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Bad Hire: Avoid making the same mistakes with ‘bad hires’ in your company

A bad hire can be crippling to a business. It is therefore essential to avoid hiring the wrong person at all costs. The alternative is that this person may end up costing you more in the long run.

In business, we have all heard the term, ‘hire slow, fire fast’. Although it sounds crud it implies that companies should take their time when hiring new employees and be quick to get rid of those who do not fit the role or your company culture.

‘Hire slow, fire fast’ is a tried and tested method to keep your company on track to achieving its goals. However, it is easier said than done. Most companies admit that they have made a bad hire somewhere in the past. This will typically have financial implications for your company

What is a bad hire?

We can define ‘a bad hire’ as an employee who is not qualified or capable of producing the work he or she has been hired to do. This person may be slow to adapt and fit into your company’s culture. Other bad hires are those who are repeatedly late for work or miss deadlines without reasonable excuse.

Bad hires are more than just employees who are not capable of getting the job done. Have you ever heard of the ‘brilliant jerk’? We’ve all met one somewhere in our professional careers. This is a person who is brilliant at what they do. However, they are self-centred and tend to drag other employees down. This may even be to the extent where certain employees’ work is negatively affected. They can’t execute their duties effectively, and they don’t have any voice to make suggestions, be creative or address problems. The behaviour of brilliant jerks is often brushed off. They get away with it because, in the short term, they deliver results.

The long-term effect will be far-reaching. They could chase away clients or ostracise other employees, lower employee morale and sometimes lead to psychological issues such as depression and anxiety – and most probably drive them to look for alternative employment.

The cost of replacing a good employee who leaves because of a ‘brilliant jerk’ will probably leave a skills gap which will necessitate a certain investment of time or money to upskill a new employee to fill the gap, only for them to leave because of a situational repeat.

Why do companies make bad hires?

In most cases, we can attribute a bad hire to rushed processes to employ a person to fulfil a certain critical need for the company to function optimally. If you do not have thorough interview processes in place you are setting yourself up to employ the wrong people. Apart from interviews, claimed qualifications and references should be thoroughly checked to be authentic.

Companies sometimes make the mistake of overlooking personalities that are not necessarily a good fit for the company in favour of a qualification/s, skillset or experience. Each company will have to be honest with itself about how much value it wants to attribute to these trades in favour of others.

The cost of a bad hire

A bad hire will have a financial impact on your company in many ways. This starts with the time and money it took to advertise the position. Time invested by management to work through CVs and interview candidates. As well as time to set up employment contracts and integrate a new employee into the company’s work processes. The paid time spent by a bad hire to not deliver the desired deliverables attempts to train and upskill, and negative effects on other employees who have to pick up the workload all add up to an astronomical cost.

How to avoid a bad hire

Define clear job requirements

Create detailed job descriptions and specifications that clearly outline the skills, qualifications, and experience required for the position.

Thoroughly assess cultural fit

Ensure all candidates understand your company’s culture and values. And don’t just assess candidates for their skills and experience but also their alignment with the company.

Conduct comprehensive interviews

Have a structured interview process that includes multiple rounds of interviews. These interviews should evaluate both technical skills and soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving.

Use behavioural interviews

Incorporate behavioural interview questions that probe into a candidate’s past experiences and how they handled specific situations.

Check references

Conduct thorough reference checks. This can provide insights into a candidate’s performance, work ethic, and character from previous employers or colleagues.

Leverage assessment tests

Psychometric assessments are exceptional tools in validating a candidate’s ability and suitability for a position. Certain assessments will even test competency fit and potential with regards to adaptability in a certain career path. These are essential insights into hiring the right candidate, long-term.


Ensure a smooth cultural and position onboarding process to help new hires integrate into the company.

Set probationary periods

Implement a probationary period for new hires, during which their performance is closely monitored and address any issues early on.

Continuously evaluate the recruitment process

Regularly review and improve your recruitment process and assess the effectiveness of your strategies in preventing bad hires.

Monitor retention rates

Keep track of employee turnover rates and identify any patterns related to bad hires.

Learn from past mistakes

If a bad hire does occur, use it as an opportunity to learn and adapt your hiring process. Understand what went wrong and make necessary adjustments.

This blog highlights the importance of avoiding a bad hire. To ensure that you employ the correct person for the job and your team, make use of a professional recruitment agency such as CSG.

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