7 Reasons Why Your Last Hire Failed

Andy Agouridis Talent acquisition

Hiring the right people is more than just filling a vacancy—it's about ensuring your organization's sustained growth and success. But even the most seasoned recruitment leaders can occasionally stumble, wondering where things went off track with a promising candidate. In this article, we'll dive deep into the nuances of what might have caused that recent hire to fall short of expectations. Beyond pointing out these often-overlooked issues, we will also provide actionable insights to help you transform those past missteps into future success stories.

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Consequences of Failed Hires

Every recruitment leader understands the far-reaching consequences of a failed hire. With costs that can reach up to 30% of a new hire’s first-year earnings or even exceed $240,000 in some estimates, the financial burden is evident. However, it's not just the tangible cost of recruiting, training, and potential severance but also the aftershock on team dynamics, productivity, and overall morale. When a new recruit doesn't fit, it's like trying to force a square peg into a round hole. The mismatch can disrupt the harmony of the entire team.

But there's more. Your company's reputation, both internally and in the broader market, can take a hit. Word travels fast, and a pattern of poor hiring decisions might make top talents think twice before joining. Remember, a solid team isn't just about skill sets—it's about synergy. Neglecting to address these hiring mistakes can create a vicious cycle that ultimately hampers your company's long-term success.

7 Common Reasons for Hiring Failures

Here are seven common roadblocks that could be throwing your recruitment process off course. Understanding these pitfalls not only helps you avoid future hiring misfires but also empowers you to make more informed, effective decisions. Let's dive in and set the course right.

1. Your communication is falling short

One prevalent reason why new hires don't work out is subpar communication throughout the hiring process. Candidates may misunderstand job expectations, and interviewers might misinterpret candidates' skills or intentions. It's like missing pieces in a puzzle—you can't see the complete picture.

Effective communication is the backbone of a successful recruitment process. Each interaction should be crystal clear, from the initial job posting to the final onboarding session. Miscommunications can lead to a bad fit and result in candidates feeling disengaged or even alienated during their early days at the company. To ensure clarity at every stage, consider following these pragmatic steps:

  • Make sure your job listings are straightforward and accurately reflect the role's duties and requirements. Use language that leaves no room for ambiguity.
  • Stick to a consistent set of questions and topics for every candidate. This ensures everyone is on the same page and allows easier comparisons between applicants.
  • Keep open channels for feedback both internally among the recruitment team and externally with candidates. This could be as simple as sending a brief survey after the interview process.
  • Provide a detailed orientation schedule to new hires, outlining their first few weeks on the job. This sets expectations and minimises uncertainty.

2. Your interview techniques could be failing you

Oftentimes, hiring failures can be traced back to the interview itself. While it's a chance to get to know a candidate, outdated or ineffective techniques can lead to wrong decisions. What seemed like a promising match during the interview might later reveal itself as a misjudgment—particularly if decisions are made primarily based on gut feeling or personal affinity.

Structured interviews are a game-changer in the recruitment landscape. Following a consistent framework can ensure every candidate is evaluated fairly and objectively. This method not only boosts the reliability of your assessments but also minimizes bias, making sure you hire based on qualifications and fit, not fleeting impressions. Here are some tried-and-true tactics you can consider to bolster your interviewing game and dodge those hiring landmines:

  • Behavioral Interviews. Instead of asking generic questions, focus on situations a candidate has faced in the past. Their actions and decisions can provide insights into how they might handle similar scenarios in the future.

  • Role-specific Tasks. Assign tasks or tests that directly relate to the job's responsibilities. This will give you a clear picture of the candidate's proficiency and problem-solving skills.

  • Panel Interviews. Engaging multiple interviewers ensures a diverse perspective. Different team members can spot different strengths and red flags, leading to a more balanced assessment.

  • Open-ended Questions. Encourage candidates to share their stories and experiences. Not only will you learn about their capabilities, but you'll also get a glimpse of their personality and values.

3. Your skills assessments aren't cutting it

You've probably been there—a candidate who looks perfect on paper and even impresses during the interview but falls flat when it comes to executing the actual tasks. A key reason? The skills assessments used during the hiring process might not be providing a complete or accurate picture of the candidate's capabilities.

To ensure your evaluations truly reflect the abilities your organization needs, consider these actionable strategies:

  • Real-world Simulations. Instead of relying solely on traditional tests, incorporate tasks that mirror day-to-day job responsibilities. This gives a hands-on feel of how a candidate would fare in actual job scenarios.

  • Continuous Evaluation. Skills aren't static, they evolve. Regularly update and fine-tune your assessments to align with industry advancements and the specific needs of your business.

  • Third-party Tools. Consider leveraging reputable external platforms or services that offer skills assessments, like Jobylon. Their expertise can provide a more nuanced and in-depth evaluation, saving you the time and resources of developing these tools in-house.

  • Feedback Loop. After the assessment, provide candidates with constructive feedback, even if they aren't chosen. Their responses can offer insights to refine and improve future assessments.

4. Your company culture isn't matching up with new hires

When you're assessing fit, you can't overlook the importance of company culture. Sometimes, the reason a new hire doesn't pan out is as simple as a culture clash. Even a candidate with top-tier skills and experience can struggle to adapt to a work environment that doesn't align with their values or work style. According to Work Institute’s retention report, 41% of employees leave their company due to culture mismatch.

To ensure your organizational culture and the talent you attract are in sync, here's a breakdown of actionable steps:

  • Before seeking out talent, ensure your company's mission, vision, and values are unmistakably clear and well-documented.
  • Alongside skill assessments, add questions that gauge alignment with company culture during interviews. Get to know their values and aspirations.
  • Be candid about your work environment, team dynamics, and what's expected in terms of cultural contribution.
  • Share stories or testimonials from current employees that highlight the unique aspects of your company culture.
  • Once a new hire is on board, regular check-ins can help understand how they're meshing with the company's culture.

Making sure your culture and new hires sync up can be the difference between a short stint and a long, productive tenure. After all, you want to build a team that's not just proficient at what they do, but also loves how they do it.

5. Your onboarding and training process needs improvement

If your newest employees are struggling in the dark, unsure of their roles or how to navigate the company landscape, you're setting them up for a swift exit. According to Forbes, companies lose 17% of new hires during the first three months of work, and 20% of all staff turnover happens within the first 45 days of employment due to a lack of effective onboarding. It's not just about welcoming new hires—it's about equipping them with the tools they need to excel from day one.

You don't have to revamp your entire program overnight, but a few strategic adjustments can make a world of difference. Here are a few that you can consider:

  • Streamline the onboarding process to ensure it's a comprehensive but digestible introduction to your company and the role.
  • Implement a mentorship program where new hires can connect with seasoned employees to navigate the initial weeks.
  • Tailor training programs to include both general company procedures and role-specific tasks. 
  • Set up periodic checkpoints during the first few months to assess how the new hire is adapting and to provide constructive feedback.

Making these changes to your onboarding and training procedures can be the deciding factor in whether your new hire stays engaged and productive or joins the troubling statistics of failed hires. A well-executed onboarding experience not only retains talent but also paves the way for their future contributions to your team's success.

6. You're rushing through the hiring process

In recruitment, the saying "haste makes waste" often hits the mark. When the pressure is on to fill a role quickly, it's easy to expedite the hiring process. However rushing can lead to shortcuts, and shortcuts often result in poor hiring choices. It's like trying to bake a cake in half the time—you might end up with something, but it's not what you hoped for.

To maintain the pace without sacrificing quality, ensure you have a structured recruitment pipeline that allows for swift yet informed decision-making. Consider leveraging technology like Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that can quickly screen resumes based on preset criteria, leaving you more time for in-depth evaluation of shortlisted candidates. If time is truly of the essence, focus on roles that are pivotal for operations and could cost more in the long run if left vacant.

Our bottom line? Quick doesn't have to mean careless. With some strategic planning and the right tools, you can expedite the hiring process without jeopardizing the quality of your hires. Remember, a well-considered hire saves you not just time but also the extensive costs and headaches of a failed one.

7. You're putting too much focus on qualifications

It's all too easy to be swayed by impressive resumes filled with advanced degrees and a long list of certifications. However, over-relying on these qualifications can be a hidden pitfall in your recruitment strategy. Keep in mind that a candidate can have all the technical knowledge in the world but still not be the right fit for your team.

Credentials don't tell the whole story. Soft skills like communication, adaptability, and problem-solving are just as vital. Moreover, someone who fits well with your company culture can often bring more to the table than a candidate who checks off every technical requirement but can't adapt to your work environment.

Diversifying your assessment criteria to include these often-overlooked factors can be a game-changer. So the next time you're wowed by a resume, remember that it's just one piece of the puzzle. Focus on creating a balanced view of each candidate—your team's cohesion and your company's future success could very well depend on it.


In recruitment, even the best-laid plans can occasionally go awry, leading to failed hires. But remember, every hiccup is a chance to learn and fine-tune your recruitment strategy. Use these insights not as a reflection of past errors, but as stepping stones to better, more informed decisions. Keep it simple, stay connected, and always be ready to adapt. Because, in the end, it's not just about hiring but also about building a team that fuels your organisation's long-term success.

Do you want to improve your hiring efficiency and employee retention? Take a look at our recruitment platform! You can book a free demo to have the full experience of the tool and ask questions you might have.

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Andy Agouridis

Andy helps candidates and employers connect faster and better. Apart from being a Jobylon contributing writer and a Careers content creator. He has a background in HR with Fortune 100 businesses, holds an MSc in HRM, and is a Chartered member of the CIPD.

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