How Long Does It Take to Know (if a new employee will make it)?

“I’m just not good at this,” Janice explained. “Over the past two years, I have hired seven people on my team. You would think I would get better at picking people, but this last hire is just another example of my inability to figure someone out in the interview process.”

“What is it that you are trying to figure out?” I asked.

“Whether this candidate would be any good for the job,” she replied. “I don’t have a lot of time to train and coach, though that seems to be what I do most of, when I am not engaged in damage control.”

“Damage control?”

“New recruits always screw up. And most of the time, they screw up in front of the customer. Damage control. Then, train and coach. At some point, I figure out, the new recruit is just not suited to the position. I get frustrated, and they either quit or I have to let them go.”

“How long does it take to figure that out?”

“Sometimes, it’s quick, a couple of weeks, but, as a matter of policy, we normally give a new hire the benefit of the doubt during a ninety day probation period,” she sighed.

“In what way could you have a high confidence level in the candidate’s success on the first day they show up?”

2 thoughts on “How Long Does It Take to Know (if a new employee will make it)?

  1. Rolando Ramirez

    By asking more job specific scenario questions during the interview process that relate directly to customer service, problem resolution, the reasoning ability of the candidate through new tasks, and their current knowledge of support staff and the chain of command, an interviewer can get a feel for each interviewees strengthens and weaknesses in important on the job duty areas. General strength and weakness questions do not reveal the same information from the job candidate as specific scenario questions do.

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  2. Dawn Kennedy

    I think the issue is not that you lack the skills of discernment but you lack time. One thing that jumped out at me was your statement “. “I don’t have a lot of time to train and coach, though that seems to be what I do most of, when I am not engaged in damage control.” I too used to have this problem years ago and solved it.

    Its process. Before your next hire, clearly define everything that employee needs to know and what behaviors you expect on the job. I found that creating a knowledge base that the employee can self-serve is the most important. Invest in a training program upfront. New employees should be given time to study this knowledge base as part of their duties. I am not sure what your industry is but my new employees spent a full week learning the job before they interacted with any of our clients. They also were given a schedule each day to spend time with each functional department manager (1/2 day) shadowing and asking questions. These other managers helped in freeing up a 1/2 day to focus on what I needed to do for the day, and the new employee was able to gather a holistic integrated view of the organization. My managers were able to give me insight fairly quickly on skill sets and behaviors of the new hire.

    As to your other question, I do not believe I have ever given a new hire 90 days- why prolong the agony and waste company dollars? You also are not doing the new hire any favors by prolonging a failure. Typically, negative work behaviors show up fairly quickly (in the first two weeks) but not always. Skill set verification can take up to 30 days.

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