Rock Star Interviewee Ended Up Being A Flop Employee? Here Are Some Tips!

Sep 13, 2021

I just learned that the candidate I hired and wooed for a week before popping the big question has left my team. This makes me feel terrible, as does the weight on my shoulders. It’s that sinking feeling suddenly getting worse when you know it could have been avoided with just one conversation. I’m feeling bad for myself and for everyone else who will now have to pick up her work load.

No matter how much you like someone in an interview, there is always a chance they will not be a good fit once they are on your team. The interview process is not perfect, and a lot of times we as hiring managers put our best foot forward, putting our teams in a precarious position. Not only do they have to get the work done, but now they have to pick up the slack from this person by themselves while still doing their own jobs. No wonder people are stressed out in today’s workplaces!

We can all agree interviews are a crapshoot after awhile. You meet someone and you like them, but you don’t really know who they truly are until you have them on your team. I’ve been speaking with this engineer who got a job offer, but she did not even get the job. We thought we were getting a rock star, but she was actually a flop and never worked out the way everyone on our team expected.

I’m still in shock because I felt she was our candidate before I ever hired her. She seemed really great over the phone and her resume looked amazing, but then when I asked to meet with her, it got really dry. It turns out she simply excelled at doing one thing (beyond expectations) and that is very different than being ready to do a number of things you are told to do on your team.

I learned this lesson the hard way, and I’ve learned from it. I have to be 100% sure that someone is going to be a good fit and worth the trouble before extending an offer. This means that you need to check credentials, references, job history, and more.

What Happened with this Candidate?

This candidate was not who we thought they were in terms of being a rock star, even though they interviewed well. The interview went well because we had rehearsed some of her answers in advance so she could mention how our company aligns with her hobbies or if she would like to live nearby after she gets hired. She also mentioned her resume was made up of things she was extra proud of, as we did not ask for it in the first place. We wanted to hire her based on her enthusiasm and personality alone.

I think I made the offer on a Friday night because I liked her so much, which is something we can all agree is pretty typical in the technology field. We want to hire these people because they are exciting to us, and as hiring managers, we know if we don’t get them, another company will. I set up a call for Monday to meet with the candidate and that is when she shocked me. Without giving it any thought, I offered her the job!

If you are interviewing candidates, and they seem great on paper, but then start to show their true selves in person, it’s a good idea to take some time to think about whether you should extend an offer. It’s hard not to make this mistake, especially if someone has all the credentials listed below and they are so well-spoken that you just want them on your team.

Most of these things can be researched ahead of time through the recruiter or even through word of mouth (our own company was once accused of doing this). However, we also need to research if this person will be a bad fit for the job. This can be difficult as you may have to have a conversation about their past that they may not like to talk about, but it is important.

How to Avoid Hiring an Employee You Don’t Want on Your Team?

I’ve made the mistake of offering someone a job too fast in the past, so here are some tips I’ve learned from that mistake:

Do your homework and make sure they are really what you need before extending an offer (or at least get them involved in an interview with another person on your team). Read up about the candidate on social media networks and see if they mention some things you should know. For example, if you are looking for someone with a startup background, this may help.

Make sure they have a solid resume and make sure it is exactly what the job will require.

Check credentials like references and online references to make sure they are real. Fake emails can be very bad, so be cautious of those too!

Ask them to take an online personality test like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator Test or some traits that are more specific towards your job such as knowing about your company’s industry. See if these ideas match what we want on our team before extending an offer. If you aren’t sure, just do more research on their claims.

When you are interviewing, don’t just ask questions that have easy answers. Ask more detailed questions about their passions and hobbies. See if these match your company’s goals and wants. You could even ask them how they would get started with a certain project or company goal. Don’t take it at face value if they say they’d like to do something because it’s on their resume, as we all know resumes can be tricky!

I wish I had asked her to explain the topics on her resume before extending an offer, as she was the problem child on our team because she didn’t know what we wanted from her over the course of a month. She would come to us with a list of projects that we did not need from her and we had to tell her that each one was not part of the job. We also took this time to tell her where she would be placed on the team, how much work she would do, and what projects were priorities for our team.

After she made this list, she basically went rogue and spent all her time on personal projects until someone finally said something! I think people think they are going to get in a new place and run with it without responsibility, but when you make an offer too soon, people are like “Great! Let me go do my own thing for a while. I’ll be back.”

What Did We Do After That?

I was embarrassed and made the decision not to extend an offer to anyone else for a few months because I did not want to make the same mistake twice. This turned out to be a bad decision in the long run as we lost some really awesome candidates. I’m sure you’ve made this mistake too, so don’t let it happen again!

I have learned from my mistakes, no matter how embarrassing they were or how much work we had to go through. I hope this article makes your job easier and helps you avoid some of these slip-ups so everyone ends up happy with their new job. If you have a minute, I’d love to hear what your experience is with hiring and what you would like to see in the next version of this article. Let me know in the comments!

About the Author:

Beth Stevenson is currently a Software Engineer for a Local Government in Northern Illinois. She is also an active member in her local AAUW chapter as well as an aspiring writer, wife, and mom who loves to write about anything tech related. You can find her on LinkedIn and Twitter @BethSCTechnique or on Tumblr at