Sound the alarm. It wasn’t hard for these managers to recognize the glaring behaviors of their new employees. Content has been edited for clarity.
In And Out
“I once fired an employee before ten am on her first day.
One of my accounting staff, Jackie, was leaving. She was a lovely girl and a perfect employee. I liked her very much. But she decided she was going to travel around the world with her boyfriend for a year. So she resigned and gave me her month’s notice, which I reluctantly accepted. She really was a star employee.
I interviewed about four or five people and eventually offered the job to a young lady with reasonable experience, and a good ‘I want to learn’ attitude. We will call her Helen Though, it was not her real name.
Helen started at nine am on Monday morning and as luck would have it, I had just finished the month-end payroll. So I asked Jackie to hand out the payslips with Helen, specifically so Helen could meet every member of staff in the building. We were about 50 employees at the time. Helen went around the building and met everyone, handed out said payslips, and returned to my office to start work.
At this point, she demanded a pay raise. She stated, quite forcefully, that the job I had offered her was actually two jobs (purchase ledger and sales ledge clerk), and therefore she should be paid more.
I calmly pointed out I had explained all the roles of the job in the interview. Indeed I was specific in the advert that these were the roles. I also mentioned I had offered her the same role as Jackie was currently fulfilling and the salary offered had been discussed, agreed upon, and accepted at the interview before the offer was made.
Also, her contract of employment clearly stated the job title, the role that was offered, and the salary.
But she was unrepentant. She told me she was behind with her rent because she hadn’t had a job for six months, and therefore needed to earn more money than the salary accepted.
I pointed out, very calmly, that she was replacing Jackie, on the same salary Jackie was currently on. I didn’t go into detail, but Jackie was an absolutely star employee, who had received several pay raise because she was so good at her job and got on with everyone. And yet Helen was starting on the same level.
Helen was unrepentant and pressed for her pay raise. I said I wasn´t going to discuss a pay raise at that time. To which she said she would accept the job as offered but would like a salary review within three months.
I told her the job offer was now retracted and called HR to confirm I had fired someone within an hour of hiring her.
So, to my immense embarrassment, I had introduced a new employee to every single member of staff, the entire board of directors including the CEO and every single shareholder in the company, only to have fired her before ten am that day.
So it could have gone better.”
The Missing Piece
“He showed up three hours late.
On the first day on the job, most people would be excited, right? Most people would want to make a good impression. Most people might even have scoped out parking ahead of time so they would not come in late.
Well, back in the day, we were buying a large consignment of computers, so large, that the vendor agreed to send us an extra hand to help get them all configured and deployed. Sweet deal. Everybody won.
Only this guy showed up late. Three hours late.
Okay, well he was a contractor, and that was odd. I mean, you normally would get a room near the job and just walk over, but whatever. He knew his stuff. He was nice and funny. He was kind of scraggly and unkempt, but this was network and desktop support. We all carried Leatherman tools on our belts just to intimidate the machinery. Off to work we go; all is forgiven.
The next day he hadn’t shown up at all. About lunchtime, we started digging into his work and noticed a missing laptop. We kept looking and found several laptops missing from our spares and loaners. We were organized. We were like a well-oiled machine, our team. We knew where everything was supposed to be.
Back then, we also used to run our own network cabling, and one of the guys noticed something odd about a ceiling tile where no wiring had been run. He got a ladder and checked it out—there was a brand new laptop sitting atop the suspended ceiling. Yeah. Like what the heck?
So we conducted a search while the boss was on the phone with the vendor. They couldn’t reach him. We found one more laptop, an old one. By the end of the day, all the locks had been changed and a police report was filed. The next day, the police took our boss to the local pawn shops with a list of serial numbers. More laptops were recovered. Mr. Contractor man was a no-show.
Several days later, the dude called my boss and explained he was living in his car somewhere downtown. And he pawned a couple of laptops to stake a trip to the casino and he was arrested. And fired. And jailed.”
“I once fired an employee as they were walking out of the elevator to begin their first day on the job with the company.
I hired a group of ten people and had them convene in our main lobby to begin their orientation process. Nine of them were on time. I ran slightly late that morning but made it to the main lobby by eight-ten in the morning. I was ten minutes late.
As I was speaking to the group and giving them the basic rundown of how their morning was going to proceed, the elevator doors opened. It was employee number ten.
‘Mr. X, it’s eight- thirteen, and you were asked to report to me at eight o’clock. Would you mind telling me the reason for your delay?’
At this point, I had zero intention of discharging him. I had anticipated a response along the lines of ‘I misjudged traffic coming in’ or, well, something that was easily understandable. I expected to make a brief example of him, but then drop it and take the group of ten on to their orientation.
‘Yeah, Mr. McIntire. I got completely wasted last night and passed out in my closet. I just woke up and came straight here.’
‘I see. Well, Mr. X, I’m afraid that while our company is remarkably tolerant with regard to our substance policies, I’m afraid that being late for your first day of employment due to being on a bender the night before exceeds that tolerance level. You may return to the elevator, go home, shower, and then seek your next employment opportunity. I wish you good luck.’
The other nine employees averaged four years with the company. The total number of late arrivals for all nine during their first two years? Zero. In fact, most made it a point to arrive at seven forty-five (or earlier) to start their day at eight am. Though that was never asked of them.”
“A red flag? When they didn’t know their own work history.
I worked for a major healthcare company. And at the time of this incident, I was a contractor, leading two software test teams.
Any resources brought on board were vetted by the contracting company, then interviewed by the manager of our department.
When one individual (whose wife worked on a separate team) was contracted and assigned to my team. I met with him, like I usually do, to get to know him a bit.
When I started chatting about his previous job, ‘So you worked for XXX, in New Jersey?’
He at first had no idea what I was talking about, then stuttered and stammered that oh yeah, he worked for them for a while.
My suspicions were raised. I immediately contacted the client representative from the contracting company and asked him to inquire into the new hires’ background and the vetting process in general. I also contacted my department manager to ask about the interview.
After a few days of pushing, I learned that this guy’s resume was completely bogus. Apparently, there was a black market for Indian H1B holders where the person can pay a bit of money and have a fake background and resume created for them.
Interestingly, both the contracting company and my immediate manager wanted to ignore the incident. I think they were concerned about any repercussions from being taken in by a fake resume. It turned out the contracting company just rubber stamps the background process, and my manager didn’t ask any questions about the applicant’s background.
I eventually had to tell my manager flat out that if this person stayed, then I was gone. but not before blowing the lid off of this incident with our director and human resources.
So yeah, not knowing your own employment history is a big red flag.”
Too Good To Be True
“I worked at a big shipping company on the east coast. The company has a fleet of ships and barges for transporting goods all over the world. When someone retired, a position for a senior-level position was open. I was the executive in charge of filling the position. When going through the interviews, a younger man came and interviewed for the position. He was perfect and highly qualified for the position. He got the position right on the spot. He would start in a week, and the CEO was very happy we were adding diversity to the workplace.
The kid started a week later and he hit the ground running. Not everyone in the company was as satisfied with him as I was. He got things done on time and efficiently. He was a good worker. The only blemish was he took a lunch that was supposed to be an hour but took two. I reminded him lunch was only one hour, and he needed to abide by the time. He agreed and we didn’t have another problem for a while.
Our company has a policy that before you log onto a computer, you need to sign a release every six months that allowed your account to be reviewed if need be. On the first day, he got a weird malware that needed the help of four of the information technology staff to clean the computer. No one thought anything of it. How could it be his fault? About two weeks went by, and it happened again. On the very same day, he came in acting like he was taking substances. I let him leave to go to the emergency room because he said he might have the flu. He called the office about an hour later saying he left his wallet on his desk and needed his insurance number. The person who opened his desk accidentally opened the wrong drawer and found two weapons and 50,000 dollars in cash. The staff member gave him the insurance information, stayed calm, then came to me with what he found.
After I found out what was inside the desk, I knew the viruses were not random. I had IT bring up his account on a secure computer, and found out he was getting his work done, while also scheduling illegal deals on his lunch break on a website. It later turned out to be the source of the viruses. We also went through the desk, which was completely legal to do because of the workplace policies that this individual signed. In the desk, the final tally was four weapons, 96,000 dollars in cash, and a very small amount of pot. We found in his emails he had an illegal deal during his first lunch break, which apparently ran long. Hence the long lunch break on the first day.
The next day, he returned to a box of his things on his desk. And the business card of the detective that picked up his weapons, money, and pot, along with his computer hard drive, which could be picked up at any time at the local police precinct. The employee was perfect, except for his long lunch break on his very first day.”
“We had a requirement for a specialist in the ETL — extract, transform, and load– process. After interviewing a plethora of candidates from the Delhi/NCR region and being unable to find a suitable match, human resources sent in resumes from Bangalore.
We set up the first round of telephonic interviews where a couple of candidates looked good to go all the way. Then, another round of interviews commenced which took place over Skype as the candidate was in a different state. The candidate was impressive with his knowledge of the ETL practices and the projects he worked upon were match our requirements.
Needless to say, he was selected. The human resource team fulfilled the remaining formalities and the candidate arrived after two months of his mandatory notice period at his firm. When we met him, it was all normal. However, I wasn’t able to recognize the guy. Perhaps because the interview took place over Skype and we had been interviewing so many candidates it made it arduous to remember faces.
At the near end of his first day, I received an email from human resources wherein they asked for the details of the recently joined candidate. It was odd because usually, this stuff came under the responsibilities of HR. The very next hour, my manager came up to me and told me to ask the new guy some questions tomorrow about our field of work. Just slip in some questions whilst I had talked to him and assess his level of understanding.
Again an odd moment. But I did as was told the next day. Surprisingly, he couldn’t answer any of those questions. He couldn’t even answer those questions that otherwise wouldn’t even bother someone with far less experience than him.
I reported it to the manager. The report went to human resources. The next week, three gentlemen in business formals arrived on our floor and very quietly (almost like a covert intelligence operation) sneaked the guy out of our work floor.
A couple of days later, we heard that the guy who was initially interviewed never joined. Somebody else with the same credentials and past work experience joined us. Perhaps the guy who eventually joined had hired somebody else to take the interview for him. Perhaps! Perhaps not! But it’s all still speculation.”
A Little Bit Off
“There were reasons I don’t train.
I had been working as a driver for a couple of years when the big boss asked me if I could train a new driver we had hired.
After my head quit swelling, I said, ‘Sure!’
So the new guy came in. He had no idea what he was doing and couldn’t shift without scratching it. He was constantly telling me this wasn’t how they did it in Trucking School, and how I was supposed to be doing the job I had been doing for the past couple of years. Yeah, kid. Keep talking.
So, we got back to the yard, and I pulled the truck up to the fuel island. Yes. I was the one driving. There was a reason for this. I informed our newbie that when we were done for the day, we refuel the truck. Mainly because Ray, our shop manager, insisted on it.
‘Well, we didn’t do that in Trucking School.’
‘Well,’ I said, ‘This ain’t trucking school. This is reality. And when Ray says you fuel the truck at the end of the day, you fuel it.’
He didn’t like that, of course, and never let me forget it. All the way up to the point where I parked the truck and started to show him how to close out our paperwork for the day. I say started because once the truck stopped rolling, he was out the door.
Okay, so I finished the paperwork myself, and once I finished my post-trip inspection, (damage over time requirement and I was pretty sure they taught his sorry behind about that in Trucking School), I gathered everything up and headed to the office, which, coincidentally, went right by the fuel island.
Which is where I found our newbie.
He had the bottle in one hand. He had the cap in the other. It turned out he was a Dumpster Diver, and he’d just found his first ‘Trucker’s Bomb.’
At that point, he saw me and said, ‘You know, this lemonade tastes funny.’
One of these days, I should learn to keep my mouth shut.
‘Dude,’ I said, ‘That ain’t lemonade.’
That’s when the gag reflex kicked in, and I was wearing it.
Yeah, he didn’t last the night.”
Word Of Mouth
“He was a know-it-all.
We recently hired a new support engineer. He had been out of the workforce for a bit but was an MSCE– master of science in civil engineering– so he thought he knew his stuff. Obviously, he didn’t.
I had an issue where emails from a website weren’t coming through. Our engineer stuck his nose in and immediately offered causes and solutions. I thought they were all wrong but entertained him anyway.
‘The email address is wrong. Let’s inspect the source code of the website.’
Right-click, inspect code, ctrl-f, search for an email address, nothing.
‘It must be blah, blah, blah.’
I explained why he was on the wrong track, why his troubleshooting isn’t working and what I thought it was (the web server is configured as a mail server for the domain when it shouldn’t be). He refused to listen to me and insisted that we keep troubleshooting.
He got called to have his induction or whatever and I fixed the issue. Not to brag, but I was correct. There were a few more instances like this, and he was gone after two weeks.”
At A Delay
“I had onboarded a team member who traveled from our offshore office in India to work for a client in Copenhagen. As he had just arrived in Denmark two days back and was not familiar with the country, we agreed to meet at the train station at eight-thirty AM on his first day, so that he could travel with me and reach the office on time.
I waited for about 15 minutes at the station and tried to call him a few times, no response. I did not wait further and left for the office. He called me about an hour later and said he had overslept and then was talking to family in India which took ‘too long.’ I asked him to take a taxi to the office, but he wouldn’t do it because it was ‘too expensive’ for him.
An hour later, he called me again that he had gotten down at the wrong bus stop and could not find the way to the office. Also, his cell phone battery was dying and soon got switched off. One of my colleagues went to look out for him and fortunately was able to locate him. He finally reached the office around noon. It was now clear to me we made a bad decision in inducting him.
Needless to say, he was a below-average performer who could not be trusted to deliver any tasks independently. Any work assigned to him was always delayed and half-baked and had to be reworked by others before delivering to the client. In spite of all this, he honestly believed that he was an excellent performer – a classic case of the Dunning-Kruger effect.
He was released from the team in about four months. The last I heard was he was fired from the company for under-performance.”
“This was a colleague on the same level as me—not someone I had personally made the decision to hire or would ever supervise. On her first day, we had a staff coffee gathering to meet the new person. Someone asked why she had left her old job, and she said something to the effect of not liking her old boss who ‘thought she was all that.’
It didn’t show the greatest judgment to publicly diss your old boss on your first day at a new place. We were in a pretty small, tight-knit field where there’s a good chance the new boss was friends with the old boss. I don’t remember whether the new boss heard the comment or not; if she didn’t, she could have easily heard about it later.
Besides, the new boss also very much considered herself ‘all that’ and then some. So I knew my new coworker would be miserable in the job. All the more so when her inability and unwillingness to conceal her feelings of annoyance would inevitably turn the new boss against her.
So, yeah, she didn’t get fired but she did hate the job and work environment pretty much from the beginning. She left after about a year for a significantly lower-paying job.”
“When they interrupted you and cut you off in the midst of your statement.
So here’s how it went.
I interviewed a guy who had decent skills for the job and an eager-to-learn attitude. I could see he had potential and early on in his career he had done some above-average work which was a positive sign. Though one thing that bothered me a bit during the interview was several times he cut me off before I could finish my sentence.
I didn’t think much about it at first and perceived it as part of his eagerness to tell me more about his experience and to impress me. So I let it go.
I hired him after the interview process.
The trouble started soon after he joined the team. It was apparent within the first few days that his habit of interrupting people was not because of eagerness but stemmed from a bit of arrogance and the need to show off, which quickly became annoying and disrespectful for the rest of my team.
I pointed out to him he needed to listen more but the effect of that didn’t last long and soon he was back to square one.
I patiently put up with it for two weeks hoping his attitude would change looking at other people on the team but it continued and ultimately I had to let him go within the first month.
I strongly looked for the cultural fit in the candidate before hiring them but in this case, I missed out.
I learned two things from this incident: No matter how trivial, if something seemed off about the candidate in the interview, press harder and dig deeper right then and there. People who have done good work early on in their career could become a little arrogant. Evaluate this during the interview process.”