When it’s apparent the person you just hired is simply the wrong fit, follow these steps to quickly remedy the situation.

Like it or not, you’re eventually going to make a bad hire. Even if you do everything right in the hiring process, you’ll find that it still doesn’t work out perfectly. So, instead of beating yourself up about it, find a way to gracefully undo the mistake.

You’ll usually know something’s wrong in the first 90 days. The new person will be late completing projects, won’t have the skills you might have thought or won’t seem to be putting in a lot of effort. But most of the time you’ll find that the person just isn’t the right fit. They don’t really get along with—or “get”—the team. It’s less what they do than how they do it.

The longer you keep the wrong person on, the worse the mistake becomes. Problems compound as the recruit’s performance puts more demands on the people around them and they start getting dragged down too.

Here are a few guidelines for extracting yourself—and your new recruit—from a mistaken hire:

1. Most often it’s not them, it’s you: The most important thing to remember when you’re preparing to let a new hire go is that you made the mistake, not them. You or your team probably should’ve caught the issue during the interview and reference-checking process. Or perhaps you made mistakes onboarding. In any case, don’t take your mistake out on the new hire. You made the call; now you have to unmake it.

2. Do it fast: It’s no fun realizing you made a hiring error and that it’s up to you to deal with it. But once you know, you have to take action. If you let the error sit untouched long enough, it can grow into a full-blown personnel disaster. Bad mojo from the hire can spread like a disease. If things get bad enough, other team members can threaten to quit or projects can get derailed.

This isn’t a regular firing situation where you’ve tried to help a longer-term employee get back on track with feedback and coaching. This also isn’t about deciding that the person can no longer keep up with a job they were once well suited for.

This is a new hire, and because they are not yet a functional part of your organization, you’re doing both them and yourself a favor if you take care of the problem before it goes too far.

3. Be human about it: Remember that the new hire is about to lose a job they just got and may well be upset and embarrassed. Be gracious and gentle. Remind the person that, sometimes, good people are simply not the right fit for certain jobs, even if they’re talented and hardworking. Let your recruit know that they will be better able to thrive in a job and environment that’s more suitable.

4. Help with the transition: If this was your mistake, you should make sure the person has a soft landing upon leaving the position. If you can’t find a job inside your organization, help find one outside, whether it’s by offering to be a reference, arranging for introductions, or brainstorming ideas. If possible, try to give enough severance to buy the person time to find a new job. And when it comes time to make the announcement, help craft a true but kind public reason for why they’re moving on so quickly.

5. Offer parting feedback: If you simply show people the door without giving them any insight into the reasoning, they may not be better off at their next job. There are certain liability issues you need to be careful about when discussing performance, but if the person is open to it, you ought to be able to find a way to offer constructive feedback on how they can improve.

Many people will want to hear how they can grow and do better, and opportunities for that kind of information are relatively rare. By the same token, you might also ask the person if they noticed any ways you or your organization can improve. It takes two to make a poor fit, and perhaps there’s something you can do better in the future.

You’ll never have a perfect batting average with hiring, but if you ignore your own mistakes and hope they go away, you’ll be doing a major disservice both to your organization and to the person you hired. Put yourself in their shoes. If your new boss was certain you weren’t the right person for the job, would you rather that they tell you or that they pretend everything was okay? It’s always best to face mistakes squarely, do our best to address them, and move forward.

Charisse Toale, MBA, ABO/NCLE, is president and senior recruiter of imatters eyecare staffing, a network of over 150,000 active and passive eyecare professionals with solutions for every budget and hiring need. Visit, your go-to resource for hiring ECPs.

Sometimes the shoe is on the other foot and the new hire can avoid not fitting in by avoiding companies that raise the following four red flags on the day of the interview . . . even before being hired.1. Morale is low among your future colleagues: While your interviewer is typically going to be the decision maker, it’s crucial to meet the other staff working there. Ask for an opportunity to meet the people who work there and be very suspicious if your future employer is trying to “hide” them from you or prevent you from talking to any of the staff. Getting a good sense of the atmosphere and collegiality among them will give you insight into your future job happiness.

2. A high turnover among staff: Employees don’t just up and leave when they have a good opportunity. If there is high turnover at an organization, it is perhaps one of the biggest red flags available. This is even worse if it is occurring across different departments and could speak volumes about a toxic environment in the company.

3. You get a bad impression from the interviewer: When you sit down face-to-face with your interviewer, does that person strike you as a good communicator and a reasonably pleasant person, or is it obvious that they are somewhat lacking in that area? A poor interviewer can be a telling sign of poor management skills in the future.

4. Your interviewer is hesitant or reluctant to answer questions about the opportunity: During your interview, your interviewer should open up the conversation to any questions you might have about the company or the position in general. Avoidance or complete reluctance to give you the opportunity to ask your own interview questions is a red flag and indicates that your future employer is either hiding something or knows about as much about the career as you do.


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