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Hiring the wrong person for the job

Published 26 November 2018

We all make mistakes from time to time and when employers do correcting it may not always be as straightforward as it seems.

There can be pressure to fill vacancies. When a candidate who impressed during the recruitment stage turns out not to be what was expected, it can have serious repercussions.

The new recruit may not fit in with the organisation’s culture, they may have a damaging impact on workplace morale or make mistakes which have financial repercussions for an organisation.  Hiring the wrong person can frustrate managers and be bad for business.

A study carried out last year by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation found that 40 per of all hires end up being bad ones (1) The report highlighted the following:

  • 85 per cent of HR decision-makers admit their organisation has made a bad hire, and a third (33 per cent) believe that these mistakes cost their business nothing.
  • a poor hire at mid-manager level with a salary of £42,000 can cost a business more than £132,000.
  • the hidden costs involved in bad recruitment include money wasted on training, lost productivity, and increased staff turnover.

When the wrong person is recruited recognising it and acting quickly and fairly to address the situation is essential.

Almost two in five businesses (39%) take just two weeks to discover that they have hired the wrong person, according to independent research commissioned by Robert Half, which quizzed 5,000 managers in 13 countries.(2) The study also revealed that one in seven (15%) employers realise they have made a mistake within a recruit’s first week on the job.

The reasons vary as to why employers get it wrong when it comes to hiring the best person for job. Such mistakes are said to happen because of a mismatch of skills, underqualified candidates and dishonest and misleading CVs.

A lot of focus, time and effort can be spent searching for the best candidate. In doing so it is important for employers to ensure they have good procedures in place for evaluating job applicants.

After realising that the wrong person actually got the job a business may want to persevere with the individual and invest in training, or look to terminate the employment contract as soon as possible. The latter may sound easy enough.

As many employers quickly realise when they have made a mistake, the temptation to dismiss the employee on the spot may be irresistible.

Be warned, because as ACAS point out it is a myth that employees can be sacked without notice or warning (3)

Without following due process a dismissal can be found to be unfair, or wrongful if it is in breach of contractual terms.

Employees are afforded basic rights from the start of their employment, including the right not to be dismissed on grounds that are classed as 'automatically unfair' (4)

New employees will usually have a probation period, which can be extended if necessary. Within that period reviews can take place and problems identified, discussed and addressed.

If this does not satisfactorily resolve any concerns the employee can be dismissed. Although they will not have the qualifying length of service for an unfair dismissal claim (5) it is still advisable for an employer to follow some degree of a reasonable procedure.

In following a fair procedure for probation dismissal (6) it will ensure that there is a paper trail setting out an employer’s motivation for terminating the employment contract if the decision is challenged.

An employee can be dismissed during the probation period without any process being followed, but there are risks associated with terminating without any warning or discussion.

Businesses go to great lengths to find and attract the right candidate, but the cost of making the wrong hire and wrong decision to correct it can be significant.



1. Hiring mistakes are costing UK businesses billions each year [Internet] The recruitment and Employment Confederation [cited 26th Nov 18] Available from:

2.Two in five businesses realise they’ve hired the wrong candidate within two weeks [Internet] Robert Half [cited 26th Nov 2018] Available from:

3. Myths of the work place [Internet] Acas [cited 26th Nov 18] Available from:

4.Employment tribunals – automatic unfair dismissal [Internet] Citizens Advice[cited Nov 18] Available from:

5.Dismissal:your rights [Internet] GOV.UK [cited Nov 18] Available from:

6.Can an employee be dismissed during their probationary period [Internet] Castle Associates [Cited Nov 18] Available from:


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For free employment law advice or if you are affected or want information and support by any of the issues in this article please give us a call. 0333 772 0611

A reputation built on success

For employment law advice or if you are affected or want information and support by any of the issues in this article please give us a call. 


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