Hire slow, fire fast?

“This is one of those sayings that sounds cute and clever, till you think about it. Then you realise how damn stupid this is.”

Katy Howell | Founder | Immediate Future

How would you explain what “hire slow, fire fast” means?


I guess it means take your time to recruit and sack people who don’t work out, as fast as you can.

What do you think about this ‘advice’?


Here's what Katy Howell thinks about this advice:

This is one of those sayings that sounds cute and clever, till you think about it. Then you realise how damn stupid this is.


  • In today’s talent shortage you don’t have time to linger over 50 odd interviews
  • It is not about speed, but process and objectives in the hire. We found that by hiring beyond the skills required to consider matches to our company values, we fared better
  • If you are constantly firing people, your company culture becomes fearful and anxious
  • You can often throw the baby out with the bathwater – a skill can be taught if the values are aligned

Would you give this advice to other people?


Not really – for the reasons above.

If not, what alternative advice would you give to agency leaders?


Three pieces of advice:

  1. Build out your requirement to include a fit with your team and values
  2. Create a streamlined process that doesn’t kill those interviewing, but does make sure you can evaluate in an unbiased way (we use scoring criteria)
  3. Be good and kind to everyone you meet, employ and even have to fire. Sometimes this is not possible, but when it is, you would be surprised how much better you will feel about the whole process

Oh and one more. The guys at Lab had this great way of thinking about their staff. They said people joined them on the bus (the journey) and either went on, but sometimes they stepped off. It takes the pain out of people leaving or a necessary redundancy / termination.

How many interview rounds when recruiting does Katy Howell recommend? 


At least 2 – and often 3 if we do team intros. But most importantly we move fast to make them happen.

Katy Howell's bio

Katy Howell is one of the most influential social media experts in the UK and is the founder of social media agency Immediate Future.

Often called in as the UK expert on social by TV, Radio and the press, Katy Howell appears regularly on BBC news, Victoria Derbyshire, and Reuters, as well in The Telegraph, FT and Guardian. She’s considered the 4th most influential social media marketing expert, named one of the 25 women who have made an outstanding contribution to digital by the Drum, and was honoured to be amongst the Top 100 Asian tech entrepreneurs in the UK.

She speaks at conferences, runs masterclasses, and guest lectures at two universities. She’s co-authored 4 books on social, and is a regular contributor to the press.

Her expertise lies in helping brands deliver significant impact by breaking the social boring: using social data to springboard creative that delivers growth to business. Her agency works with brands including; lastminute.com, Princess Cruises, Selfridges, Mission Foods, Google, Diageo, OnBuy, Fujitsu, Sony Music, and many more. They win industry awards every year for their smarts and innovation in social media.

Humble promo of Katy Howell and Immediate Future

Katy is like the OG of social media in the UK. Only few social agencies have been around for as long as Immediate Future. That is quite an achievement as this space is ever changing and you have to build a really "adaptable" business to survive. Hats off to Katy and her team for standing the test of time in our industry. Also Katy is so straight talking, it's refreshing in a world where there is so much bullshit advice being chucked about. 

Daniel (Polymensa founder)

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