How to Hire a New Employee and Make Sure You Don’t End Up Firing Them

(also posted in Forbes.)

You just hired a new employee for $100K; congratulations!

Recruiting is expensive.  You probably spent 30-50% of her compensation recruiting her (her recruiting cost ratio), and if she leaves early you’ll lose another 30-50% of her compensation recruiting her replacement.  So how do you increase the odds that she says with you?

Last week, I wrote about how you can start a new job and not get fired.  My concern here is the other side of the table: how you can hire a new person and not end up firing them.  ffVC has a particular interest in this topic, given the firm’s investments in TheResumator and

Onboarding properly not only helps workers get up to speed as quickly as possible—it is also instrumental in retaining those workers for many years to come as effective, committed employees. Research has shown that onboarding processes have a significant and measurable impact on job satisfaction and performance, as well as organizational commitment, work withdrawal, and turnover.

Although it can be costly to train, equip, and integrate new hires, the payoff is ultimately well worth it. See the graph below from Watson Wyatt.


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To assist with onboarding, I’ve developed a short list of best practices:

Before hiring

  • Understand the candidate’s role and confer with anyone that would be working with them. Make sure everyone is on the same page, and that it is indeed worthwhile to make the hire.
  • Having defined the role, determine what metrics will be most predictive of success, and design objective tests to assess candidates.
  • Once you have assessed competence, verify that the candidate will be a good cultural fit before making a final decision.

Prior to first day

  • Add the employee’s name to contact, routing, and distribution lists.
  • Send the new hire an information packet with background on your company, the people they will be working with, and their role. Address any logistical concerns such as getting into the building, parking, where to go, how to dress, etc.
  • The hire will probably have a few questions. Give them a point of contact.
  • Plan their first day. Structure will make the hire feel more comfortable and minimize the possibility for confusion. Include the plan as part of the information packet.
  • Ensure some flexibility in your own schedule to handle anything that comes up.
  • Set up the hire’s workspace and make sure they will be able to connect to the office network.
  • Call the hire to check in and see if they have any questions
  • Send an announcement about the hire’s role and arrival to everyone who will be working with them.

First day

  • Introduce the employee to a mentor, and set up more time to talk later in the day.
  • Give a tour of the facility.
  • Have the employee fill out any forms or documents you will need.
  • Take them out to lunch.
  • Have work ready for them. Even though it will be some time before new hires are fully onboarded and able to operate autonomously, it is important that they feel like they are contributing. Pick something that won’t overwhelm them, but will acclimate them to the sort of work they will ultimately be doing. Hopefully, you can set a pattern for effective interaction.


  • Give regular feedback. Eventually the employee will internalize your standards and procedures, but in the meantime you should be explicit.
  • Ask them for feedback on you. This feedback will be useful for adjusting your approach to that particular employee, as well as continuously improving your onboarding process.


Thanks to Matt Joyce  for his contributions to this post.  Image source: Department of Ed.

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