What FRIENDS teaches us about the cost of a bad hire

Think of Friends as an office with the cast as the employees. Every member on that team holds their own and makes the show the colossal success it is. No one is a deadweight pulling the others down. In fact, each member adds a unique value to the combined total. Friends wouldn’t be Friends if even one actor was replaced. Heck, you can’t even make the actors switch roles without entirely messing up the chemistry. Ergo, choosing the right person for the right role could be the difference between success and failure

It’s the secret sauce that many employers don’t take into consideration when hiring job seekers. Just like there are no “Get Out of Jail Free” cards in life, hiring someone that’s not a good fit for your company could end up being a costly mistake in more ways than one. Without further ado, here are the top six hardships you can potentially face :


  • A bad hire can be costly

A company sustains itself on the numbers it generates in terms of revenue. Regardless of  the cause or issue it aligns with, at the end of the day, if the bottom line is healthy, the company survives. A bad hire threatens that dynamic, either by causing a dip in performance, causing productive employees to leave or by diverting resources away. Consequently creating a loss of time and money, both which are invaluable for a company.

  • A bad hire can negatively impact performance

A smooth functioning workforce is like a well-oiled machine, where efficiency is hard to pin down to one part. This is because all parts play an equal role in the final product. Every member is essential.  This becomes evident once a bad hire is introduced into the mix. 

When someone who isn’t a good fit – either due to their expertise or their personality – is brought onboard, it throws a spanner into the works. Suddenly you have one person who isn’t pulling their weight in the team. Which then leads to others having to take up greater responsibility to make up for the deficiency. This leads to a dip in productivity and subsequent burnout as work piles up on other team members.

  • A bad hire damages morale

Every office has a vibe and an atmosphere that is built upon the collective morale of the employees. It’s one of the most crucial intangible assets of a company that affects performance and harmony. Disrupting that mojo can have serious repercussions.

A bad hire that doesn’t gel with the rest of the workforce can be devastating for a company. Whether it be through their attitude or work ethic, the sooner the ‘rotten apple’ is removed from the barrel, the better it is for the company. Failure to do so can lead to a negative work environment. Furthermore, if workers lose faith in their employers to address red flags, it affects morale and can lead to a number of outcomes. One of the most common being employee turnover.

  •   A bad hire drains resources

When you hire someone, who isn’t pulling their weight, there will be an adjustment period during which the company will bring them up to the expected level. Normally, this would entail extra hours of coaching, training, and guidance, all things which lead to a heavy drain on the company’s time and resources.  By diverting energy, time, and resources, a bad hire negatively impacts company revenue. With managers having to dedicate time to the development of a bad hire, they have to cut into their productivity which hampers the upward trajectory of the company’s performance.

  • A bad hire damages reputation 

We live in an age of unsurpassed visibility. Nothing is hidden from the consumer who wants to know everything about the company they do business with. In such a scenario, image is everything. Companies go to great lengths to build their reputation by deciding what issues, products, and culture they align with. A bad hire can jeopardize the image of the company by creating a negative impression in the minds of first-time clients. It can lead to a domino effect as the company’s reputation will be at stake through negative word-of-mouth reviews of toxic company culture, high turnover rate, and shoddy customer service. All it takes is one bad review on a job site to lead a company down a slippery slope of adverse impressions and irrevocably damaged reputations.

 Internally, a bad hire can throw a spanner in the works of a company by demoralizing other employees and leading to high turnovers. This can end up hurting the company in the long run as future employees will debate working for a company that tolerates negative behavior.

  • A bad hire increases costs

In today’s competitive job market, hiring has turned into an expensive investment. Although there is no dearth of skills available in the employee pool, picking the right fit for your company can be a huge gamble due to the costs associated with it. These start from the recruitment and advertising process and go all the way up to employee training and onboarding. A bad hire throws the whole process into a vicious cycle that ultimately balloons up the company costs.


Let’s admit it, every company will sooner or later make a bad hire. According to market estimates, the cost of a bad hire ranges from 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings to $240,000. That’s why when making a hire, a prudent company will try to cover as many bases as possible in order to ensure that whomever they hire is as close a fit to their culture and values as possible.  Although there isn’t a set rulebook, some basic guidelines to follow when recruiting a new hire are:

a)  Trust your instinct

First impressions can be misleading. However, if there are red flags popping up in your first meeting with the candidate, it’s never a good sign. The initial interview should be structured in a way that allows the beliefs and values of the candidate to shine through. If they don’t align with the company’s values and culture, it’s better to cut your losses and move on. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, especially if you have an urgent role to fill that makes you ignore some of the early warning signs. But in the long run, it will save you a lot of headache and expenditure.

b)  Check up on the references

Going by one’s instincts might not be a failsafe approach yet it can be secured through extra scrutiny. Before finalizing a new hire, it’s always wise to cross check their references as they might be able to shed light on some areas that weren’t covered during the interview. The end result is a clearer picture of the person who will become a part of your company. It will help you decide if he/she is someone you can envision working for you.

c)  Get second or third opinions

Sometimes we are so focused on the job description and who we are looking for that we tend to overlook the fact that working in a company envisions a more layered and cross-sectional approach. The new employee will have to work and interact with individuals in various departments within the organization. Hence, it is recommended that you bring in people from other departments to give their view on the suitability of the candidate.

d)  A dry run before the real thing

When interviewing the candidate, make sure that you make them get a feel for the environment and type of work they will be expected to perform. A good idea is to set up a trial period that gives both the candidate and the company an idea of how the working relationship will feel like.

e)  Be Clear

It’s always recommended to be clear and upfront with the candidate right from the get-go in terms of what you expect the deliverables to be. Once the objectives and key results have been laid out and agreed upon, it’s essential that the employee be made aware that failure to abide by them will not be tolerated. As mentioned above, it’s better to part ways with somebody who isn’t living up to their commitments, than to keep giving them another chance.

In a nutshell, it all boils down to how selective a company is during the hiring process. If a company is careful about who it employs, it can maintain company culture and avoid bad hires.. Although there are no clear signs to spot a bad hire, some common red flags to watch out for during the hiring process are:

       The candidate has not researched your company and doesn’t know much about the culture or its values

       The candidate shows up late to the interview indicating poor time-keeping

       The candidate is slow in communicating when setting up interviews

       The candidate is more focused on the compensation and benefits rather than the job responsibilities

       The candidate abruptly asks to reschedule the interview at the last minute

In the end, there are no guarantees that your next hire will be a good fit but what you can do is set clear expectations during the hiring process and trust your instincts. Most companies delay acting on the initial signs of a bad hire and this hurts them in the long run. Keeping an active approach on the assessment of productivity and harmonious work environment from it’s employees, while simultaneously being flexible and  accommodating to unavoidable circumstances creates better chances for the company. Timely intervention can save countless hours, money, and employee morale.

Who comes to the job interview is not in the hands of the company and it’s easy to confuse a bad hire for a superstar if you’re not vigilant. If a company is aware of the costs of a bad hire and puts in place processes and mechanisms to weed out bad apples, it can save itself thousands of dollars in losses and damages to its reputation.

Looking to hire? Reach out at talent@astrolabs.com

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