So How do You Avoid a Bad Hire?

How do you avoid a bad hire jpeg

Have you ever made a bad hire and wondered how it happened? The candidate had a great resume and the interview went well – they said all the right things. But after making the hire things went a little pear-shaped and you realized you made a big mistake. Was the mis-hire your fault? What went wrong? 


"As a business owner or manager, you know that hiring the wrong person is the most costly mistake you can make."

- Brian Tracy

Hiring is difficult and the cost of a bad hire can be significant jpeg

If you’ve ever suffered the cost and burden of a bad-hire  you’re not alone. Most managers have made bad hires. Hiring is difficult. People who look good on paper and interview well can still turn out to be a disaster.  

The problem is that hiring isn’t an easy task for any manager. The recruitment process is a pain and job candidates are becoming savvier. They often know exactly what to say and do to get the job. Hiring is a bit like playing Russian Roulette - play it often enough and you're guaranteed of a bad result.

So How do You Avoid a Bad Hire?

The good news, is that bad hires can be almost entirely eliminated when you know what to look for. Bosses are responsible for employee selection, motivation and retention. But they don't teach you how to do this in school. That's why hiring for performance is a foundational skill in the program. 

Hiring Tip #1: Employee Performance Starts and Ends With Manager Skills 

It’s a harsh reality that employee under-performance is a failure of management – either:

  • Hiring the wrong person for the job;
  • Failing to engage, motivate & develop them or;
  • Failure to relocate them into the correct position (even if that is outside of the company!).

But as much as employee under-performance is a manager failing. Managers also have the power to fix employee performance through hiring, motivation, development and relocation. 

Every under-performer started off as a hire. If you are a manager struggling with a member of staff who is seriously under-performing. And you often wonder what they are doing. Remember that everyone was hired at one point. 

Hiring the Right Employee for the Job is a Valuable Manager Skill

The reality is that avoiding bad hires requires manager skills, practice and formal discipline. This is a challenge because:

  • Hiring the right employee for the job is a difficult process
  • Managers are relatively inexperienced at hiring because it’s a Manager Skill they don’t practice often and;
  • Most managers aren’t formally trained in recruitment processes. 

Combining difficulty, lack of manager training, and lack of practice can only result in bad hires. 

What this means is if you want to hire good staff and avoid bad hires then the solution is to use a good hiring process and develop manager skills. 

Is it worth doing management training to improve your hiring skills? Well of course we’re going to say yes. Management training is the engine behind continuous improvement and employee productivity. But if the costs of a bad hire aren’t enough to persuade you then read our article on the Business Case for Manager Training.

Hiring Tip #2 Implement a Good Hiring Process

Avoiding a mis-hire means using a proven hiring process. Shortcuts in the recruitment process will catch you later. Spending a couple of extra hours to be sure of your new hire is an incredibly worthwhile investment. Because the return is so high. 

In fact, in my opinion, you can't afford not to run a proven recruitment process. Because the alternative is just too risky. A little extra time and effort compared to living with the consequences, means using a proven recruitment process is a no-brainer.  

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Apply a proven interviewing, evaluation and selection process hiring the right employee will pay you a thousand times over in:

  • Increased employee productivity;
  • A good employer - employee relationship and;
  • High employee retention.

How do you Run a Proven Recruitment Process?

I’m a massive fan of checklists to guide you through processes. Download a Hiring Checklist here.

Hiring Tip #3 Use Good Interview Questions

We’ve all been to “those” types of interviews – the ones where you know exactly which questions will be asked. They sound something like, “Tell us about yourself…” 

The problem is that the generic, “canned interview question” only gives a vague indication of work performance. They’re a great indication of how well someone interviews and presents themselves – but how well will they perform if you hire them? 

Interviewing requires skill. The key is to use behavioral interview questions and to assess the answers. 

The best behavioural interview questions to ask candidates are ones that give you insight into the person behind the resume. They reveal the job candidate’s:

  • Values;
  • Strengths and Weaknesses;
  • Past behaviors;
  • On-the-job performance and;
  • Job competencies and skills.  

To find out the secrets to behavioural interviewing, see this article on the Best Interview Questions to Ask Job Candidates 

Hiring Tip #4 Include Interview Questions to Avoid Bad Hires 

Research says that the 6 most common characteristics of bad hires are the following:

  • Failure to produce the proper quality of work 63%
  • Failure to meet deadlines 48%
  • Failure to work well with other employees 63%
  • Negative attitude 62%
  • Immediate attendance problems 56%
  • Employee caused customer complaints 49% 

Therefore avoiding a bad hire means specifically testing candidates for these items. This is so important that I’ve developed a set of interview questions designed to specifically test for these characteristics. 

The Guide Will:

  • Identify characteristics of bad candidates;
  • Provide questions to ask candidates and a method to assess their responses. 

Get your FREE Download Here.

Hiring Tip #5 Do a Reference Check

You’ve screened, interviewed and filtered. Out of the heap of resumes that you started with you’re ready to make your selection. But it’s not a done deal just yet. It’s crucial not to make a job offer until you’ve validated references. 

Reference checks are the only real means you have of verifying what the candidate told you in their resume and interview. You’d be surprised at how common it is for job seekers to misrepresent the facts. Worst case, a small but significant amount of people will actively try to deceive you. That’s why reference checks are vital for avoiding a mis-hire. 

A reference check can also tell you what the candidate left out of their resume and didn’t tell you in the interview. 

Many hiring managers overlook the importance of this step because they’ve already decided they want to hire the candidate. But skipping reference checks is playing bad hire Russian Roulette. 

Wondering what to ask during a reference check? Get your free reference check guide here

Hiring Tip #6 Implement a Proven Employee Onboarding Process for All New Hires

Many bad hires don’t start off as bad hires. Perfectly good new hires turn into poor performers because they don’t intergrate or become unengaged. A recent study found that 46% of new hires failed in the first 18 months. It’s a massive waste of time to spend a lot of time recruiting an employee without:

  • Ensuring the employee integrates into the organisation
  • Engaging them in the onboarding process
  • Setting early performance standards and;
  • Having a management system that continually promotes higher performance. 

The hiring process doesn’t end after the job offer. Employee onboarding is essential for productivity, engagement and retention. Employee onboarding will prevent your great new hire from turning into a mis-hire! 

You only have one chance to start off on the right foot. When a new relationship starts, the initial stages determine how the rest of the relationship will work out. This is why successful managers follow a proven onboarding process.

Summary – How to Avoid a Bad Hire

Hiring the wrong person causes manager misery. But bad hires are far too common. Because hiring is a difficult, seldom practiced manager skill that very few managers are fortunate enough to be trained in. This is why we know that spending a little extra time and effort in your hiring processes is a great investment. This is because you’ll get better employees and avoid the catastrophic costs of a bad hire.


Is there anything you do to avoid bad hires - what are your best tips to get the best employees? Help the rest of us out by sharing in the comments below.

The Hiring and Interviewing Series

This is part of the Interviewing and Hiring Series. This series covers how managers can increase employee performance through hiring better employees. And how managers can avoid common hiring mistakes.

Topics in the Series Include:

Other Relevant Resources:

Power Interview Pack: The complete set of interview questions to get the best candidate for the job. Increase employee performance through hiring the best staff and avoiding bad hires. Link here. 

Hiring for Performance: How to hire the best employees and improve employee performance, engagement and retention. Link here.  

Employee Onboarding for Performance: If employee onboarding goes wrong, your new hire may leave you in the lurch or become a demotivated low performer. But motivate and integrate your new hire well and you will have a happy, productive team member. Link here.

Boss Camp

It’s no secret that most people don’t like work. But imagine if your employees actually liked working hard? It probably sounds too good to be true but it would make your life as a boss a lot better wouldn’t it? That’s why we need to wake up and find a better way to make work work and make managing easy. Join me at WWW.BOSS.CAMP for a better way. The program includes topics such as:

  • How to hire employees for performance,
  • How to motivate employees,
  • What are bad employee motivators,
  • What you must do as a manager but isn't on your job description,
  • How leaders get power,