How To Hire The Wrong Person

By Marc Poirier, General Manager of Abbey Placements LLC

“Don’t you know sarcasm when you hear it?” – Charlie Brown

Companies nowadays only want to hire the right person. They want someone with skills and talent. They want someone motivated to perform at a high level, someone who fits with their company culture. More research on best practices for recruiting and more tools for screening exist now than at any other time in history, making it harder than ever to hire the wrong person.

But what if you are a Ron Swanson? Ron Swanson is the fictional Head of the Parks and Recreation Department from the show Parks and Recreation. Driven by his political ideology, Ron is a manager who knows what he wants: employees who will grind his government department to a screeching halt. He hates government, so he wants to hire the wrong people. There has to be room in the world for people like Ron, right?

Ron Swanson hiring the wrong person

Although hiring the right person can be difficult, hiring the wrong person can thankfully be done with little to no effort. If you’re a Ron Swanson, follow these simple tips (or don’t) to help you hire the wrong person for any position:

Tip 1: Tell an interviewee all about the job and the kind of person you want before asking questions.

If you attempt to glean information by asking questions first, they may not know how to answer you correctly. Talk first in the interview and candidates will magically turn into the person you said you wanted. Give them the opportunity to present themselves as the exact person you want and you’ll soon discover you’ve hired the wrong person.

Tip 2: Only recruit from the pool of people who are actively looking for work.

When you consider people who already have a job, you are more likely to hire the right person. So why would you expand your search if you only want to hire the wrong person? There are obviously some great candidates you’ll want to avoid who are currently unemployed, but by limiting your search to only active job seekers you are increasing your odds of hiring the wrong person. Let’s leave the talented people in their current jobs, right?

Tip 3: Keep the best people at your company away from the hiring process.

Identify the top performers in your company and keep them as far away as possible. Talent attracts talent, so keeping top performers busy with “more important” things will help you avoid bringing good people together and inadvertently hiring the right person. Also, you are more likely to hire the wrong person if you hire someone who is nothing like your top performers.

Tip 4: Make the application process difficult and time-consuming

Many good candidates are busy working or interviewing at other companies, so keep them at bay with an obstacle course of tests and interviews spread out over several days. On the opposite end, the wrong person is often desperate enough to jump through any hoop to get a job. It’s not a perfect method because good candidates still get through and bad candidates will often get screened out, but it may help your overall workforce become more mediocre in time. And NEVER expedite the hiring process for the right candidate!

Tip 5: Strictly follow job requirements for education and experience

Screen out good candidates by telling them they don’t meet your requirements for education and experience. Be sure to ignore their talent and attitude. “But won’t I also keep the wrong candidate out of consideration?” Have you ever noticed how some of the worst employees have a good education and good experience but little talent and a poor attitude? If you want to hire the wrong person, focus on hiring untalented people with poor attitudes and don’t worry about education and experience getting in the way.


Anyone can hire the wrong person. Disclose everything you want without asking questions. Avoid recruiting people who are already working. Keep your best performers away from the hiring process. Develop a difficult and time-consuming application process. And focus on hiring untalented people with a poor attitude, not worrying about their experience and education. These are keys principles for hiring the wrong person.

Of course, if you want to hire the right person, just do the opposite of everything above this line.