The Day I Almost Hired a Terrorist

Paul Taylor, president of Environmental Solutions & Services, Inc., Urbana, Ill., can relate.

“Since starting our business in 1995, my biggest mistakes have always involved hiring decisions,” says Taylor. “A bad hiring decision can set your company back months or even years if it is a key position. The hiring decision that sticks out most in my mind, is the first time I ever hired anyone. I had done all of the work myself up to that point.”

So, Taylor ran an ad in the newspaper, and scheduled interviews with 15 people.

“Two people showed up for their interview,” he says. “They were best friends, and I hired them both to work at the same building. They seemed like nice guys … Why should I check their employment history?”

After about six weeks, the customer contact called Taylor in to his office. He informed him that a police investigation had been conducted as a result of some missing checks that had been cashed for more than $7,000.

“They had our employees on camera at the bank, cashing the checks. Needless to say, the employees were arrested, were fired, and forced to pay restitution,” he recalls. “Amazingly, our customer did not cancel the contract. In fact, we are still providing services there today. However, it was not good public relations, and I never could use them as a reference.”

The company has changed significantly since 1995. Since then, Taylor has been much more selective in the hiring process.

“We had two employees then, and we now have around 130,” he says. “Many of our employees work in situations where they are not supervised a good part of the time. We are very careful in filling these positions with people who have a solid, proven work history. We perform thorough reference checks, and criminal background checks. We hire, on the average, one out of every 15 applicants.

“I have also learned to never hire in a hurry. It almost always comes back to haunt you. We still hire untested employees, as I feel it is our duty to help those who have not had the opportunity to develop a good work history,” he continues. However, we always place these individuals in a supervised environment, until they have proven themselves. We still make bad hiring decisions now and then, but it’s not from a lack of doing our homework.”

The above article appeared in and authored by Stacie H. Whitacre and Dan Weltin


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