One Bad Hire After Another

Lindsey Novak on

Q: I started a new business and had to hire several employees for varying jobs before I really knew what my all my needs would be. I knew I needed minimum wage employees, so I ran ads in my local area and I conducted the interviewing, which I didn't think was a big deal. I got a good response to the ads, so I know that was done correctly. I alone knew what I needed done and knew how to describe the various jobs. When I met with each applicant, I know I clearly described the job and made sure each person understood the duties, responsibilities and requirements. Some of the jobs required heavy lifting, so I informed all of each job's requirements.

When each person started, he or she seemed competent. Each worker was good in the beginning, but as a month or two went by, situations arose with each employee. The excuses were many. Suddenly, daycare became a problem and the employee (both moms and dads) would call and need time off without offering a set schedule as a resolution. Then there were sudden doctors appointments for themselves, their children and other family members, and health problems of their in-law problems, and court dates and having to go to the airport to pick up a visitor, repeated car accidents, and a list of other unforeseen events that destroyed their reliability. Then there were those I caught stealing -- money and petty cash included, inventory, office supplies and time. I even thought maybe one person was running her own business on her off-hours, but taking my office supplies home with her to run it.

And the problems didn't start until I started trusting them. Within three to six months, one after the other would leave with one-day's notice or no notice at all. When I called the missing employee, I got a dramatic story that after five to 10 minutes made me shout, "forget it" and hang up. I thought I was exact in everything I told them in the interviews, so I don't understand how I didn't see this behavior coming. I recognize bad people when I meet them. You need to warn people that when starting a business, hiring isn't easy. I don't know how I could be any more careful than I am.

A: Interviewing is far more than asking "yes" or "no" questions, having a friendly or authoritative conversation, and explaining instructions as if all the persons needs to know are the job details. There is also the "you" factor.

As a boss, personality makes a difference. Your mood and manner sets communication standards at work. If you're too casual, employees may not take your instructions seriously. If you're overly demanding or rough in your requests, your manner may drive employees away. Or you may be the visionary with little or no leadership skills. You may also lack insight and sensitivity for choosing the right people. To hire effectively, a person needs to be perceptive to see through a quagmire of various personalities, an ability you may not possess. Or, you may see the job as minimum wage, when in fact it's physically draining or grossly boring and one that many people find not worth their time.

Since you've has a series of bad hires, there is definitely a problem, but it's not clear whether it's your interviewing skills, the salary or hourly pay you've established for the jobs, your leadership and communication skills, or the breakdown of the job tasks apart from your abilities as a boss. It's easy to fix a lack of interviewing skills by contracting a human relations professional for future job interviews. You may also want to consult a business professional on the salaries or hourly pay assigned to each job. As you address each potential problem, the solutions may add to your front-end costs, but in the long run, you will save money with better employees, better skills, and better systems in place.


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