the Wrong Person … Now What?

Caroline BantonUpdated Jun 7, 20225 min
You’ve Hired the Wrong Person … Now What?

Hiring the wrong person is a calamity in many ways. A bad hire is basically the wrong fit, and the employer faces an uphill battle in trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It’s also a tragic position for the new hire, who may even quit.

In addition to the recruiting costs to find a replacement, there will also be ripple effects on other employees. Conflicts could arise among co-workers who may have to do the new hire's work while they come up to speed, if ever.

This article explains what to do when you’ve hired the wrong person. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to resolve the mistake, so this article also lays out hiring process best practices to prevent a bad hire from happening again.

The Inevitable Fall-out and Cost of a Bad Hire

If a hire is a poor fit, the recruitment costs don’t end after the onboarding process. The person will need to be trained and perhaps excessively so if they lack the required skills. The person may require close monitoring by their manager, which will take up valuable time.

There may be conflicts associated with a hire that is a poor culture fit, which might require the involvement of human resources. And other employees may decide to leave their firm if bad hiring decisions become a chronic problem.

According to Blackstone Talent Group. studies show the cost of each bad hire is somewhere between $25,000 to $50,000 per employee, but what if the employer-new hire relationship sours to the point of legal action? An employee can sueover the termination circumstances with huge financial implications.

The Effect on Other Employees

There may be ripple effects on the team members of a bad hire. The wrong hire might bring a negative attitude, effectively being a bad apple and spoiling the rest of the team’s morale. Poor team morale could cause interpersonal conflicts between staff members; other employees may resent having to pick up the slack from a co-worker who is cannot fulfill their role.


A bad hire is unlikely to have their most memorable professional experience with your organization, or perhaps it is memorable for the wrong reasons. Thus, there is a risk they will disparage the company on social media with a scathing review, damage its reputation, and potentially affect employee retention and recruitment.  

Bottom line, a bad hire is a drain all around, so here’s how to deal with the problem swiftly and minimize the collateral damage.

What To Do If You’ve Hired the Wrong Person

A sequence of events may or may not culminate in the employee being let go. The first step is to have a direct conversation with the new hire to address the problems and find a resolution.

Have an Honest Conversation with the New Hire

Telling someone that their performance is not meeting expectations is not an easy conversation to have. Make sure that the individual has an opportunity to present their case. 

Organizational fit may not be the problem at all, and it could be that other life events have been the cause of poor performance. For example, personal difficulties such as a divorce or care of family members. All possible factors should be ruled out or discussed.

Ultimately, the employer should analyze the pros and cons of various causes of action considering their financial implications and the effects on the company and its employees.

Related: “3 Ways to Integrate New Employees

Courses of Action to Resolve a Bad Hire

Depending on the situation, the employer might be able to find a different position for the employee that is a better fit and that both parties are happy with. An employee who is not transferable or is resistant may have to be let go.

Find a New Role for the New Hire

If a new role is found, it’s a good idea to set a probation period by which the situation will be corrected. Some considerations here are the costs involved in training the employee for another role versus the costs of letting them go and recruiting someone else.

Employee Resignation

Alternatively, the employee may decide to resign if both parties agree to that course of action. This could be a non-confrontational way for both parties to part ways amicably with no blame placed on either side.

The Employee Is Let Go

If a mutual resolution is not found, the employer may decide to let the new hire go.

If this course of action is followed, the employer should explain the reasons for the decision to the new employee clearly. The effects on the company should be the focus. For example, the person’s lack of productivity is costly to the company. They don’t have the required skill set. Other staff are being affected by the person’s behavior. Clients are dissatisfied.

Laying out the reasons for letting the person go will lessen the likelihood of accusations of unfair dismissal or not fulfilling promises.

Hiring mistakes can be avoided if recruiting is conducted responsibly. This next section outlines some ways to improve recruitment protocols and minimize the likelihood of a bad hire.

Related: “How Leaders and Managers Can Leverage HR

How to Avoid Hiring the Wrong Person

There are good and bad talent acquisition practices. Here are some ways to find the right candidate.

Educate Potential Hires

You want potential hires to understand your organization as fully as possible before they decide they want to work there. The more you can tell them, the better.

Post information on your website. Images and short videos are more engaging than reams of text. Videos can showcase staff members in their various roles. These can help a candidate get a sense of the company culture. Make sure the job description accurately describes the role, its demands, and how the employee fits into the bigger picture.

Don’t sugarcoat the role. The candidate deserves to know what the expectations are to make the best decision for themselves.

Create a Candidate Profile

An ideal candidate profile is a blueprint for the right person. The profile should be created through collaboration between the hiring manager, executive managers, and human resources. It should list all the characteristics the ideal candidate should have. The profile guides the interview process by helping the interviewers determine what they should look for when considering applicants.

Create an Accurate Job Description

Put substantial work into the job description. Often, the person creating a job description does not really understand what the position involves. Get the input of the outgoing staff member or another employee in the same role to make sure the description prioritizes the relevant tasks and job requirements. Also, get the input of the direct manager so that their expectations are also reflected in the job description.

Plan the Interviews

Select an interview format that makes sense. Examples are structured, unstructured, and hybrid interviews. Design a scoring system based on metrics to fairly evaluate each candidate.

Structured interviews involve a fixed set of specific questions, which makes scoring candidates easy but does not allow them to show their uniqueness. Unstructured Interviews use a conversational style of interviewing, which can give interviewers more latitude when looking for red flags and warning signs. Hybrid interviews use a mix of a structured and unstructured format.

An interview is only as good as the people running them, so consider using a career coach to train managers in good interviewing skills or enrolling them in a course.

For more on good interviewing practices, read “Lead an Interview and Hire the Right Person

Should You Outsource Hiring?

The decision to outsource hiring will depend on the organization. On the one hand, recruiters are experts in their field. However, on the other hand, they are not experts in the work of your organization. For senior roles especially, it’s better if a candidate experiences as much of your company as possible. That said, staffing consultants and recruiters can be useful for sourcing and screening candidates early in the recruitment process.

Bad hires will happen. In a recent CareerBuilder survey of nearly 2,700 employers, almost 70 percent said they were affected by a bad hire. Taking swift action to resolve a bad hire and following hiring best practices will ensure they remain an anomaly and do not become a chronic problem.

Caroline Banton
Expert on career acceleration and business topics with vast experience writing for globally-recognized publications

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