5 Immediate Signs You Hired The Wrong Person

Hiring a new employee can be a little like starting a new relationship.  As the boss you’re excited and hopeful—and you can often overlook signs that indicate things might not work out as well as you hope.

Plus newly hired employees typically start a new job at the top of their professional games. In terms of attitude, effort and enthusiasm, you usually get the very best a new hire has to offer. That’s why any problems that surface during the first days almost always turn out to be the tip of a poor-performing employee iceberg.

Here are five ways to tell, within days, that you may have made a bad hiring decision:

They exercise the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of social media. I realize employees assume having Facebook, Twitter and Internet access for personal reasons are a given.

Almost every employee will take time out of their day for a little non-work social media action. But if you catch a new employee during non-break periods updating his Facebook status (especially if the new status is, “My new job sucks!”) you can bet his personal web time will only grow in the future. The same goes for texting.

They have immediate attendance problems. An employee who is late or absent within the first few weeks will nearly always be a chronic attendance offender.

I once analyzed attendance records for more than 1,000 employees over a five-year period and found employees late or absent in the first week of employment had a 35% likelihood of violating attendance standards and a 45% likelihood of hovering, for years, within one or two absences of violating standards.

There are exceptions, but an employee who misses one day early only usually misses a lot of days later.

They’re an “I need…” guy. The average person starts a job assuming the resources provided are the resources available and necessary, and only asks for additional tools when justified.

A “first day requisitioner” that instantly needs a better computer, a different desk, specialized software and applications, etc. will tend to constantly find external reasons why their performance is poor instead of looking at themselves.

They’re an “At my old job…” gal. New employees should bring skills and experience from previous positions. But no one wants to constantly hear how a previous employer did things, especially when a previous employer allegedly did those things better.

New employees who frequently say, “You know, at my old job we used to…” have not made the mental and emotional transition to your business.

Watch carefully for signs they continue to struggle with the transition — your company could be their rebound company.

They have assertion overdrive. While new employees should voice their opinions, raise concerns and stand behind their reasoning and decisions, they should also take it slowly and feel their way through interpersonal and organizational dynamics so they build positive relationships first.

A new employee who takes too strong a stand, argues too long or loud, or even borders on confrontational is likely to be a handful once the new hire honeymoon period is over. Quietly assertive is good; loudly assertive, especially in the first few weeks, means you might want to get a head start on the termination paperwork.

If you disagree with my list or have your own warning signs for new employees who aren’t likely to last, feel free to fire away (terrible pun intended).

  • softskillsworld

    One more symptom of wrong hire is what an employee does when no one monitors him or her as that shows the real character of a man.

  • Chris

    Hmmm. See little use for this type of an article.

  • http://twitter.com/Nuritje Nuria

    I totally disagree on the above. What you define above is basically what employees find it attractive to remain in a given company. Do not forget that Employees make the company no the other way round. Without employees there is no production, without production there is no profit, without profit there is no company.

    Also..the term”average” person is unfortunate when companies are nowadays looking for non average persons, thinkers, able to innovate .

  • CPN

    As Softskillsworld mentioned, these are generalize symptoms of a bad employee. The issue that I find to be most absurd is number three, “they’re an ‘I need…’ guy”. I have been, and know of multiple other colleagues that have been hired as either temporary or permanent to fill a specific, new role at a company. Within days it became apparent that the company was wrong to hire Anyone, as they were not ready to move forward with new software, procedures, etc etc etc. It may not be the hire that is wrong, but the hiree.

  • JC

    I disagree with this list although sounds like right there are a few things that
    make an employee act the way you list for example.

    1. “But if you catch a new employee during non-break periods updating his Facebook
    status..” Ever thought that they already completed the work? Are they
    being challenged in the new job?.

    2. “An employee who is late or absent within the first few weeks will nearly always be
    a chronic attendance offender.” I can agree that this is an indicator but
    sometimes people just have bad luck. This should not be the only reason the
    move forward with termination. This indicator should have other things accompanying it.

    3. “A first day requisitioner” that instantly needs a better computer, a different
    desk, specialized software and applications, etc.” everyone in a new job
    NEEDS help and if your company is one that it still running Windows XP then yes
    these things are needed.

    4. “You know, at my old job we used to…” If a new employee says something
    like that I would welcome it because you never know if it’s a good idea or not,
    that is the only reference they have specially if they have been in a company
    for a long time.

    5. “A new employee who takes too strong a stand, argues too long or loud, or even
    borders on confrontational is likely to be a handful” Im not too sure on this
    one, is it an unethical issue? Are they supposed to agree with everything you
    say? What position is this person responsible for?

    This list is vague at most.

  • Tomg

    Wow…where to start with this article…

    Attendance problems…sure, an obvious red flag (which may indicate personal problems and not wanton irresponsibility. There’s only one way to find out for sure, right?).

    If you see a new employee using social media that’s a red flag? Really? Would you change your mind if she was tweeting about new analyst research supporting your company’s technology? Or if he was inviting his new co-workers to connect on LinkedIn? And even if they are updating their Facebook status, so what? How about judging employees based on their outputs (which by the way will identify any and all neglect of work duties) instead of technophobic snooping?

    “A “first day requisitioner” that instantly needs a better computer, a
    different desk, specialized software and applications, etc. will tend to
    constantly find external reasons why their performance is poor instead
    of looking at themselves.” Does the new hire explain why more RAM or a given new application is needed? I suppose if the hire was to explain, ‘Well, at my previous company, I found that…’ would yield a double whammy, labeling the new hire a “first day requisitioner” AND an “At my old job…gal”! Yikes! Quick, “get a head start on the termination paperwork”! BTW…what’s a “gal”? ;-)

    As for criticizing a new hire for offering up a different perspective on a business policy or process based on past experience as “not [making] the mental and emotional transition to your business”, or admonishing a new hire to “take it slowly and feel their way through interpersonal and organizational dynamics so they build positive relationships first” before pressing an issue, I’d say those are both red flags, all right…for the new hire! Both smack of a corporate culture that is not open to new ideas and burdened by palace politics and sacred cows (which at enlightened companies make the best burgers!)

    Sorry, but most of this article amounts to talent repellant.

  • Tomg

    Wow…where to start with this article…

    Attendance problems…sure, an obvious red flag (which may indicate personal problems and not wanton irresponsibility. There’s only one way to find out for sure, right?).

    If you see a new employee using social media that’s a red flag? Really? Would you change your mind if she was tweeting about new analyst research supporting your company’s technology? Or if he was inviting his new co-workers to connect on LinkedIn? And even if they are updating their Facebook status, so what? How about judging employees based on their outputs (which by the way will identify any and all neglect of work duties) instead of technophobic snooping?

    “A “first day requisitioner” that instantly needs a better computer, a
    different desk, specialized software and applications, etc. will tend to
    constantly find external reasons why their performance is poor instead
    of looking at themselves.” What a ridiculously groundless assertion! Does the new hire explain why more RAM or a given new application is needed? I suppose if the hire was to explain, ‘Well, at my previous company, I found that…’ would yield a double whammy, labeling the new hire a “first day requisitioner” AND an “At my old job…gal”! Yikes! Quick, “get a head start on the termination paperwork”!

    BTW…what’s a “gal”? ;-)

    As for criticizing a new hire for offering up a different perspective on a business policy or process based on past experience as “not [making] the mental and emotional transition to your business”, or admonishing a new hire to “take it slowly and feel their way through interpersonal and organizational dynamics so they build positive relationships first” before pressing an issue, I’d say those are both red flags, all right…for the new hire! Both smack of a corporate culture that is not open to new ideas and burdened by palace politics and sacred cows (which at enlightened companies make the best burgers!)

    Sorry, but most of this article amounts to talent repellant.

  • http://twitter.com/lohphat lohphat

    “They have assertion overdrive.” What if the reason they have that attitude is because your business is in trouble, time is running out to save it, and you’ve hired the right person to fix it but the old, self-destructive culture is affronted by the fresh competence?

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