10 May 2023

The Impact of Making the Wrong Hiring Decision

Steve Halsall

Red Tiger Consulting


Let’s face it, recruitment is a bit of a lottery; no matter how robust the interview process is, you don’t really know how someone is going to truly perform until they are actually in the role. You can take very measured steps to ensure you ‘win’ at recruitment, but the process is never 100% guaranteed to work. For more tips on how to streamline your interview process and increase your ‘win’ rate, please check out our How To Guide on the topic.

Making the Wrong Hiring Decision

It is inevitable that, as a recruiter or hiring manager, the wrong hire is sometimes made. Its the law of averages. It hasn’t happened very much in the history of Red Tiger Talent as the chart below shows. In our c7 years of operation we are averaging one wrong hire every 1.4 years. In theory, the more hires we place the more likely we are to have failure. This isn’t actually the case; for example, last year we placed 32 candidates and our ‘fail’ percentage was 3%. In 2018-2019 we had a relatively small number of hires (10) and this one ‘fail’ explains the abnormally high 10% fail percent.

red tiger talent fail percent wrong hiring decision
Red Tiger Talent ‘Fail’ Percent

We obviously prefer the ‘fail’ percentage of the years of 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2019-20 where no-one left within their probation period. It is very easy to ‘blame’ the recruitment firm for the poor hire. The reality is we feel it anyway without the client blaming us, but it is also worth describing our part in the process. The role of a recruiter is really simple: to deliver qualified, interested candidates to the client that match their requirements in terms of skills, experience, and salary expectation. The role of a hiring manager is to take our qualified candidates and assess them in the way they see fit in order to make a decision.

At Red Tiger Talent we invest a lot of time in getting to know our candidates and we pride ourselves in taking a long-term view on putting people forward. We have refrained from putting candidates forward for a variety of reasons. We have also been asked to give a balanced view on a number of suitable candidates, answering tricky questions such as “which candidate would you take on if you were the hiring manager?” The quote below from a recent placement sums things up from our perspective:

This post will now explore some of the reasons why people don’t work out and what to do if it isn’t working out.

depeche mode lyrics to wrong - impact of making the wrong hiring decision
Depeche Mode, lyrics to “Wrong

Wrong Hiring Decision Scenarios & What to do About it

There are a small number of reasons why people don’t tend to stay beyond their probation period, which can be summarised in the following scenarios

Candidate: “The role didn’t turn out how I expected it to be”

  • From a candidate’s perspective it is critical to ask probing questions and ensure that the job spec is reflective of the hiring manager’s view of the role.
  • From a hiring manager’s perspective it’s also about being clear (and honest) with the candidate about the role and the responsibilities that come with the role.

Candidate: “The role has changed since I’ve been there”

  • Businesses do change, restructures happen, and this can have a destabilising effect on individuals and teams.
  • From a candidate’s perspective they could potentially benefit from some coaching. Uncertainty, brought on by change, can be very debilitating, but coaching may help explore thinking about the opportunities (and threats) with a restructure.
  • From a hiring manager’s perspective it’s about being honest about the opportunity. Inevitably, some will be happy with the challenge and others may prefer to move on.

Candidate: “I took the role as it was the only offer on the table and subsequently my dream role came up which was too good to turn down”

  • From a candidate’s perspective I can understand how they have to find work, but I certainly wouldn’t encourage making a habit of starting a role and then accepting another role after starting. It is fairly rare but it does happen sometimes.
  • From a hiring manager’s perspective it is a challenge to be aware of these inbound opportunities. Developing a trusted relationship where the individual feels comfortable about having a confidential conversation with you prior to handing in their notice could be useful.

Hiring Manager: “The candidate interviewed well but it became apparent after a month or so that they really weren’t suitable for the role”

  • From a candidate’s perspective it is unusual for them to not be aware that they are struggling to meet expectation (unless they have ostrich tendencies). The candidate may be feeling pretty lost or unmotivated and may already have started looking for an alternative role.
  • From a hiring manager’s perspective you have to make a judgement as to whether the situation can resolve with patience and time, or actually if it’s best all round if you reach a severance agreement.

Hiring Manager: “Something wasn’t quite right with the candidate but I ignored my instinct as I needed to fill the role”

  • From a candidate’s perspective they will not usually be aware of the hiring manager’s concerns.
  • From a hiring manager’s perspective my advice is to try to avoid taking on just for the sake of it and go with your gut instinct. Often problem hires can be counter-productive; you may need head count but they require much more management time.

Reflect and Move on

What should you do once you or your new hire have instigated a parting of ways? For me it is about reflecting on what hasn’t worked and feeding that into the recruitment process to try and avoid making the same mistake again.

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Published by Steve Halsall

Steve is the founder of Red Tiger Consulting. He has worked in Location Planning for over 20 years – both on the consultancy side and client side. His passion is building successful teams that evolve their capability (skills, software and data) to meet the ever changing requirements of analysis. In his spare time he is mainly kept busy with his two children, falling in and out of love with Liverpool FC and at some point he wants to re-start his golfing ‘career’.


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