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Engineering Hiring Mistakes

Tales of Hiring Mistakes

While most of the book The Complete Guide to CONSULTING ENGINEERING is a how-to guide, some of it is also a “how not to” or more of a “learn from my mistakes” guide.

In the book you’ll learn the secrets of interviewing prospective employees and how to make an offer. But you’ll also find out what to do if you make the wrong choice and firing is necessary.

I have lost track of all the employees who came and went in my over 35 years of practice. Fortunately, most of my employees were terrific and did much to enhance the company’s image and reputation. Unfortunately, not all of them were good hires. Some were engineering hiring mistakes.

I remember a project manager who was with me over six months and seemingly doing a fine job. He called me at home one morning at 6 am, waking me up. He told me that he was a CIA agent and his partner had been killed and he was leaving on a 7 am flight to avenge the death and wasn’t coming back. I have no idea what the real story was, but I wished him well.

Another fellow started out as a draftsmen and left after about a year to work for one of my competitors. After a couple of years he returned as a project manager. After a while his work was so good that I assigned him as project manager on our largest, most important project. We discussed the project periodically, but I trusted him enough that I didn’t yet review the drawings. When the project was reportedly 80% complete I made an appointment with him to review the drawings and to write the specifications. He didn’t show up for the meeting, quit, and would not return our calls. The job was in fact about 40% complete; I had to re-assign the project; all of my staff had to put in overtime; the architect had to ask his client for a time extension; and we lost a lot of money on the project.

You’re going to make mistakes in hiring for your practice, but you’ll hopefully learn from those mistakes and the ones I’ve made. An effective employment interview and a background check are essential to making the right choice. You’ll learn more about human resources for consulting engineering firms, and much more in my new book The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING. Order at and use coupon code “paperback” and save.