Learning From a Bad Hire

Should staffing decisions come from the gut? It’s debatable.
  • Transcript


Question: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made so far? 

Andrew Goetz: We hired somebody to help us with the business that was just. You know when you say you should listen to your instincts? We were feeling like we were, I don’t want to say overwhelmed, but we needed a consultant for something and knew we needed a consultant, but we weren’t really sure how to address it. And somebody had recommended somebody and we both felt... you know there was something off and then it turned out to be very, very off. I’ll look at it that it was a learning experience and it could have been a lot worse and you know we caught it at the beginning and now it’s almost done, but… 

Matthew Malin: It’s the newest mistake. I guess maybe it is the biggest. 

Andrew Goetz: I think it was the worst mistake. 

Matthew Malin: I guess, maybe. 

Andrew Goetz: Yeah, because he was toxic. I mean that was the worst. It was just someone who lied and cheated and... it happens. I mean, it’s human nature and … 

Matthew Malin: We’ve made a lot of mistakes, but nothing big or bad. 

Andrew Goetz: Yeah, I mean we usually catch them. The good news is when you’re relatively small all your mistakes are relatively small as well, and when you’re big they can be colossal. And so as a young, very supple company we can recover from them. But everyone makes mistakes. I think the real question is do you make the same mistake twice?  

Question: What’s the secret to hiring? 

Andrew Goetz: I think your gut is important. 

Matthew Malin: No, I don’t think so. 

Andrew Goetz: I think we probably should have done more due diligence. I think it was just we were the business was moving very, very fast and frantically. We know we needed somebody and we were like all right, "Let’s just do it."

Matthew Malin: We’ve had hires that have been sort of gut responses, which have been great and others that have not. And we’ve had other hires that weren’t necessarily a gut response, but they were hired nonetheless and again, terrific ones; where we weren’t necessarily it wasn’t the first choice. 

Andrew Goetz: The lesson is after two, three weeks we probably should have reacted more quickly than we actually did. 

Matthew Malin: For a company of our size the thing that I think is most crucial in terms of what we do is hiring somebody that culturally is a good fit and if they’re smart and they fill the position in a manner for which they have experience or we feel is appropriate, et cetera, et cetera. Having the cultural fit and the passion for the business is probably the biggest hurdle because we’re only 20 people of which 10 of those are working sort of right out of our office in New York City. I think that’s the most crucial aspect of where we are for this size today.

Recorded on March 19, 2010