The Gardener’s Guide to Recruiting: How to know if you’ve made the wrong hire, and what to do about it.

Making a new hire is a bit like adding a plant to your garden—you have an opening, maybe it’s a new space, or maybe you’re replacing a plant that you moved because it needed more room to grow or it wasn’t thriving. Either way, you know you need to find a new plant that will work well in the space. The right choice will flourish in the environment and work in harmony with the existing plants. You go to the nursery and pick one out—it’s beautiful, your research says it ticks all the boxes—you get your new plant home and put it in the ground. Most of the time you’re set, maybe you make some small adjustments, but on the whole your garden flourishes. Sometimes you know within the first week that you’ve made a mistake.

Hiring new team members can be the same—everybody has done it: Someone comes into an interview and you immediately click…great sense of humor and charming…you want this person on your team…you make an offer and they accept! you’re thrilled! and then the person starts….

The unease can start as early as day one, when your new hire walks in the door and you have the uncanny feeling that the charming, polished candidate you hired sent their strange, awkward twin to work. Sometimes it takes a few weeks before you realize that your new hire’s skill-set isn’t up to the standard you were led to believe. Occasionally, your new hire is exactly as billed, but you realize you miscalculated the scope of the role to be filled—this frequently happens with early stage startups where the team has grown organically and just shifted to sourcing for outside hires.

The glow of a robust tenure with a successful company can sometimes distract from the reality that different people flourish in different organizations. Startups are usually flat and require a nimble response to change, but some people are better at negotiating a large company where there is clear specialization and a roadmap. The right candidate for a startup may have been the person with three moves in the last three years because they really thrive when challenged by pressure and change.

Most hiring mistakes are made through a lack of communication—your new hire may have had glowing references, but did you feel assured that they’d flourish in your environment? Knowing they have strong skills is great, but make sure they have the skills you need. Finding the right person takes time, and it can be easy to rush into hiring a candidate, but make sure you do your research on who they are and how they work best.

As soon as you suspect you’ve made the wrong hire, document so you have everything you need to back up your decision, whatever it may be. Make sure you reach out to your recruiter as soon as you suspect this hire isn’t right, don’t wait until your guarantee period is nearly up. We can get you a pipeline of great candidates so you’re poised to make an efficient transition without being rushed. The keys to making a great hire are research, knowing what you need, taking the time to do it right, and knowing when to make a change. If you plant a dahlia in the shade the only answer is to move it into the sun.

If you’re on the other side of the issue, check out our article: How to Deal When Your Job Turns into a Pumpkin.


Note: this article first appeared on LinkedIn here.

Avatar photo

Michaela Hansen

Michaela Hansen is a writer, and a recruiter with Searchlight Inc.