Despite all of the time and effort that goes into finding the right candidate to fill a position, there is no guarantee that the person you hire will end up being a quality employee. With the U.S. Department of Labor reporting that a bad hire will cost a company approximately 30% of an employee’s first-year wages, it is important to recognize the signs of a bad hiring decision early, move forward with (or without) that employee, and avoid making the same mistake in the future.


Spotting a Bad Hire

  • Lower productivity in the new hire’s department can be a sign of a bad hire. While it is typical for productivity to decrease while an employee is transitioning into a role, a learning curve does not account for a sharp drop in productivity or a consistent decline over time.
  • Decrease in morale in the new hire’s department may also be a sign of a bad hire. If you start to notice a shift in the energy level of the team, it is possible that the person you hired just isn’t the right fit and is having a negative impact on their coworkers.
  • When a new hire isn’t following company policies and procedures, especially after repeated warnings, you may be experiencing an employee who is going to be reluctant to follow rules and could cause injury to themselves (or others), in addition to creating a hostile work environment.
  • Complaints from valued employees about any new employee should be taken seriously and addressed immediately. What you don’t want is to lose your valued employees over issues with a bad hire.
  • Unfortunately, candidates have a tendency to embellish their qualifications on their resume, which may lead you to have high expectations that they are unable to meet. Take notice of the quality of their work immediately in order to determine if you unwittingly made a bad hire.
  • An employee’s inability to meet deadlines is a sign that a bad hire has been made. Missing deadlines is detrimental to a team over time and should be confronted as soon as you notice it has become an issue.

Moving Forward

  • In the weeks after hiring a new employee, make observations of their work and interactions. It is important that you don’t let too much time pass before taking action with an employee who is at risk of being considered a bad hire. If you do have concerns regarding their potential in your company, provide them with opportunities to succeed before considering termination.
  • Make every attempt to resolve issues quickly during a new employee’s probationary period rather than waiting for them to be considered a full time employee with benefits etc.
  • While you may feel that you have hired the wrong candidate, it is important that you give them every chance to succeed before termination is considered. One way that you can do this is to ensure that they receive adequate training when they are hired, as well as any additional training that could help them succeed in their new role.
  • In addition to providing training opportunities, partner the new employee with a senior, more experienced coworker who can help them transition into their new position. This is an excellent way to not only provide support to your new employee, but also get honest feedback from someone who understands the role and what it requires.
  • While you may be able to successfully help an employee who struggled at the beginning of their time working for you, there are times that you simply need to terminate employment. For this reason, make sure to document any complaints from coworkers and interventions that were implemented during their probationary period.

How to Avoid Making Future Bad Hires

  • In order to avoid making a bad hire in the future, take note of what skills and traits they lacked. Form questions that focus on these areas to use throughout the hiring process and make sure that you are happy with their responses before extending a job offer.
  • Form a panel the next time you are hiring. Invite employees who will be working with the new hire to be involved in creating questions for the candidates and participate in the interview process. Their opinions may make the difference in the type of candidate that you end up hiring.
  • Do you check references? If you don’t, you should consider implementing reference checking into your hiring process in the future. By talking with past employers, you can gauge how well the candidate is suited for a position in your company.


While it is easy to focus on the financial impact that a bad hire has on a company, it’s negative effects reach beyond your company’s budget. If left unresolved, a bad hire can cause even your best employees to burn out while attempting to keep productivity high, as well as cause low morale and disengagement. If you do end up hiring the wrong person, know how to identify problem areas quickly so that you can attempt to help them succeed while learning how to make better hires in the future.