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Five Ways for How to Avoid A Bad Hire

As a small business owner, one of the things you might want to know more about is how to avoid a bad hire. After all, bad hires are costly – in both time and money. Therefore, avoiding a bad hire in the first place is always a smart idea.

However, there is one critical thing you must understand about bad hires. That one thing is that not everyone we label as a bad hire while they are exiting the organization was a poor hire. As business owners and managers, we sometimes actually create bad hires. Therefore, one of the best way to avoid a bad hire is not to turn a good hire into a bad hire.

Five Ways for How to Avoid a Bad Hire Within Your Small Business:


1. Don’t Ignore the Red Flags

You know the saying hindsight is 20/20? Sometimes that can be very true when it comes to hiring. When it comes to bad hires, red flags are often flying clearly in front of our faces during the hiring process. However, we choose to ignore them.

Red flags during the application and interview process often end up being problems once an employee is on staff.

  • Late to the interview? Chances are they will often be late to work.
  • Parent/Spouse/Significant Other overly involved during the hiring process? They most likely will not go away once you make a hiring decision.
  • Disheveled appearance for the interview? Expect the same when they arrive for the job.

The list goes on.

Don’t ignore the red flags throughout the hiring process. If needed, address your concerns with the applicant to ensure you are not making biased assumptions.

In the end, it’s important that you know what you’re getting into before you hire an employee instead of relying on hindsight to alert you of a potential bad hire.

2. Set Clear Expectations

Think you shouldn’t have to tell your employees what to do because they are adults? Think again!

Yes, you shouldn’t have to micro-manage your employees or continuously repeat the same information. However, explaining expectations clearly, ensuring they understand the expectation, and providing feedback on their mastery of said expectations is required if you ever want them to do their job as YOU desire.

Every company and position is different. Every boss has different expectations. Even experts who have held and succeed in similar roles before need to know what it means to be successful within your company.

When you refuse to tell your employee what to do because they should know, you are never going to be happy with their performance. They cannot read your mind, and eventually, they will probably be seen as a bad hire.

Know what you expect from your employees and then set up a thorough process to train them.

3. Appreciate Them AND Let Them Know!

If you ever labeled someone as a bad hire because they seem not to value their work, the company, or the opportunity, I have a question for you. How did you show the worker that you appreciated them?

If you do not show appreciation for the worker, they are never going to feel like you value THEM. They are going to feel like just a body that is easily replaceable.

Giving an employee a paycheck or benefits and perks that would be available through any company for which they work is not a sign of appreciation.

Employees who turn out to be good hires feel appreciated. They feel valued as an individual, and they want the company to succeed. After all, they feel that if the company succeeds, they will succeed, too. They become a part of the success, and they feel responsible for driving the achievement.

4. Know Their Goals

Sometimes an employee starts to act like a bad hire simply because that employee does not see the company as a long-term fit. They don’t believe the company can meet their goals.

When a company cannot meet an employee’s goals or makes no effort to, that employee is not going to be happy.

While an employee’s future success does not fall 100% on your shoulders, you need to help them see how your company is an answer to what they are seeking.

The best way to prevent a new employee turning into a bad hire because they think your company is not the answer to their goals is to talk with the employee. You should know what every employee wants in six months, a year, five years, ten years, and more.

Once you know what an employee wants, you can easily weave those goals into communication, reviews, and assignment selection. It does not take much extra effort on your part, but it makes a big difference from the employee’s point-of-view.

5. Ensure the Job Description Matches the Job

Within small businesses, it’s common for employees to wear many hats. However, a frequent problem that leads to unhappy employees is that the small business will hire for one specific role but then expect the employee to do whatever is needed.

Before you hire an employee, it’s essential that you know what you expect from the employee. Then create an appropriate job description.

Do you need one person who can be your assistant, balance the books, and do social media marketing? Then specify that in the job description. Don’t surprise the employee once they are hired.

Yes, some job responsibilities will change as your company grows and evolves. When this does happen, you need to communicate any changes properly and lead the employees through change management.

Also, I’m not saying you cannot occasionally ask someone to help you with something that is outside their job description. When you do, saying something like “I know this is not a typical job function of yours, but I could use your help” goes a long way. 


A bad hire is often something that you create versus simply being the fault of the person you hire. If you are ready to learn more about how to avoid a bad hire and to manage your employees better, let’s discuss how we can work together. Schedule your free Hiring Jump-Start call today.

Five ways for How to Avoid a Bad Hire