3 Lessons Learned From Hiring the Wrong Person

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Founder of Practice Makes Perfect
4 min read
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A few months ago, I let my team’s current workload distract me from our big picture vision -- building a great mission-driven company with incredibly passionate people.  

During our hiring process, we settled on a candidate that came across as capable but not passionate. (I am almost convinced that passion is not something you can teach someone.) After weeks of lackluster performance, we decided to let them go. It wasn’t easy. Not only was it an expensive lesson, but the process of letting someone go is mentally and emotionally draining.

When you hire someone for a role in a small company, you can’t forget that you’re also hiring him or her to be a brand ambassador. Their interactions with people and supporters may sometimes be the only impression you get to leave them with, so make sure it counts for the right reason. Ultimately, every hire in your early stages should be just as passionate and invested in the success of the company, because it not only impacts everyone’s future but also your startup’s survival.

Related: 6 Ways to Land the Perfect Employee Who Isn't Job Hunting

Here is what we learned about hiring the wrong person and a few takeaways for entrepreneurs:

1. Avoid hiring full-time employees outright. This is especially important for the first set of new hires that are outside of your immediate circle of professionals that you have not previously worked with.

Today, it is typical for companies to start individuals on a trial period. Thirty to 90 day trials are fairly common before making a final decision on their employment. The period provides you with an opportunity to gauge passion for a job and overall group fit. Some people may come across as well polished and can feign interest during an interview. That is a lot harder over a multi-week trial period.

2. Be patient. This is probably the thing I, and most entrepreneurs, struggle with most. We are all dreamers with big visions and those ambitions cause us to set lofty goals. In our hearts, we know the goals are achievable but sometimes they require just a little more help than we anticipated.

When we made our third hire, we were feeling a little overwhelmed and we let that influence our decision-making process. Instead of looking to find the right person for our company – shared the same mission, values and capabilities -- we found ourselves looking for a person that we believed was strictly capable of doing the work.

Related: The Hardest Jobs for Entrepreneurs to Fill Are Also the Most Important

3. Implement a 100 percent rule for your first 10 hires. Until our team grows to more than 10 people, every one in the organization must approve every one who is interested in joining our team for a full-time position -- regardless of their role. This will not only ensure that everyone is involved in the decision making process, it will also increase everyone’s commitment to the new team members success within our organization. Onboarding an employee when you are busy is never easy, and it only becomes more challenging if not everyone is bought into their success.

We are in process of re-hiring for the position that is now vacant on our team and have been very transparent about our previous experience through our interview with potential candidates. We are yet to run across someone that has been resistive to our new screening method.

These tips or suggestions are not likely to completely eliminate whether you will have to fire someone again, but hopefully, they will increase your odds of making the right decision on your next big hire.

Related: How to Avoid Hiring Duds
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