Hiring: The Broken Fit Cycle

We often work with companies that have hired an individual who was not the right fit. Many of them have followed a similar series of stages before requiring our outplacement services.

Stage One: The Hire

A company hires an individual with very strong hard skills. Technically, they "know their stuff", and they appear to be a great match for the job.

Stage Two: Red Flags

On a technical level, the new hire performs well, but has trouble working with others. Management feels conflicted: On the one hand, the individual has the hard skills necessary to do the job well, but on the other hand, they can't get along with their co-workers. Uncomfortable with delivering such harsh feedback, management overlooks the problem. In year-end performance reviews, the individual receives a high rating based on technical performance.

Stage Three: Repercussions

The problem gets worse as the individual can't fit in, can't work with others or can't manage their own staff. Employee morale slips. Staff voice their concerns. Some ask to be relocated into another area of the company.

Stage Four: Conflicted

The company now depends on the individual's output. Sensing that it's too late or too difficult to address the interpersonal problems head-on, the hiring manager continues to hesitate, despite the negative influence on the rest of the team.

Stage Five: The Termination

A valued employee in the group leaves the company. At this point, the technically strong hire becomes a major liability. Working with HR, the hiring manager terminates their employment. Since the individual had previously received strong performance reviews, the company provides an unusually large severance package to mitigate any legal action.


A great starting point to address this common and costly cycle is to identify "fit" from the outset of your hiring process. Since the vast majority of terminations are a result of a lack of soft skills, not hard skills, understanding the critical element of "fit", will pay dividends.