Jonathan Whistman

Guest Columnist and Strategic Partner of Kinsey Management

Let’s skip the sugar coating. Making a bad hire is one of the most frustrating aspects of running a business.

Interviewees that wowed you with their initiative end up with fireable productivity levels. Candidates with extensive experience and great interviewing skills can’t seem to hit quota. Your newest team member won’t be satisfied until they’re sitting on the board of directors. Meanwhile, they neglect their entry-level responsibilities.

But even more frustrating than dealing with these poor-performing characters is figuring out when to cut your losses, how much it’ll cost your organization, and how you can prevent this disappointing situation from occurring in the future. 

“An entry-level bad hire can cost a company anywhere from 30% of the hire’s first-year salary, which comes out to a painful average of $15,000-20,000 down the drain.”

How Common are Bad Hires?

While you should be careful not to make a habit out of onboarding bad hires, you shouldn’t beat yourself up too much if one slips through the cracks either. 

Nearly 75% of employers report hiring the wrong person for an open position. This issue has sparked debates across industries regarding the need for new and improved recruitment and hiring strategies that position organizations and new hires for success. 

What is Considered a Bad Hire? Three Common Examples

Bad hires come in many shapes and sizes, and what makes one employee a bad fit in one role might make them ideal for another. With that said, there are a few archetypes of bad hires that seem to pop up in every organization.

Let’s break down the telltale signs of these bad hires and what you can do to avoid hiring more of them in the future.

The Culture Clash/Bad Attitude

This type of bad hire grates against the dominant vibe of your workplace, often and quite loudly. Moreover, their poor fit often spirals into a consistently bad attitude, giving this bad hire a morale-killing one-two punch. 

Telltale Signs of a Culture Clash

  • Major complainer
  • Disrespectful or dismissive towards welcoming teammates
  • Negatively compares current role to previous positions regularly
  • Insubordinate towards team and company leadership

How to Avoid Hiring Bad Attitudes

  • Make interviewing a collaborative process with multiple members of your team to evaluate fit
  • Request opinions from secretaries, aides, or anyone else in your organization that may have interacted with the candidate before or after the interview

The Smooth Talker

Smooth talkers know just what to say to get what they want. 

Sometimes what they want is a position they are woefully underqualified to fill. Then they get through the screening process and on-board. Facing the day-to-day responsibilities of the role, their charade often quickly falls apart. 

Telltale Signs of a Smooth Talker

  • Impressive skill sets and extensive experience touted during the interview fails to show up in their performance
  • Regularly attempts to talk their way out of tough discussions surrounding performance and productivity
  • Struggles to meet minimum standards or targets teammates exceed easily 

How to Avoid Hiring a Smooth Talker

  • Implement a skills test for potential hires in your screening process
  • Include behavioral interview questions
  • Ask for a portfolio of their work
  • Remember that communication skills are only one facet of a successful salesperson

The Lost Puppy

You’ll spot lost puppies wandering around the office, searching for teammates or managers to guide them through routine tasks and responsibilities. 

All new hires need the training, tools, and time to adjust to their new role, but if a new hire seems to prefer offloading difficult tasks, you may be dealing with a lost puppy.

Telltale Signs of Lost Puppies 

  • Requires constant supervision
  • Avoids decision-making
  • Fails to retain training or retraining
  • Needs regular assistance from teammates but never lends a hand themselves

How to Avoid Hiring Lost Puppies

  • Seek out candidates with proven track records of solid productivity and performance
  • Ask potential hires to describe their process for self-teaching
  • See how they handle a solo skills test before bringing them onboard

The True Cost of Hiring the Wrong Employee

Hiring sales reps is an expensive process. But the real expenses come into play when you realize you’ve made a bad decision during that process. 

An entry-level bad hire can cost a company anywhere from 30% of the hire’s first-year salary, which comes out to a painful average of $15,000-20,000 down the drain. Senior positions can lead to even larger losses. Some estimates place the price of a bad hire in leadership roles as high as $240,000.

Realize that the cost of a bad hire includes more than the cost of replacing them. Bad hires also drive down teammates’ productivity and require 17% more time and supervision from managers compared to their peers. 

The time you spend recruiting to fill your now vacant position can also negatively impact an organization’s bottom line due to opportunity costs. 

Let’s say your bad hire was responsible for $50,000 in sales this quarter, and it takes all of Q1 to find a replacement. In this case, your organization lost $50k in opportunity cost on top of recruiting expenses.

You Hired the Wrong Person: What to Do Next in Seven Steps

If you’ve made a bad hiring decision, you’re probably looking for the quickest and most effective way out. 

Follow this step-by-step process to address the issue and avoid similar situations in the future.

Reduce Bad Hires with PerceptionPredict

Reducing bad hires can save your organization thousands of dollars, help retain high-performing employees, and protect your workplace culture. 

To learn more about PerceptionPredict’s unique predictive analytics, check out our case studies to see how we revolutionized how international leaders like Mercedes Benz and CrowdStrike recruit and hire.