The answer seems obvious. Don’t hire someone if you don’t feel right about the person. But what if the person you’re considering hiring is fully qualified and time is running out?
I recently dealt with this hiring issue in my own business. I needed a teacher for the afternoon shift. Classes were to begin in two weeks. I didn’t think I had another option. But I didn’t feel right about hiring this person. I’ll call him Tom.
The interview and evaluations with my senior teacher, Emilia, went fine, but we both had a negative gut feeling about Tom. Then I consulted my staff. They had similar negative feelings about hiring Tom, but it was only a gut feeling. They couldn’t tell me anything specific to convince me that hiring him was a bad idea. Tom’s teaching style seemed fine, and his background and qualifications were on par.
It came down to personality. Something wasn’t quite right. But we couldn’t nail it down. So I hired him.
Tom’s initial work
During the two weeks after hiring Tom, he helped us refine our teaching method. He also helped us with promotion. And I taught him how to close the deal when trying to enroll new students. Tom did well. So for a moment, I felt happy about hiring him.
After classes began, my staff and I paid close attention to Tom’s teaching. His personality was a little abrasive, but he maintained the attention of all of his students. He drove each lesson in until the entire class understood it. The students seemed satisfied and happy.
After two weeks of teaching though, Tom started having issues with some students. He had one issue with a parent who brought two teenagers to the class. The teenagers would interrupt the class and the parent would defend them.
Tom quickly brought this issue to my attention. I advised him on how to handle it. Then, my staff observed Tom’s next few classes to see if the issue continued.
Soon after Tom’s first issue, many students started dropping out. When we called them to follow up, most told us that they quit because of the teacher. Out of 20 students that quit, 15 told us it was because of Tom.
Now I felt bad about hiring him…
On the day I confronted Tom about this issue, I called him into my office. He was smiling and he seemed to be in a good mood. I told him that many of his students have dropped out. He responded saying he was anticipating this conversation. Then, I told him that most of them told us that they quit because of him. I mentioned that I wanted to work with him to resolve the issue.
Right after explaining everything to Tom, he stood up and told me that he quit. I quickly responded that I wasn’t firing him – that my intention was to discuss it and correct it. He looked me right in the eye and told me that I need to hire a teacher who actually likes students. WOW!
After THAT conversation, I asked Tom to please finish out the week, so we could find a replacement. His classes were about to begin in 90 minutes.
No luck. Tom walked out on me right then. Now I really felt bad about hiring him. I felt stupid.
My backup plan
Fortunately, I had a backup plan. A friend of mine told me he would teach for me if I ever needed him. So I called him right away. He came in just in time to go over the details about the classes before they began. That was a close call!
Hiring a substitute teacher
My friend wasn’t interested in teaching for me full time. And besides, I couldn’t afford him anyway. But his willingness to substitute teach for me while I sought another teacher was priceless. He saved my business. And we were able to get half of those who dropped out back when we told them that we replaced Tom.
What could I have done differently?
I felt that if I continued to seek another teacher instead of hiring Tom, I would have run out of time. I needed help with finalizing our teaching method. Also, I needed to fully orient the teacher about my business. Maybe I could have pushed out the start date by two weeks to give myself a little more time?
Having to depend on employees to carry out the responsibilities of your business is a very dynamic experience. How much should you depend on a person? And to mitigate the risk, how can you maintain a backup plan for each employee?
Replacing a key employee
It may be easy to replace cleaning staff, but not a manager, teacher or another type of professional. Hiring takes time to find the right person. And after hiring someone, it takes much time and effort to get them trained. Once they’re fully integrated and working independently in their job, they become very valuable to your business – they learn all of the idiosyncrasies of their job.
The current state of the job market also plays a role when hiring. How many qualified individuals are available for work? What is the median pay rate for the type of professional you are seeking? Hiring can be an arduous process!
What is your experience with employees who didn’t work out? Were there signs you may have missed or ignored in the beginning? I’d like to know what I could have done differently! 🙂
Thank you for reading:
Hiring – Do I Hire Someone When My Gut Says NO?
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