• Laura Johnston

You Made a Bad Hire, Now What?

Maybe you have been here before. You were overloaded with work and simply could not keep up. You found yourself buried and falling short of your obligations and you were burned out!

You are not alone. There isn’t an entrepreneur out there who hasn’t felt those pains. So, in desperation you make a quick hire, or worse, you hire your neighbor, your sister or a friend. It isn’t working so what do you do?

At this point, it likely isn’t their fault. They were hired without clarity of their role, clarity on your expectations, and were not trained properly to satisfy the needs of the position. If this is your first hire, there was no one there to train them because you were too busy running around like a chicken with your head cut off!

No judgement. I have been there. Because of this, I learned a better way and I am going to share the steps to building a team that can take your business higher and make you excited about the organization you are building.

But first, let’s talk a little about culture. The culture of your organization is important to think about. Is your organization virtual, is it a fun, free and lax environment, do you envision collaboration among your team? What kind of place is this to work?

When making a hire, slowing down to find the right person for the right position at the right time is imperative. It is very expensive making the wrong hire. Recruiting, hiring, and training takes time and money. Getting the right person saves a lot of time, money and headache!

1. What do you need?

Before you even think about who will fill that position, get really clear on what the position is. What tasks to you want this person to handle? Who do you want this person to report to? I use a job profile template. It is a one-page document that starts with the job title, who we are looking for, and who we are (our value story). It states what your new hire will do, what they are responsible for and who they will report to. It states what knowledge and skills are required and last, what compensation package will be offered. Getting really clear on this before you start the process is key.

2. The Hiring Process

This is a four-step process. I call this filtering for the right fit.

Step One: Screen Test:

a. Can they follow instructions. Require a simple request, such as “include a cover letter” with their resume. It is surprising how many applicants this weeds out immediately.

b. Phone Screening- 3 minutes

c. Referrals – Get a list of referrals.

d. Sample of Work

Step Two: The Interview Process

First Interview:

Create a list of great open-ended questions, and you need to be a great listener. Take about 30 minutes to establish their track record. Let them ask questions and pay attention to their depth of interest and thinking skills.

If they are an initial match - take DiSC assessment – do a debrief on results. This is an opportunity to learn about their communication style and how they see themselves.

Second Interview:

Life Story Interview. The goal of this interview is to go beyond what the candidate had done to uncover why and how they did it and what they learned from these experiences. Take an hour to discover their thinking, their culture and their track record.

Third Interview:

Motivational Interview. The goal of this interview is to uncover the candidate’s core culture and how they think about their future in key dimensions of their life. Take an hour or so and include the values conversation. This creates a predictable emotional response and deliberately builds trust.

Step Three: Perspective

Group Interview:

Your candidate’s final interview is with the team, where you will have them spend time with their potential future teammates. Prepare your team with the kinds of questions and observations you’d like them to make during the conversation. This is intended to be fun and not a serious grilling process. The Interview should be casual, and friendly conversation between peers in a relaxed setting. This is a great way to showcase the culture of your organization.


Requesting references and calling them to confirm with others that the candidate is who they say they are will help predict future achievement from past performance. You should verify their knowledge, skills, track record, behavior, thinking and culture.

The Defense:

Create a committee of coworkers who have a stake in the outcome. Include a person on the committee who can play devil’s advocate. Someone who is unbiased and more likely to make good decisions when there is a voice of dissent. Spend time to review all that you have learned over this process.

So, if you have made a bad hire, you can recover. If you choose to keep them as a part of your team because you see their potential to be the right person. Go back to step 1. What do you need? Can you get really clear on what the position requires? Can you get clear on the tasks to you want this person to handle? Do you know who you want this person is responsible for and who they will report to?

Hiring is just the first step in building a cohesive and productive team. Giving them the support and training they need to be successful and providing a pathway to a big life in your organization are next. Keep up with our Blog and we will cover what a 30-60-90 Training Plan should look like next week.

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