9 Reasons Why Your New Hire Didn’t Work Out

It isn’t easy to admit a hiring mistake, but it happens.

You think you’ve hired the right person, yet you find yourself wondering why the employee standing in front of you bears no resemblance to the one you met four weeks ago in the interview.

Or maybe all those brilliant qualities you were sure you saw in the interview aren’t quite translating to on the job success.

Whatever the challenge, and despite all the candidate screening technology, hiring is not an exact sciencedidntworkout.

So if you find yourself scratching your head wondering what went wrong, it might be one of the following:

1. You asked bizarre questions that have only one right answer.

Are you asking candidates to arrange blocks in a particular order? Or maybe you asked them to draw a bicycle? Whatever the strange request, don’t use this as a key deciding factor. As interesting as the insights you may derive from these assessments, they probably won’t reveal how an employee will perform down the road. If you really want to get creative with questions, consider asking them open ended questions that allow for an insight into their thought process—like the one about how many gas stations there are in America.

2. You reverted to nepotism or cronyism.

With the time and energy devoted to recruiting, it’s no surprise we first scour own network for the right candidate. Sometimes this is a good thing; but sometimes it isn’t. Just because you and Joe worked nicely in company XYZ, doesn’t mean that Joe is the right fit for ABC. Use caution when hiring people you’ve worked closely with before and make sure you have buy-in from more than just yourself.

3. You got desperate.

You were so desperate to fill the role that you overlooked everything—like their lack of education and expertise. Or maybe you didn’t bother checking references. Don’t let desperation prevent you from taking the time to find the right candidate.

4. You got hung up on education.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to hire someone educated—especially if the role requires specialized training. But don’t get hung up on having a generic degree as a requirement. Education matters, but so do a lot of other things. So if an MBA is your prerequisite think about exactly why that matters and how you think that will help the company. If you cannot answer this immediately, it’s time to re-think your strategy.

5. You were won over by an overly prepared applicant.

Making good eye contact, complimenting your vision statement, and saying they love cold calling is something everyone can say or do. It’s called preparation. In a competitive job market applicants know how to do their homework prior. This doesn’t mean they are your next rock-star employee.

6. You tried to hire the opposite of whoever filled the role before.

If your last employee was a complete nightmare don’t be tempted to hire the exact opposite. In other words, replacing a domineering megalomaniac with an introverted employee who cannot make decisions won’t get you any further ahead. Forget the last hiring mistake, and focus on making this one right.

7. They sounded SO much like you.

So don’t be swayed by an applicant just because they went to your fraternity, or because they also play hockey. It’s easy to get hung up in similarities, but it’s the differences that make employees and culture special.

8. You dismissed other (better) candidates on silly criteria.

They sweated too much, they were five minutes late, or they appeared nervous (don’t you want someone who is nervous? This likely means they WANT the job and are eager to do a good job). You get the point. Don’t dismiss a candidate on something insignificant that doesn’t relate to the job they are interviewing for.

9. You weren’t transparent.

Allow interviewees to see exactly who you are and what type of environment your workplace is. Tell them all about your culture, and don’t downplay the work involved if it’s a lot. The more transparent you are, the less likely a misunderstanding will be during those first few weeks.

Kelly Batke

Kelly Batke

Freelance Content Marketer at Kelly Communicates
I am a Vancouver based freelance content writer with a passion for simplifying communication. Anyone who knows me knows how impatient I am—and that’s a good thing when creating sharp content because my primary motive is to always be understood quickly. I have studied Technical Writing, Marketing, Public Relations and Communications, and Creative Writing. Prior to working freelance I spearheaded the marketing and communications at Jostle, a Vancouver based tech startup. I also spent three years overseeing the communications at Faronics, an IT security company. In my free time I can be found perfecting my triple pirouette in the ballet studio or having lunch at Taco Bell (which remains my marketing inspiration!)
Kelly Batke
Kelly Batke




  • April 18, 2014


    Ahhh, this brings back some memories and the lessons I learned from it.  Thoroughly enjoyed your points, Kelly.

  • April 18, 2014


    Kelly – Wow. Good points, Regarding number one, unless it’s really relevant to the job, it’s pointless to ask for pure linear reasoning in interview questions. Don’t we want creative, novel thinkers coming up with diverse solutions to our business problems? Well, I would , anyway. Nice post. I enjoyed it – and it flashed me back to a few job interviews. 🙂


  • April 18, 2014


    Wow, this is a position I have never had ~ hiring, but I can see exactly how these 9 points could happen and why they will almost always lead to disappointment ~ or worse, disaster. Thank you for this!