How to Tell if a Potential Employee is a Bad Match

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Your employees contribute to the success of your small business. The more skilled and engaged your team is, the better your business will perform. However, finding the perfect employees for your business can be challenging. Learn about the red flags for which you should watch so you don’t hire someone who is a bad match for your small business.

Identifying Signs of a Bad Match During the Interview

The interview process is when employers have the opportunity to gauge whether a candidate is right for their organization. While an employee may seem like a perfect fit based off his resume, he can present a totally different picture in the interview. Often, the candidate’s personality, demeanor or behavior can signal red flags to the business.

Before interviewing any candidates, make a list of the top qualities you are seeking in an employee. This should include both professional credentials and personal traits. In addition to experience, you’ll want to make sure that the candidate is a culture fit with the rest of your team and that he has the kind of work ethic you’re seeking in an employee. During the interview process, you can refer to your ideal candidate list to ensure you’re hiring someone who meets your standards.

At the interview, be on the lookout for possible signs that the employee may be a bad match. These may include:

  • Lack of knowledge about the company: If it’s clear that the candidate hasn’t researched your business before the interview, he may not be right for your company. Give him the opportunity to ask questions to see what he already knows about you.

  • Differing set of priorities: Be sure to ask the candidate what he values in an employer because you will want to make sure that matches with what you have to offer. If he says he values lots of vacation time and you value a work-life balance, for example, he may not be the right employee for you.

  • Misrepresenting: Review the candidate’s resume with him in detail. If you have a sense that he has given inconsistent answers, it’s possible he is trying to misrepresent his experience, education or expertise in order to fit the job description.

Realizing You’ve Hired the Wrong Employee

Sometimes, you will go through the interview process and the candidate will seem like the perfect addition to your existing team. However, as a few days and weeks go by, you may come to see that the employee is not who you thought she was. Sometimes, the signs of a bad fit don’t show up until after the employee has been hired.

If your new employee is exhibiting any behavior that makes you think twice, you may need to decide whether she is the right fit. For example, a new employee may:

  • Expect the business to accommodate her needs: Instead of making life easier for the business and the team members, a new employee can sometimes expect the business to change processes or priorities based on her interests.

  • Focus on the promotion on day one: Some people are always looking for the next big thing. If the new employee is already asking about how she can move up in the company without focusing on her current job, it could be difficult for your other employees to adjust.

  • Lack productivity: Compare the results the new employee provides with the last person who did that job. If there is a drastic difference in productivity, the new employee may not have the right experience or work ethic.

  • Have a bad attitude: If the new employee is not respectful to her fellow human beings, displays atrocious behavior or does not abide by your business’s code of conduct, it’s time for a serious conversation.

Helping Your New Employee Adjust

It could be possible that your new employee is having trouble adjusting to the workplace. Perhaps your small business is different from any other employment he had before, or he needs to adjust his expectations about the role. Often, the transitional period after starting a new job is a stressful one, and it could be causing your employee to behave differently than he normally would.

Help your new employee adjust to your business by:

  • Providing a welcome package: Draft a new employee orientation guide and include everything he needs to know about working at your business. This includes your mission, vision and core values as well as your organizational chart and company policies.

  • Assigning a mentor: Have a senior staff mentor help the employee adjust by offering workplace expertise and camaraderie. This is a good way for the new employee to ask questions he may be too nervous to ask the boss.

  • Having an HR check-in: Have the new employee sit down with a human resources representative to discuss how his first few weeks are going. Be sure to provide helpful feedback to the employee at this meeting as well.   

Offering Suggestions to Improve the Fit

If the transitional period has long passed and the new employee still seems like a bad match for your organization, it’s time to intervene. Remember that receiving negative feedback can seem like a personal attack and that the employee may be upset. However, it’s critical to speak honestly and clearly, offering constructive ways the employee can improve her performance at work.

Begin by reminding the employee of your goals and expectations for the role. Go over the job description in detail so her responsibilities are clear. Use data to discuss her performance to date, like the revenue she has brought in or the number of customers she has served and compare the data to the goals. Seeing the numbers may help the employee to better understand where she stands in terms of performance.

Discuss your company’s core values with the employee and showcase specific examples where she has differed in her behavior. Let the employee know what the consequences will be if she is not able to improve her performance. Be sure to provide a timeline so the employee is aware of how much time she has to improve.

Knowing When It’s Not Going to Work Out

Your new employee may be a bad fit if you’ve tried to discuss his performance with him multiple times, and there has not been any improvement. If that is the case, it may be time to let the employee go. Be sure to be specific about why he is being terminated. This way, you can avoid any potential wrongful termination claims.

Have a plan for the replacement before the employee is terminated. You will need to know who will be covering his workload while you hire another employee. You may also need to tweak the job description so it’s clear to candidates what you’re seeking. Be sure to note the red flags you noticed with this employee so you can avoid them with any future hires, which may include behavior during the interview process or something you noticed on the resume.

Keep in mind that you’ll also have to notify your other employees about the termination, and they may have questions about their own job security. Reassure your team about the future of your business and their place in it. Remember to act with compassion during the termination process so your other employees can see how well you handle difficult situations.

References

About the Author

Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.