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Avoiding bad hires - what has experience taught you?

Avoiding bad hires isn't easy. Plenty of books on hiring. What have you learned through your own experience about when to say "no?"


Kountou Coulibaly
Title: Cost Controller
Company: Randgold Resources
(Cost Controller, Randgold Resources) |

ouf not easy to answer this. but, i have remark if you say directly no you can frustrate your interlocuteur. so, it's very important to use diplomatie when you want to say no.

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

Interview once by yourself and then interview a second time with two others at the same time. At times, someone will see something you did not see. Check references and perform an internet search.

And after that - you may still make a mistake. You cannot avoid it. A questions and answers interview will never help you fully understand how someone will perform. The best advice I could give you -- if you realize that you made a mistake in the first 90 days, move swiftly and terminate.

Keeping a bad hire can be disruptive.

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

We use a company called Hire Well Now that performs a personality test, background check, and drug tests. We love it. We actually just did away with the reference part - people are too afraid to be sued for saying something they aren't supposed to.

If you are not ready to hire a service just make sure your interview process is designed to weed out as many as possible. Ask open ended questions, get them talking as much as possible. It will give you a better feel for there personality. Ask them what they do on their day off. It always amazed me when someone would say "sleep" - most likely not very ambitious. If you really can't gage the person, have someone else perform a second interview. If possible depending on the position give them some real examples of an issue or situation they may encounter and ask them to tell you how they would handle it.

Sheila Saffold
Title: Manager of Accounting
Company: Hospital
(Manager of Accounting, Hospital) |

Don't take answers at face value, probe a little further. For example, if someone represents they have experience doing journal entries in a the general ledger, ask them how they accumulated that knowledge. If they say they learned using Quickbooks, you know they don't really know much about working in a general ledger.

Michael Garibaldi
Title: Owner
Company: MTG & Ass., Ltd.
(Owner, MTG & Ass., Ltd.) |

If you have any questions, or nagging feelings - do not hire. I don't care how long the process has been, or that "hiring fatigue" has set in - do not hire and start over. When the hiring team says - "there isn't anyone better" - do not hire and start the process over. There isn't anything worse than a bad hire.

Topic Expert
Linda Wright
Title: Consultant
Company: Wright Consulting
(Consultant, Wright Consulting) |

I agree with Michael and Regis above, in particular. I suggest at a high level that you script the key questions for the interview and have a "buddy" in each discussion. One can ask the questions; the second can observe and take notes. Of course, checking references with key job responsibilities in mind is important. I always did this step with HR, even though in many cases, they might have preferred to have done it alone.

Ken Stumder
Title: Finance Director / Controller
Company: Ken Stumder, CPA
(Finance Director / Controller, Ken Stumder, CPA) |

I was told by a really smart guy that every hire is rolling the dice. At the end of the day, after the initial weeding process, you are basing a hire on what someone tells you about themselves. So much of it is culture, individual human interactions etc. I've seen high-fliers crash and burn and the exact opposite all depending on the environment.

Topic Expert
Malak Kazan
Title: VP, Special Projects
Company: ERI Economic Research Institute
(VP, Special Projects, ERI Economic Research Institute) |

Some of the main reasons employees leave is they didn't have realistic job expectations (e.g. too mundane / too hectic); didn't get along with their performance manager; on a rare occasion they "couldn't do the job". Interviewing for fit is the difficult part and where employers experience attrition. Have a peer in a same or similar job be part of the interview process to provide a realistic job expectation for the candidate. Also probe about the pace and energy they expect to experience on the job. The performance manager interviewing the candidate needs to share as much information about his/her leadership management style during the interview process. There should be no surprises once the employee is hired.

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