So you've found the perfect job candidate and are thinking of hiring him. But wait; he or she’s been fired previously. What should you do?
Should you still consider hiring them or run in the other direction for fear their incompetence will resurface and you'll just have to fire them as well?
It's a tricky situation and there really is no standard answer.
The best thing to do is think it through regarding the individual situation, ask appropriate questions, and go from there.
Here are some things to consider while mulling it over:
What happened and why?
Why did this potential employee get fired? Don't be afraid to ask candidly and get his side. You can probably get a vibe of how honest he's being. Oftentimes people get fired for reasons beyond incompetency and you want to check it out. Did he try to remedy the situation? Was he aware of what was expected of him? After you get his side, check with his past supervisor/manager and get the other side. If the sides are close, you've got validation, if not; you'll need to figure out where the discrepancies lie.
What do others say about him?
Not only should you check with his past supervisor (the one who fired him), but also speak to those he worked with prior to that. Do they offer glowing reports or are the reports more tarnished than shiny? Do you see repeat behaviors that could lead to work below what you're looking for? Are there unethical behaviors that you're seeing a pattern of and want to stay clear of? If recommendations are supportive, the situation where he was fired could have been a onetime thing and you should be safe hiring him, on the other hand, if you hear things over and over, you probably want to stay away as they could be a pattern.
Can you tell that this person learned from the experience?
Maybe a valuable lesson was learned the hard way and now the candidate is ready to see things from another point of view.
Everyone has a bad experience or two in the work world, but often you can learn from it and become an even stronger person.
If this person is coming through, taking responsibility, and seeing things in a positive manner, the firing may have been a valuable lesson where he gained important insight, and now you're safe to hire.
However, if the candidate can't take responsibility and only throws blame, he may not be whom you want on your staff. If you feel nothing was learned and the behaviors could likely repeat, stay away.
Bottom line — look at the big picture.
Ask smart questions (to the candidate and those who previously worked with them). And trust your gut.
Heather Legg is an Atlanta-based independent writer who covers career and business topics, including social media, small business, personal finance, and brick and mortar business degrees and getting an online degree in business.