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'The biggest turkey I ever hired'

One new employee decided to take a nap in the CEO's office the first week on the job. Oops.

By Anne Fisher, senior writer
November 26, 2008: 5:52 AM ET

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Quiz
Succeed in your new job?
Whether you're changing positions mid-career or starting your first real job out of college, new hires face common pitfalls. Do you know how to avoid them?
1. Five minutes from now, you will step on to an elevator whose only other passenger is your company's CEO, whom you haven't met before. You are most likely to:
Be completely tongue-tied and say nothing.
Introduce yourself and give a 30-second summary of the work you're doing and why you're excited about it.
Chat about the weather.

(Fortune) -- Folks, this can't be cheering news for job hunters, but lots of companies big and small have declared hiring freezes lately - and most of their managers, it seems, are breathing sighs of relief.

In fact, 69%, or more than two-thirds, of hiring managers in a recent survey said they'd rather muddle along with the employees they have than take a chance on hiring someone new. The poll, conducted last month by Caliper (www.calipercorp.com), a Princeton, N.J., leadership-development firm with a long list of Fortune 500 clients, surveyed 190 U.S. hiring managers across a variety of industries.

With Thanksgiving coming up, one question asked the bosses to "describe the biggest turkey you ever hired." A sampling of the answers:

  • "A fellow who, after one week on the job, asked for a week off so he could go to Florida. We said no. He called in sick for a week and came back with a tan."
  • "We hired someone who, the second day on the job, was found taking a nap in the CEO's office."
  • "One new hire came in late, left early, and told me, 'I'm going to be sick tomorrow, so I won't be in.' "
  • "I hired a salesman who had left the passenger window of his car open during a rainstorm, so I rode around all day on a wet seat."
  • "An individual who immediately ran up $5,000 in personal expenses on his corporate credit card, which the company has been unable to recover."
  • "We hired a driver who called in and said he had a flat, so he couldn't get to the next job. When we suggested he change the tire and move on, it turned out he actually had four flat tires. He had tried to leave a parking lot the wrong way (without paying) and, after running over the tire shredders with the front tires, kept going and blew out the back two."
  • "A young woman I hired snowballed me all the way. Whenever I was out of our two-person office, she would put up a 'Closed' sign and leave."
  • "I offered someone a position and he accepted, but before his start date, I found out he had worked here years ago and was fired. The reason for dismissal was that he requested time off to go to his mother's funeral. Somebody checked and found out his mother had died three years before. We didn't rehire him."
  • "The administrative assistant who came in on the first morning after I hired her, then left for lunch and never returned."
  • "One guy didn't show up for work, so I called his home. His wife said he was at work and gave me a number to call. When I called, I found out he had a new job."

Needless to say, if some new hires turn out to be turkeys, lots of hiring managers are no prize pigs themselves, and I expect we'll hear about them, too. Click on over to the Ask Annie blog and tell us: What was the worst hire you've ever made - or who was the biggest turkey you ever went to work for? Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! To top of page

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