If you are a business owner or hiring manager and have never had a hiring horror story, consider yourself lucky.  There are many out there, however, that have made that hire they thought would be the best hire yet, only to find that it was the biggest mistake ever made.

Let’s be honest…hiring the right person is not an exact science.  You can run the gambit of different hiring tools: pre-screening candidates, in person interviews, assessment tests and background checks.  Until that person hits the floor of the company, often times the “true” individual does not come out.  Maybe they were a good interview.  Perhaps their assessment indicated they were a solid leader and carried management potential.  The employment verifications, reference checks and criminal searches all came back showing long term employments, solid references and a spot free record.

But then, the hiring horror story begins. If you’ve experienced one of these, know you are not alone!  Here are few examples of business leaders who made “that hire,” that turned out to be a hiring horror story.

“We have had a few ‘wall of shame’ candidates in our time but ‘Steve’ (not his real name) was the winner. Freshly discharged from the military he had spent the last two years in the sand with his brothers in arms. He had no office etiquette and certainly didn’t understand there are things that cannot be said in an office with women present. Technically he knew his stuff but his ability to communicate clearly and effectively was sorely lacking.

Among the stupid things he did: 

a) Sending e-mails to prospects stating, ‘I need you to buy this stuff cuz my boss is giving me grief’ is NOT an effective sales technique. 

b) In a full staff meeting (three women present) when the question was asked who could be ‘on call’, he stated, “Sure I’ll pop my cherry”.

c) The final straw was his showing a female temp worker a picture of five or six bikini-clad women’s rear-ends, referring to them as desert princesses.

After we fired him we found oodles and oodles of porn on his computer and many images of one actress in particular. Just a bad hire all around. The damage was short-term because we dumped him after three warnings. The impact was low and internal because of how we handled it. Unfortunately externally, there are probably several dozen prospects that will never become clients after this interaction with him. Impressions last.” – Lou Altman, Globafone

“Our company hired an employee to work from our Mumbai office. An ideal employee at the start – qualified from one of the best institutes in India, recommended by professors (she has just graduated) and performed well in the recruitment process.  Problems started after the 3rd month when performance issues led us to investigate into the employees conduct and behaviour. On speaking to other team members about her attitude it seems that the key area of interest was in the salaries of other people in the team. The same employee constantly complained about her tasks to others and created un-necessary issues about the things that she had to do.  Morale and motivation of everyone in the team suffered because of the negative attitude. The employee had to eventually be let go due to her attitude and non-performance on the job.

On inspecting her office systems after she finished, it surfaced that she had been downloading an extensive number of movies, food recipes and even music on her computer. She made several attempts to contact other employees to help her “recover important personal files” on the office computer. She was never permitted to access any office computer again.  All in all, an experience from hell and one that taught our company the important of even more stringent recruitment processes!” – Vivek Agarwal, CEO, Strand of Silk

“In 2009, we were growing so quickly that I decided to hire a COO to help me with the day-to-day operations of the company. She was a highly touted, former Starbucks executive who I thought would be able to take our company to the next level. In the summer of 09 I went to cooking school in Italy, taking 5 weeks off and when I came back I found that the COO I hired, who I thought was the right fit, wasn’t. It just 5 short weeks, she managed to turn people at the company against me, it felt like mutiny! When I came back I didn’t feel like I had a team and several weeks later, I realized just how big of a problem I had – a COO who didn’t believe in me or my vision – and she had convinced the team to follow her.

A couple months later, I realized just how much we had overspent on people and programs and that along with the impact of a recession we came close to bankrupting the company! I eventually had to let go of her and a few members of my leadership team which was a difficult decision but was the right thing to do. We dipped to a low of $75 million in revenue that year but have steadily grown ever since. This year, we’ll do $153 million.” – Brian Scudamore, Founder & CEO of 1-800-Got-Junk

As you can see, a hiring horror story is a real…and harmful…event in the life of a company!  You may feel like everything is lined up, but then that one bad hire can slip through and start adversely impacting your company.  When this happens, as long as your HR policies and procedures are in place and up to date, there should be no problem in getting out from under the bad hiring decision before it causes too much damage.

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