Hiring Friends Is a Big Mistake

high stakes hiring Oct 23, 2019

One of the most common practices in hiring is to hire friends.

Good strategy right?

WRONG! This is one of the biggest hiring mistakes people make. Believe it or not.

It can be a good strategy when you have gotten to know a person when working side by side, so that you know her work ethic, quality of work, production volume,  interpersonal skills, how she treats others, how she acts on a team, etc. Also, if she is going to work FOR you, you need to know how she will act in a subordinate relationship with you. When you know who she is at work, and that she will work well FOR you, it can be a very good strategy to hire a friend.

People have problems when they hire friends where they have absolutely no work history together. You may get along on the golf course, chasing your kids at the park, attending church together, or enjoying leisure time. You may discover that you have much in common and have similar values. All of this is great. For friendships.

However, until you have worked side by side with someone over a period of time that allows you to know her work style and how she treats and interacts with others in the workplace, you really don't know if she will work well for you.

I had a client who had a habit of hiring friends and family. She hired Betty because she had known her for years and she worked for another friend. She made her a director because that is what she needed - even though she had no management experience doing what she was expected to do. She hired Kayla because a good friend said she'd be great and she had a great personality to boot. She hired Sam because he had been a successful salesman in a completely different field. None of these hires worked out. None of them. And these are the tip of the iceberg for stories I've witnessed in people hiring their friends.

Here's what you need to do before you hire a friend:

1. Treat the person exactly like every other candidate, and let her know this;

2. Go through ALL of the interviewing steps, YES especially reference checks;

3. Include others in the interviewing and decision-making process; and

4. Make the offer equitable and fair, as you would for any candidate.

Be careful when hiring a friend. Treat them like every other candidate so that you don't hire based on the friendship alone.

Hire the most qualified candidate that is the best fit for the job in the long term. They will become a friend over time when you hire right!

What stories do you know of you or others hiring their friends?

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