How to Right the Ship After Making a Terrible Hiring Mistake

Tara Klein
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You thought you did a good job. You vetted the resume and the references. You conducted a thorough interview. Everything looked promising, so you make the offer and get excited about what's to come. But you were wrong. The new employee is not meeting your expectations or living up to the potential you saw during the hiring process. Hiring mistakes are difficult for several reasons. For one, if you are hiring you usually need that position filled in a timely manner, and any mistakes are a setback in that timeline you had. Second, a lot of effort and time is invested in the process, so it can feel like wasted resources when it doesn't pan out as planned. Lastly, it can be difficult to admit that mistake after it happens especially if you are the one who made the hiring decision. But that doesn't mean you (and the rest of the organization) have to suffer with it. There are ways to right the ship after making a terrible hiring mistake.

1. Let go of your pride.

Just because you made the decision to hire this person, does not mean you have to stick it out. In fact, you're not alone. A recent research survey of managers showed that 64% feel that it is common for candidates to look better on paper than they turn out in reality.  And this one person can have a negative impact on your organization, so holding on to them won't benefit anyone. You must take action to correct the situation quickly.

2. Make a plan to mentor.

The cost of hiring and on boarding is high, so although letting go of someone quickly is the easier option, it is not always the most effective. Working with HR, you should make an improvement plan for the new employee to try to get them back on the track you expected. Provide them the training and resources needed to succeed and track that plan closely. With the right attention, you may be able to salvage the hire and gain a stronger employee out of it. This tactic also creates a solid foundation with the employee, and the company's investment in them will hopefully establish a strong relationship for both parties.

If the plan does not work in improving the situation, explore your other options. Is there another department or role that would be a better fit for them? Is there someone else in your network that could utilize the employee's skill set? If these alternatives are not possible you can make the decision to let the employee go and start the process over.

3. Review your hiring process.

Use the experience to reflect on your hiring process. What lessons can you take from this hiring mistake? Work with HR to ensure you have a thorough and effective hiring and on boarding process. Evaluate your interview questions to make sure they are productive in ensuring the candidate is a good fit for your company and your culture.  Was there something you missed this time around? If yes, find it and put the right plan in place to prevent it from happening again.


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