I suppose it isn’t Tony’s fault that, to this day, I refer to him as ‘The Worst Hire EVER’.

And I’m not even being passive aggressive with that - he WAS a terrible hire that caused a huge amount of other issues that took a long time to unpick and fix… but it was my fault (well, me and the hiring team).

I still remember the moment the red flags were just popping up all over during the interview and I ignored them in favour of expediency and group think (never good options!)

Tony: “So what is your job here then?”

Me: “I’m the Learning and Development Manager for the UK locations”

Tony: “Ok so a generic HR person, good to know that we won’t be working together”

awkward silence…

Me: “Well, there is a great HR team here that you would meet and work with, but I’m actually accountable for culture, learning, leadership, employee engagement and a few special projects. It’s a really great role here”

Tony: “Ok… whatever… when will I be meeting with other people?”


If he’s dismissive, condescending, superior and rude NOW… just imagine if he gets the job!

And then… The Hiring Manager loved him. Said he was the best technical resource he’s seen and we need to jump at the chance to get him on the team.

I did say I was a bit worried about the fit in the team but, ok, if you like him then sure let’s bring him in (BIG MISTAKE HERE).

In his 5 months in the team he alienated his team members, bullied a colleague to the point where that person went on leave, was rude to customers and caused a huge headache of management and HR… and in the end he quit.

Let me reiterate. Not Tony’s fault. Our fault.

And here’s the lessons learned on hiring that I’m BEGGING you to learn from us rather than make the same mistakes!

1. Must Have Incredibly Clear Expectations (Technical AND Behavioural)

Sounds obvious but I see this mistake make all the time, especially with replacement roles. A job posting is cobbled together and thrown up on recruitment sites to just ‘see what’s out there’. Big mistake. Before you even THINK of recruiting a new person into your team you have to be crystal clear on the purpose of the role and what the expectations would be.

2. Look for Minimum Technical Ability

Yes, that’s right, what is the absolute bare minimum ability you could bring into the team. THAT is the standard you want to look for in technical ability, and train them up from there. Think more about the things that are incredibly hard to train for - work ethic, attitude, communication skills, team work - these are the ones that you want to select for.

3. Values and Fit in the team are NOT Secondary to Technical Ability

Do not make the mistake of thinking ‘oh well, they’re a technical expert so we can put up with them being a bit of an a$$’. No. No you cannot - the knock on effect of them being a bad fit, the time it will take you as a manager to constantly be fielding complaints, following up with them, giving them feedback… No. Just no. Technical ability has to be equal weight to Values and Fit in the team.

4. Have Co-workers also Interview - Then Have a Blind Vote

This is huge. Everyone meets with the individual, then have a blind vote of ‘yes or no’, THEN discuss why you like or dislike the candidate. The minute a hiring manager says ‘I love them’ or ‘No they’re not right’, it pretty much shuts down more conversation on it. And trust me your employees are absolutely going to see positive and critical things that you miss. You need their honest view, not their group think.

5. Invest Time Now - AND Move Fast

Exactly what it says. Take time to get the job posting right, to interview the top candidates… and then once you have someone do NOT wait around. Get an offer in front of them asap - if they’re good trust me they’ll have other options.

6. Ask Them to Demonstrate a Key Skill

This is something I recommend to every business I work with. Interviews are an art more than a science anyway, so why not add a bit more weight. If public speaking or presentations are key, have them prepare and present a presentation. If it’s customer service, have them role play a ‘tricky’ customer interaction with you. If it’s project management, have them prepare a sample project plan to review.

Only caveat - warn them ahead of time. Springing some sales role play on someone during an interview that they weren’t able to prepare for his just mean and will backfire on you - they’ll leave thinking not such nice things about you!

7. If you Say There’s ‘No Good Talent Out There’… You’re Doing Something Wrong

Yes I’m afraid so. I’m not saying there’s not a shortage of skilled labour in many areas, that is true. So what are you doing to get creative? Mentoring programs? Recruiting from out of town? Relocation funding? Re-training programs? Partnering with local universities and colleges?

Come on, get creative!

What do you think of this list? Agree, disagree? What will you try differently with your hiring? Let me know in the comments or over on social media!