9 Telltale Signs Of A Bad Hire You Shouldn’t Ignore

A woman in a black top sitting talking with another woman about the signs of a bad hire

Despite your endeavours to optimise your vetting, recruitment and onboarding process of new candidates, bad hires are still an unfortunate reality that you will likely face at some point down the line.

No business wants to admit they have hired the wrong person, but it’s a lot more common than you probably imagine it to be.

If you’re in the process of welcoming and onboarding a new team member into your business, look out for these 9 telltale signs of a bad hire and catch an issue before it has a negative impact on your business.

What is a bad hire?

In a nutshell, a bad hire is a new employee who is not as you expected; someone who is not a good match for their role or your wider business. There is a common misconception that a bad hire is an employee who leaves the business swiftly after joining. However, the reality is a bad hire could work in your business for multiple months before the fact they are a bad hire becomes evident.

Unfortunately, whether an individual is a bad hire or not, is not always clear at the interview stage – although there are certainly signs to look out for! A bad performance or a negative attitude isn’t always obvious until they have been in the role for a couple of weeks or months.

Additionally, it’s important for you to be aware that the onus on whether someone is a bad hire does not lie solely with the employee. A bad hire is a two-way street. You might think they’re doing a great job, but they might not feel the same about your company and give in their notice as a result. In such situations, it is important to thoroughly assess where you could improve. This should include how you conducted the interview process, your onboarding structure, and any promises you made to the person. By considering these, you’ll be able to get a better understanding of why they were a bad hire and how you can adapt in the future.

The warning signs of a bad hire:

  • Their skill level doesn’t match up to their promises

Some people have truly got interviews down to a fine art. However, when push comes to shove, they can’t practice what they preached in their interview. Some skills can be easily learnt and adapted to, however, technical skills and knowledge take time and someone starting the role without the necessary skillset could lead to significant issues for your business.

  • They have a lack of understanding about the role

There are always going to be teething issues with new team members, however, if your new hire doesn’t understand general and basic aspects of the role you’ve hired them for, they could have lied on their CV about their qualifications and skillset. Many individuals who find themselves in this position overcompensate by asking too many questions. However, if you have to hold their hand in every part of their new role, this is just one of the many clear signs of a bad hire.

  • They have a bad attitude

It’s great to work with strong and confident individuals, however, working with someone who sees themselves as better than the job, your team or the company is one of the signs of a bad hire. Some naive employers don’t consider arrogance to be a bad thing, however, it could cause your team or customers to become alienated due to the individual’s attitude, both negatively impacting your bottom line.

  • They are tardy

Everyone understands that some situations are out of our control. Everyone is late once in a while, but if a new employee consistently turns up later with no explanation, it’s a clear sign of a bad hire. If someone wants to do well, a simple conversation around the importance of being on time and not being tardy should do the trick. If not, they are clearly not taking the role seriously.

  • They keep mentioning their old role

An individual using their past experiences to do well in their new role is logical. After all, you will have hired the individual at least in part due to their previous experience in specific industries and tasks. They might have seen techniques or approaches that could benefit your company.

However, if they constantly reference their previous role, saying things like “in my old job we didn’t do it like that” or “my old manager would never do that” this is a clear sign of someone who hasn’t moved on, which could lead to them being a bad hire.

  • They can’t adapt to change

Following on from my previous point, if the individual is struggling to adapt to how your company operates compared to their previous employer, this could be a sign of a bad hire. Change is happening constantly, and if someone is unwilling to open their mind to how you work and be agile in their approach, they might end up being disruptive to your team operations and productivity. Additionally, you have to look ahead and consider whether this inability to accept change could negatively impact your customer relationships as they evolve and change over time.

  • They aren’t delivering work on time

If the individual is consistently not hitting agreed deadlines and due dates, this is certainly one of the signs of a bad hire. It signals that they are unhappy in their role, and potentially don’t care about the work they are doing and if the company benefits from having them in the team.

  • They are interfering with other people’s work

Supporting colleagues and taking workload off busy team members is super helpful. However, if an individual is doing it with everyone, but is consistently not delivering their tasks on time, this is a sign of a bad hire.

Overstepping could be their way of trying to assert themselves as a leader or into a position that you did not hire them for. It’s highly disrespectful and could lead to a multitude of issues within your team if unaddressed.

  • They aren’t learning from their mistakes

It’s human to make mistakes, especially for new employees just getting to grips with their role. However, if you keep picking up the same mistakes over and over again, you have to consider whether they are ever going to learn how to correct themselves. A well-rounded team member who cares about what they’re doing won’t repeatedly make the same mistake. The cost of a bad hire doing this could include productivity being constantly impacted, with team members needing to double check the individual’s work or spend time fixing their mistakes.


If you’re are looking to replace a bad hire and require the assistance of a specialist recruitment agency to secure the right individual, please get in touch to learn more about our bespoke services.

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