Subscribe to Inc. magazine

4 Ways to Avoid a Bad Hire

It's not enough to just screen out jerks. A bad cultural fit can ruin a whole company's mood.
One jerk can ruin an entire office. That’s why our very first rule when we started our company was a strict “No Jerks” policy. But it doesn’t stop there: It is equally important to avoid hiring someone who might be a great person but simply doesn’t fit into the company culture you have established. One bad hire can ruin the mood of everyone around them.
We’ve worked hard to ensure we are building our company around the right people, who bring with them the right skills to ensure success. Like anything else, the key to success has everything to do with focus and execution. At Launchpad we’ve implemented practices that will ensure we remain a place where people like to come and work every day. As you’re building your staff, consider these four ways of ensuring cultural integrity:
1.      Be inclusive. When we interview people, we make sure a cross section of the agency meets with the candidate before making a hiring decision. That often includes not just the people who they will work for, but also those who will work with and for the person. Many companies avoid having the people who will report to someone participate in the interview process, but we feel having their input and buy in is critically important. 
2.      Listen to everyone. Really everyone. On a few occasions the senior team felt a candidate was a great fit, but when feedback came from the folks who would be working for them every day it was a very different story.  So we didn’t extend an offer. The first time this happened I think people were shocked that we listened and valued their input that much. We didn’t pull the trigger on these hires because those staff perspectives mattered. Their concerns were valid and they raised points we would have never considered from our vantage point.
3.      Look outside the interview. You can tell a great deal about a candidate by what happens outside of the actual interviews. Are they easy to work with when setting up meetings?  How do they interact with those who they feel are not making the hiring decisions? What kind of questions are they asking HR?  Everyone is different and so is every company culture. You’ll often learn more from understanding how they go through the process than you will in an interview discussion when candidates know they are on the spot.   
4.      Trust your gut. On several occasions we have had candidates that seemed so right for the position, but there were one or two things that just left nagging concerns. We learned the hard way that we need listen to that little voice in our head. Literally every single time we’ve overridden our instincts in one are because someone seemed perfect in other ways it has backfired, and in each case the person did not last long.
Last updated: Sep 27, 2013

SCOTT ELSER | Columnist

Scott is the co-founder and president of Launchpad Advertising, one of the fastest growing advertising agencies in the U.S. and 3-time member of the Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest growing companies. Scott is a marketing consultant, entrepreneur, business coach, speaker, and contributing writer for Inc. magazine. Connect with him on Twitter @scottlpa

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

Register on today to get full access to:
All articles  |  Magazine archives | Livestream events | Comments

Or sign up using: