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Welcome back to the ESS blog! We help business owners and hiring professionals better understand the world of healthy hiring practices through the use of employment screening and drug testing. The last few years have shifted the ways that employers can drug test, and with marijuana becoming more prevalent across the country it’s important to recognize other ways to identify if you may have made the wrong hire. The old saying goes “Hire slow, fire fast.” 

Hiring the wrong individual can significantly set you back. For starters, they could hurt your, or your company’s reputation. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Financially, making a mistake when hiring could end up costing you up to 30% or more of their expected first-year earnings. Check out this quick calculator to better understand HOW…

Even with proper screening and good hiring practices, you may find yourself working with an individual who somehow slips through the cracks and just isn’t the right fit. Here are a few signs that may be the case.

  1. Late.
  2. Bad / Questionable Attitude
  3. Lack of Expected Skills
  4. Repetitive Questioning without Execution
  5. Complaining & Negativity
  6. Arrogance / Cockiness
  7. Fails to Learn
  8. Refers to Previous Job/Employer Often
  9. Can’t Evolve
  10. Stepping On/Distracting Others’ Work


Being new to the area or working our the kinks on a new commute is understandable. An employee that is new, especially in a larger company, may struggle to integrate to the new system. If they’re still late after the first few days, or they’re demonstrating that they just don’t care that they’re late, it may be a red flag. This could be a sign they aren’t very reliable and may end up quitting anyways.

Bad / Questionable Attitude

Typically a new hire will be eager to get started and walk in with a smile and a fresh attitude. Many things can be fixed with training and experience, but not attitude. A new employee is a great source for understanding how you can improve, but if they walk in complaining about their role or being negative about the job in any way is a major red flag. 

Some signs of a bad attitude include getting irritable easily, making negative comments about other employees or the role, or swearing often in the workplace. 

Lack of Expected Skills

Throughout the hiring process, you’ve probably requested and received understanding from the candidate that they have the skill set you’re looking for. When you make the decision to hire them, it’s based on a mutual understanding they possess the skills you need. Sometimes people lie. 

As soon as you suspect a new hire may have exaggerated their qualifications, ask them again about their previous roles and check back with their references. 

Repetitive Questioning without Execution

Obviously asking questions is not a bad thing. You want a new hire to practice an inquisitive mindset and seek to understand. There is a point where a lack of execution based on the provided answers to those questions when we start entering red flag territory. 

If you see the employee seems to have “failure to launch,” provide them with support and encouragement, but if you see they are lacking productivity and using questions as an excuse… You may want to look elsewhere.

Read More: Changes and Challenges for Hiring Professionals in 2023

Repetitive Complaining 

If you find yourself immediately defending why you do things the way you do them, or having to answer questions that don’t make you feel confident in the person’s ability, move on. Toxic behavior is contagious, and this new hire providing so much negative energy could certainly spread around the office. 

Any new employee should provide creative solutions and new ideas rather than negating everything they can.

Arrogance / Cockiness

We want confidence from a new employee! We don’t want someone who thinks they are better than everyone else. You may have seen some signs of arrogance in your interview, so be quick to sniff that out. If you find the new employee is speaking from a place they haven’t been, or speaking with confidence they have yet to earn, don’t be afraid to speak with them regarding their behavior, and ask them if this truly is the right place for them.

Fails to Learn from Mistakes

When starting a new job, anyone is bound to make a mistake here or there. What differentiates a good employee from a bad employee is the ability to learn from those mistakes. If you see a new employee making the same mistake repetitively, ignoring feedback, or giving pushback to whether or not it was a mistake, you may need to look elsewhere.

Refers to Old Job/Employer Often

It can be assumed that previous job experience was one factor that helped this employee get the role in the first place. There may be learned skills that they achieved at a previous employer, and that’s great and all, but they aren’t there anymore. If you find your new employee constantly comparing what you’re doing to what they did at their old job, or for their old boss, it may be an issue. 

They may not have moved on, and they may not be the right fit. 

Can’t Evolve

From the way you operate to the way you communicate, your new employee will be forced to change in some way or the other. If you’re finding pushback or skepticism behind the new employees attitude when seeking to see a change from them, this could be a red flag. Nobody wants to work with someone who can’t grow, and if your employee can’t grow, your team can’t either.

Stepping on / Distracting Others’ Work

Ideally your new employee will lean into working with new people and flourish within their new work environment. As business owners we like to see when a new employee volunteers to take on someone else’s work, or provide a new solution, but not if it’s substituting their productivity for what they were hired to do. If you find a new employee is constantly distracting others’ or preventing them from doing their job, this could be a bad sign. This is disrespectful to the team and the company, and if the individual disagrees, then it may be time to move on. 

There you have it! 10 signs that you may not have made the best hire. Of course, properly checking the background of the individual and cross referencing education and employment verification will help prevent this from happening. If you or someone you know wants to talk about how you could be making better hiring decisions, don’t be afraid to reach out by phone or via our contact form!