Six Classic Hiring Horror Stories
When good new hires go bad.
Read these six classic hiring horror stories (if you dare!)
When it comes to new hires, the majority of the discussion centers on recruitment. But what about what happens after you manage to hire that star candidate?
The recruitment process is just the beginning of the employee lifecycle, and is merely a blip in comparison to the tenure an employee may have with your organization. And while the recruitment process may give you an idea of how the employee-employer relationship with a particular new hire will go, you don’t really know what you’re going to get until they actually start working for you. And occasionally, the wonderful person you thought you hired may not be who turns up on the new hire’s first day of employment – they might just be the start of your very own hiring horror story!
In the spirit of Halloween, we’ve compiled a list of the cast of characters an employer might encounter when new hires go bad:
The Friendly Ghost (aka the “Disappearing Employee”)
How to recognize this “hiring horror story monster”: While your newest employee is usually a positive spirit, it often feels like he’s invisible, nowhere to be found. Even though he just arrived, he’s constantly taking time off, calling in sick or leaving early, and his co-workers are frustrated by the amount of extra work his disappearing act is creating for them.
How to defeat him: You don’t need to hold a séance to vanquish this ghost. Simple have him recite your company’s vacation and sick leave or PTO policies from the employee handbook. If, after having him acknowledge your company’s policy, he goes right back into his vanishing routine, you’ll have cause to take disciplinary action.
The Dracula Drain (aka the “Time Suck”)
How to recognize this “hiring horror story monster”: When you hired this employee, you thought he had the potential to one day be the lifeblood of your department. But instead of bringing new life to your organization, his poor attitude and performance issues are sucking up so much of your time and energy that it’s leaving you feeling drained and lifeless.
How to defeat him: Skip the garlic and silver cross for this bloodsucker – the last thing you want is to lose the time, money and energy you’ve already spent getting him onboarded. Instead, provide some additional training on your company’s systems and processes to help get him up to speed. If your company doesn’t have the capacity to provide the necessary training on its own, look online for training options. Alternatively, have him work closely under the supervision of a more experienced employee until he learns the ropes. Be wary of who you pick to train your new hires, though – you don’t want them to unknowingly pick up any bad habits.
The Bride of Frankenstein (aka the “Unqualified Relative”)
How to recognize this “hiring horror story monster”: No matter if you work for a “family business” or a national corporation, nepotism can still rear its ugly head when a position opens up. Even if there are more qualified candidates, you still may find yourself pressured to hire the boss’ daughter-in-law, for instance. (That kind of recommendation is kind of hard to ignore, after all.) But from her very first day, it’s clear that, as you predicted, this new hire just doesn’t have the skills or experience the position calls for. If only you could have demonstrated this obvious fact to your boss before you had to hire her…
How to defeat her: The best way to avoid this new-hire monster is to develop a well-defined job description before you even begin advertising an open position. The job description should clearly list all the required skills and experience you expect candidates to posses. Think of the job description as a shield, one that is capable of protecting you from having to interview any unqualified applicants.
The Skinny Skeleton (aka the one with “Great Bones, But No Muscle”)
How to recognize this “hiring horror story monster”: After weeks of interviewing subpar candidates, you were dazzled when this employee’s seemingly flawless resume crossed your desk. The weeks of searching for a qualified candidate were over! But your euphoria quickly wore off once you realized what had looked like a heavy-hitter on paper was really a lightweight that lacked the muscle to get the job done.
How to defeat him: This new-hire monster is actually relatively easy to spot once you’ve honed your interview skills and learn what kind of questions to ask in order to get to the root of a candidate’s actual abilities. Probing questions about the skills and work experience listed on his resume will quickly expose a skinny skeleton. Still not sure about a candidate? Follow up with previous employers to start fleshing out a more complete picture of your prospective hire.
The Working Werewolf (aka the “Post-Hire Morph”)
How to recognize this “hiring horror story monster”: The first time your newly hired employee showed up looking downright beastly, you gave her the benefit of the doubt. After all, we’ve all had mornings when there simply wasn’t time to find a perfectly pressed shirt. But when it became clear that this night crawler was no longer even attempting to dress for success, you began to cringe when you thought about what she might wear next.
How to defeat him: Conversations about appropriate work attire are almost always uncomfortable at best, and downright mortifying at worst, for both the manager and the employee. Having a company dress code in place that sets a defined standard for what is and is not acceptable at the office makes it easier for managers to have these conversations with any employees whose outfits are less work wear and more nightmare.
The Wicked Witch (aka the one who’s “Green With Envy”)
How to recognize this “hiring horror story monster”: When you first met this employee, you were blown away by her eagerness. “Wow, she’s a real go-getter!” you remember marveling to yourself after you left the interview. But while her drive helped her tackle the required training courses at a record pace, her need to be the best is making her act less than friendly to her coworkers, and is toxic to your team’s morale.
How to defeat her: When approaching this witch, you should be careful to not be overly harsh with her. After all, that ambition is what inspired you to hire her in the first place. Instead, remind her that your company is really only interested in people who can be team players and who treat their co-workers with dignity and respect. A little less Wicked Witch, and a little more Glinda. It also wouldn’t hurt to remind her that you’ll be taking both her attitude and her results into consideration when evaluating her overall performance.
Do any of these hiring horror stories sound familiar? Tell us about the “new-hire monsters” you’ve encountered and how you vanquished them in the comment section below, or tweet about them using the hashtag #HiringHorror. And don’t forget to follow and tag @GAPartners!