So You’ve Hired The Wrong Person…

Ben Gateley, CharlieHR’s COO & Co-Founder, on why hiring has never been a science, but part process and part emotion.

A broken system full of inexact expectations and long Latin words (Curriculum Vitae…). But when you actively anticipate the probability of getting it wrong, you can start to put plans in place to make it right.

Hiring might start with an interview, but it shouldn’t end there. Here’s how we test if we made the right decision, and what we do when we haven’t.

It’s right to be wrong

Bringing someone new into the team is always a risk. You’re juggling time pressures, team expectations, cultural and role requirements and internal deadlines. It’s no surprise that we often feel like the pressure is on. I try to remind myself that every time I miss the mark, there are always positive lessons to take away:

  • Failure is important. The more comfortable you and the team get with the potential of getting things wrong, the more valuable those experiences will be for everyone.
  • Failure stops you looking for “unicorns”. In our experience, you don’t usually find star hires through interviews. More often than not, they reveal themselves to you over time, because — let’s face it — sometimes our expectations of what we’re looking for are just not realistic.
  • Failure, and its potential, frees you up to make those slightly more risky hires that just might pay off (and often do!). You want your team to support you in making those decisions.

Give yourself time

Probation periods aren’t the sexiest thing in the world, but they are bloody important. They serve as an extended interview; an opportunity to see how an individual fits within the business. “Do they deliver what they need to?” and “do they fit culturally?” are two questions that are almost impossible to answer after only a few hours with a potential team member.

When thinking about probation periods, here’s what’s on our radar:

  • How long is too long? In our view, one month is too short, but six months is overkill. Neither creates a feeling of trust in the new team member. Three months tends to be just right.
  • Once you’ve got your period set, book in regular catch ups during that period with the team member to review their performance. Not passing your probation should never be a surprise.

Across the process, try not to work solo. Use others on your team to help you in reviewing and assessing the fit of the new team member. Hiring can be an emotional thing so it’s useful to share that burden with others.

Think slow BUT act fast

This is the part I hate. You’ve got someone in, but the doubts have started to surface. You’re investing time in their development, but for whatever reason it’s just not happening. This is typically where we get a little slow. We get stuck on “maybe”, and “maybe” is a dangerous place to be. If you’re doubting a new team member that early on, then the chances are they are not going to get it right in the long run. Particularly if the reason is culture- or attitude-related.

It’s important to give yourself and the team time to discuss and debate these decisions. You don’t want to rush them, but once you get to the point when you’re sure, act fast. Why?

  • It’s not fair to leave someone in a role you know they’re not going to have much longer. Give them the best chance of moving on to something they’re more suited to.
  • Moving people in and out of a team is never easy, so announcing it to the team and getting on with it ensures you’ll return to where you were faster.
  • The longer you stall, the longer you’re delaying the time you have to find a replacement and most likely the decision is taking up valuable headspace.


There really is no such thing as “failure” when it comes to hiring: it’s a journey where each encounter and experience helps broaden your view and understanding of how to pull together the right group of people for the business you’re part of. While it’s frustrating when a new hire doesn’t work out like you were hoping, I have never regretted a hiring decision I’ve made. Each and every single experience has helped tune my ability and for that I am grateful.

CharlieHR is the HR software for small businesses. Building a company is hard, running one shouldn’t be. Find out more here.

Neo Sepulveda

Neo Sepulveda

Software engineer at CharlieHR 💻. I like climbing things quite a bit 🐒.

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