How to hire and fire - according to the pros

Hiring and firing. Neither are decisions I take lightly. If you hire the wrong people you risk upsetting the balance of your whole team, while firing someone obviously has serious consequences not just for the individual involved but for staff morale in general.

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With that in mind, I've pulled together some hiring and firing tips from some of the best in the business world. I've found them really useful - hopefully you will too.


Do a trial week

David Rusenko, founder and CEO of Weebly, pays all prospective employees to do a trial week before making them a full job offer. Speaking to CNBC, he explained: "You get in and hit the ground running. It's an opportunity for people to show their work and show the quality of their work1".

He added it also gives people a chance to get to know your company and see if it's the right fit for them, which I think could be really useful when it comes to keeping retention rates down.

Don't be afraid of people who are smarter than you

Some CEOs might want to be the most knowledgeable person in their organization, but Damon John of FUBU likes to bring on people he thinks are smarter than him in different areas, saying it creates a culture where people are encouraged to learn and thrive2.

I love this point - after all, even at the top you should never stop learning, and who better to teach you than your employees?

Hire people you need - not people you like

Brit businessman Sir Richard Branson, who runs the Virgin empire, warns against hiring people you like over people you actually need.

In a LinkedIn post, he warned against hiring friends as it could become awkward if you need to let them go3.

Hire people you can laugh with

On the flip side, Daniel Ishag, founder and CEO of taxi comparison app Karhoo, emphasizes the importance of hiring people you can have fun with - particularly if you are just starting out.

"Believe me, you want people around you who can make you laugh when it's 3am and you're still working," he told Tech City News4.

As someone who's had to work intensively with a small team during some pretty tough times, I can certainly see the value in this! Although, for me personally, it's more about being around like-minded people.

Test people's commitment

Every employer wants people who are hardworking and dedicated - unafraid to get their hands dirty. But how do you test that from day one? OfferUp CEO Nick Huzar has an unusual approach - he makes people build their own desk and chair on their first day5.

Since he started it two years ago, 80-plus employees have built their own office space. I'm not sure this approach would necessarily work for me, but it has got me thinking about ways to show people what is expected of them from the start.


Make sure it's not a complete surprise

If an employee has no idea that they are about to be fired, something's gone wrong, according to Joe Campagna, owner, My Virtual HR Director.

Speaking to Business News Daily, he said employees should have been receiving constant and real-time feedback from management all along, adding that it's when an employee is taken off-guard that lawsuits can arise6.

Do it quickly

Most businesspeople are familiar with the phrase ‘hire slowly, fire quick' and for Modavanti founder David Dietz it's key.

Speaking to he remembers a time he hired someone who was a complete disaster but didn't fire them because of concerns about what it would do to the team's morale. But he admits that all dragging his feet did was damage company culture even more7.

I've been in this situation myself and can agree - it's best to make a decision quickly if someone just isn't the right fit. Things usually get harder, not easier, the longer you leave it.

Fire people who don't fit into the company culture

If people are struggling with skills then training and development might be the answer. But if someone simply doesn't fit into your company culture, there's often not much you can do other than let them go.

Also speaking to, Maria Seidman of Yapp said she has let highly skilled people go before because they weren't right for the business8.

Again, this is something I feel quite strongly about. Having someone who doesn't work well within your company can, from my experience, really damage morale and productivity, regardless of what their own work is like.

Obviously, if you are in the unfortunate position of having to let someone go, it's important to ensure you are staying within the law. I've found this this blog post, which covers all the do's and don'ts, really useful.

1, "At this start-up you have to work a full week before getting a job offer", Kathleen Elkins, (accessed January 9 2017).

2, "8 highly successful entrepreneurs reveal their best hiring secrets", Kathleen Elkins (accessed January 9 2017),

3 LinkedIn, "Five top tips to starting a successful business", Richard Branson (accessed January 9 2017),

4 Tech City News, "Plan, hire well and have fun: Top tips for budding entrepreneurs", Daniel Ishag (accessed January 9 2017),

5, "Why this start-up CEO has employees build their own desks on day one", Kathleen Elkins (accessed January 9 2017),

6 Business News Daily, "Time to let go? 15 expert tips for firing employees", Brittney Helmrich (accessed January 9 2017),

7 & 8, "7 tips for firing employees", Kira M Newman (accessed January 9 2017),