HR Strange But True!
November 20, 2008

A recent survey asked hiring managers to describe the “biggest turkey” they ever hired. The responses should leave no doubt as to why they considered the employee a dud.

While hiring is a rarer bird these days due to downsizing, employers still seeking talent find hiring new people to be more daunting than ever because “turkeys” are still lurking in the applicant pool, according to a recent survey by Caliper, an international management consulting firm.

The October 2008 survey of 190 hiring managers found that 69 percent of respondents find it easier to work with "the devil they know" in poorly performing employees rather than taking a chance on an "unknown" new hire. Just 31 percent of those queried find it harder to manage the people they have than to select new employees.

For some employers, these hiring concerns have proven to be well founded. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, Caliper asked managers to describe the "biggest turkey you ever hired." Among the responses:

  • “A fellow who, after 1 week on the job, asked to go to Florida. We said no, so he called in sick for a week and then came back with a tan!”
  • “We hired someone who could barely do a single task.”
  • “We hired a woman and the second day on the job, we found her taking a nap in the office of the CEO.”
  • “One gentleman came in late, left early, then told me, ‘I'm going to be sick tomorrow, so I won't be in'.”

“In difficult economic environments, people are a company's most powerful competitive advantage,” said Herb Greenberg, Caliper's founder, president, and CEO. "Every new hire provides a precious opportunity that employers don't want to squander. This adds to the pressure to ‘work smarter' in the hiring process and to avoid the costs of a poor decision.”

What was the biggest dud of a hire you or your organization ever made? Let us know at If we get enough good responses, we'll include them in a future column. By the way, HR Strange but True! will be on hiatus next week for the Thanksgiving holiday. It will return December 5.

Source: Caliper

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