How to deal with hiring remorse

hiring remorse

Warning: this scenario may sound all too familiar.

After searching for that needle-in-a-haystack, you place your bet on a candidate. You have high hopes on this new hire. As your new employee starts, however, you get a sinking feeling that this person may not be all that he or she promised.

Perhaps this new hire oversold their expertise. Or maybe, the personality fit just isn’t right – despite your best predictions. The likely prognosis? You are experiencing hiring remorse.  Like buyer’s remorse, you’re regretting your hiring decision.

The question is: do you stick with this person, or let go and move on? Forbes recently suggested sticking with a struggling new hire until he or she is able to handle the job (or until it’s clear they can’t hack it). While patience is indeed a virtue, I would disagree with this approach. If your instinct is telling you the new hire should go, listen to it.

If you’re still on the fence, here are a few points to consider:

Be wary of defending the decision

It’s hard not to get defensive about your decision to hire a new person, given how much time and resources are invested in the process. It’s human nature to rationalize the decision when we feel emotionally invested. Naturally, we’re tempted to protect our pride. Though it can be hard, it’s important here to separate emotion from a rational assessment.

Think about long-term repercussions

Does this mean more work for yourself or your team to cover for the new hire’s gaps? Consider time, productivity, resources, and potential lost revenue – factors that all have a direct impact on your organization. Moreover, once the new employee’s probation period is over, if termination is necessary, the process becomes much more cumbersome.

Don’t rush – but don’t delay either

Hiring decisions are not to be made too quickly, of course, as people’s livelihoods are at stake. But sometimes, making a decision at the onset can save a lot of heartache for both parties for the long-term. Your new hire is likely noticing, just as you are, that things are not working out. Coming to work every day with the fear of being let go contributes to a negative environment and can lead to the new hire making more mistakes. It can also mean that they’re not giving their full attention to the role as they search for a new opportunity.

Consider team impact

Ongoing overcompensation for one under-performing employee is inherently unfair to the rest of the team and this can create cracks in the foundation when it comes to team dynamics. It’s important to look at the health of the overall team and weigh that against the time and cost of keeping a new hire who’s not yet ready for the new role.

In the end, although the new employee may not recognize it, letting them go early may turn out to be best for them as well. Their contributions may not soar in your organization, but their strengths may be invaluable somewhere else. Sometimes, it’s just better to pull off the Band-Aid quickly.


Julie Labrie is the president of BlueSky Personnel Solutions, a recruitment agency that specializes in Bilingual/French placements. After a decade and a half of recruiting top talent, she is a veteran in her field. Julie works closely with both business and HR executives and job candidates, and offers insights into the strategies, nuances and psychology of the hiring process.

See also:
Hire right the first time: 3 mistakes to avoid
Eight interview mistakes hiring managers make


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