Questions You Should Ask Before You Rehire

Posted on November 19, 2012.

Many years ago I was in the process of rehiring someone who left for “greener pastures”. One of my clients told me it was a bad idea and that he had a policy of never rehiring someone who left voluntarily.  Unfortunately, I didn’t follow his advice and my rehire left again in less than 18 months.  Short of having a zero rehire policy, how do you determine when it might be okay to rehire?

People leave for many different reasons, so start there. Ask yourself:

1.     Were they part of a major downsizing?  If they did a great job but the position was eliminated, then you might consider rehiring.  You still need to look into past performance reviews and speak with former bosses.  But if they just had the bad luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, I’d rehire them.  They know the culture, many of the players and maybe they worked for you before so you know exactly what you’re going to get.

2.    Did they retire or take a leave? These days it’s not uncommon for people, especially women, to take a break in their careers to raise a family. Or maybe they retired early and got bored. Either way, you might consider rehiring them even if they’ve been out of the loop awhile. It’s not going to take any longer to get them up to speed than it would be to bring in someone new and train them from scratch. Plus, again, you know what you’re getting.

3.    Did they leave for more money? I’ll be the first to tell you that money is never THE reason someone leaves. But it’s likely they equated money with success and people do leave if they feel they can’t be successful. So before rehiring someone like this you need to make sure that a) their salary will not be out of the range for others on your team and b) you’ve changed the way people are rewarded so your rehire has the ability to succeed. If either or both of these are true, you need to take a pass.  They’ll just leave again.

4.    Did they leave for a promotion?  This is a tough one because you have to ask yourself, why weren’t they promoted at your company?  And why would they want to come back?  There just seems to be too many red flags for this person to be a good rehire.

5.    Did they not get along with their boss?  Assuming you weren’t their boss, this is a likely reason someone left.  I would speak to other people that worked for that manager, as I’m sure there’re two sides to the story. But I wouldn’t rule out a rehire.

The real challenge in rehiring someone is that you will likely have to pay them more money to come back and do the same job.  It encourages others to do the same, which is why my old client had a no rehire policy.  So if you’re going to consider it, ask yourself the questions above and then really think long and hard before you make the offer.