Less Than the Ideal Candidate

“I hired Tony about 4 weeks ago but now realize he doesn’t have skills at the level I expected or need. What are my options?”

Your HR Survival Tip

It can be difficult to find and hire the ideal person. Many candidates have spent more effort in improving their interview skills than their job skills. Once you’ve discovered the employee has fewer skills or knowledge than you thought, you have decisions to make.

The decisions are based on informing Tony he doesn’t meet expectations and talking through your decision. This can be a difficult conversation so be prepared to explain what you expected versus what you’ve found Tony can do. You can then either inform Tony of your decision or offer him options:

  • You can just let Tony continue to muddle through and see if he magically improves. Unfortunately, we see this too often simply because people don’t want to have to go through the recruiting and interviewing process again so soon. What you don’t think about is the other employees who notice Tony isn’t holding up his end and wonder why they bother to work so hard for you. This option merely adds to your problems.

  • If you can use someone with less skill, consider keeping Tony but at a lower wage and title. He may grow into the employee you need. This works best if there is at least one other employee who can help teach Tony.

  • You can provide a PIP (performance improvement plan) that gives Tony 30-90 days to get up to speed. If you originally had a job description (which is always recommended), you can use that as the basis for what you need and expect from him. A PIP is explicit and has deadlines throughout. This can be great if your company likes to give people a chance to improve or to prove they can do the work.

  • You can admit to making a mistake and terminate Tony. Making a bad hiring decision happens to everyone occasionally but the fault is more on the interviewer than the candidate because you needed to ask better questions to confirm his skills were at the required level. Developing a good interview takes time and practice so try to learn from any hiring mistakes.

Rather than spending time making bad hiring decisions, spend time learning how to interview better. There are techniques you can learn to help drill down when interviewing so you better understand each candidate’s true skill level. Ask others in the company to also interview your candidates so you can compare notes. The process of replacing a bad hire is costly, both in time and money. Yet managers will typically spend a lot more time and effort researching and justifying a new piece of equipment than they do when hiring an employee. Why is that?

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