5 Warning Signs You've Hired the Wrong Person (And What to Do About It)

13 November 2016 Projectus Consulting

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Filling a vacancy within your team is difficult. You hire someone you hope you and your team can gel with based on a few interviews, to deliver on the objectives required to suit your company.A new hire’s first few weeks in the office can be almost as unnerving for you as it is for them. Perhaps that’s why so many people ignore these seemingly obvious warning signs. Do any resonate with you?


A Change in the team dynamic


Of course, a new starter is going to shake things up! It should change in the way you hoped for at interview. However, look around. Have you noticed that people are quieter, taking longer lunch breaks or cliquing off all of a sudden? This could be a sign your new hire is having a negative impact on the company. Remember, one person is never worth the business return on a whole team.

Being late and leaving early


This is the time when employees have the most energy and are out to impress and gain your trust. Time-keeping is often a wider life trait of the individual and therefore very hard for you to control. Being late and leaving early can also hint that the person is using the job as a stop-gap in search of something more long term. Watch out for a combination of that and breaks for personal calls.

Have you heard of ‘the mirroring’ effect?


Mirroring is a psychological term for the behaviour in which a person subconsciously imitates the ‘speech pattern, gesture, or attitude’ of another. If your new hire displays bad habits that you consider unprofessional or outside the values of your company; watch out! One bad egg can set off bad mirroring habits and you could start to see standards slip across the board.


Lower-level employees don’t like them…lookout for two faces!


People often seek feedback about team performance and new hires from senior staff. I had a manager who used to ask the receptionist what they thought of the interviewee when they arrived. Contrary to the smiles at interview, he sometimes found they were rude and dismissive.


They’re great on paper and will be nice to me as their manager, so what? Well, these people are often only in it for the title and will lack passion in their new role. They tend to be the ‘seen to be working’ types instead of tacking the role full on. This is also an indication of how someone will behave in a high pressured situation or on a bad day. Therefore, it’s important you get feedback from junior team members post hire. It might just provide a reason for gaps in overall team performance that you couldn’t work out before too.


“Well at my old job we used to......”


We hire people precisely because of the experience they bring from previous companies and how they can transfer that over to you. You should welcome the insight your new hire offers about the way things are done. However, an employee to makes constant comparisons to their old job in a tone that suggests their previous employer did it better, could serve as a warning.


Ongoing comparison like this reflects a negative attitude and their approach to new challenges. It’s also another sign that you were their last choice. Ultimately, you will never get 100% from an employee like this.


What To Do About It

If your employee is displaying bad habits, you need to address them immediately and explain how that behaviour is perceived. For example, instead of saying “you’ve been late three times this week. I don’t want to see a repeat of this again.” Try something like “You’ve been late three times this week. When you are late Stephen, it’s insulting. It tells me that you think your time is more important than mine.”


If you’ve exhausted all options, it’s likely that you hired on skills and fired on behaviours. This is a huge philosophy we abide by at Projectus when speaking to Companies that come to us to replace people they regret hiring. It’s too common for hiring managers to be seduced with impressive C.V’s only to find that person is hard to manage, or just doesn’t fit your company values. Remember, there are certain things you just can’t teach.


If you used a recruiter, call them back or turn to a specialist recruitment company rather than generic ones. They will have an alternative for you that might have slightly different skills on paper but a better fit in retrospect. Remember, they know every angle of their candidates better than you do at the final stage interview.

Finally, take advantage of the probation period. It’s there to protect you and your business. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and the 6-month probation period gives you a window to take advantage of that.


On a personal level remember, that bad hiring experiences will ultimately strengthen your leadership journey!


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