Q: I recently hired someone who seemed to be well-qualified, but now that he’s been in his job a short time, it seems that his skill set doesn’t match his claims.
Q: I recently hired someone who seemed to be well-qualified, but now that he’s been in his job a short time, it seems that his skill set doesn’t match his claims. Moreover, I am questioning whether he was truthful about his credentials, past pay, etc. What should I do?
A: Hiring decisions are among the most challenging and consequential that a manager makes. If you determine you’ve made a mistake, you can either try to work with the person or move them on. The key is to move quickly.
Being able to do the job is one key. Since he entered without the expected skill level, take a moment to assess the gap. If he has some skills but isn’t as advanced as you expected, perhaps you had a misunderstanding while interviewing. In that case, maybe it’s worth it to train him. But just maybe. If he’s at a rudimentary level and doesn’t even know where to start, you’ll have to decide if you can accept a brand-new trainee for this position.
Trust is the other key and is even more important. If you find he misrepresented his capabilities and past experience when you interviewed him, then how can you fully trust him to represent your company and serve your customers with integrity?
Reflect back on the interview process. Are your questions focused and unambiguous? Do you probe for deep responses rather than easy answers? Are you sufficiently clear about your expectations for the position and the actual tasks that will be part of the role? If the answer to any of these is “no,” it again raises the possibility that there has been a mismatch. You still may need to part ways, but on better, more mutual terms.
The possibility that he intentionally misled you is more concerning. If that’s true, consider the message it sends if you keep him. And, for some roles, the liability it could open for you if the customer experience falls short. In that case, I’d ask you, why would you keep him on?
That’s where speed comes in. If you have a probationary period, you can easily dismiss him. Or, if you have proof that he was dishonest, the barrier is low. If you have concerns, check on any HR, civil service, or union documentation and processes you may need to follow.
Often the greater barrier is your internal anxiety. If you fire him, you’re going to have to have a hard conversation. If you haven’t done it before, it’ll serve you well to carefully plan what you’ll say and how you’ll handle various possible reactions. Get someone with more experience to help mentor you.
And then look toward the future and assess your interviewing process. Apart from the interview conversations, how strong is the rest of the process? Make sure you’ve got solid background and reference checks in place.
Look out for the overall best interests of your company, customers, and other employees; this will help guide your next steps.
Submit questions to Liz Reyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.