Can You Objectively Interview and Hire a Candidate You Know Personally?
(updated November 5, 2021)
Hiring the right candidate for the job is challenging. Knowing whether or not you should hire someone you know, however, is far more difficult.
As a professional, you have most likely encountered a situation where you know one of the applicants who is applying for a job in your department or at your company. Whether they are a close friend, or loved one, or merely a casual acquaintance, finding the right balance between on-boarding a qualified worker and working with someone you enjoy being around or know you can trust, is extremely tricky.
What are the disadvantages of hiring someone you know?
The general rule of thumb is to avoid hiring someone you know personally, especially if you will be their direct overseer, according to Monster. Though, if you know of a terrific applicant or believe that he or she would be the right fit for your company, this should not dissuade you from hiring your friend or acquaintance. Monster writes that defining roles, responsibilities and financial compensation upfront will help avoid potential problems down the line. Even if you know the applicant, you should follow a defined process to make sure that all candidates are considered equally for the job.
Having to tell a friend you hired that they are not performing up to par or reprimand them for certain behaviors can be very uncomfortable. Essentially, whenever you have a level of seniority over someone you care about, it may be challenging to remain objective and address troublesome behavior.
For example, imagine you hired two equally qualified individuals, only one is a complete stranger, while the other is a long-time friend. Most would agree that if a project goes awry, it would be easier to inform the stranger that they need to improve his or her performance, rather than telling the friend the same news. However, if you are clear with all applicants – including the ones you know – before they begin work what your expectations are, both you and your employee will be on the same page.
No matter how qualified or unqualified your friends are, you will likely be drawn to their application. On one hand, if they have the necessary experience, you can hire them and remain professional in the office regarding their work. Meanwhile, if you choose not to pursue hiring them – even if they are viable candidates – or discover that they are not up to your standards, turning them down can be uncomfortable as well. If they are a strong applicant, however, there are a few strategies to try to ensure you are being completely objective.
“Be completely honest with yourself.”
How can you objectively hire someone you know?If you work at a small company, you want to hire someone you trust or can rely on, which is why you may be considering a close friend for an open position. Meanwhile, the applicant you know may simply boast a strong resume and work experience. If you find yourself in this situation, know that it is not entirely impossible to hire a friend. However, you must be cautious and remain objective throughout the entire process.
- Vet a wide variety of qualified candidates. Unless your acquaintance is clearly the best candidate from the start, keep your hiring pool open and wide, until you know that there is no one better suited for the position. You may discover that there is someone more qualified, or become more confident that you are right by hiring this candidate who you know.
- Always have someone else in the interview room. If you are interviewing someone you know, you must have someone else in the room, or even hand the reins over to someone else entirely. This way, no one will question your decision should you hire your friend and the second interviewer will let you push past your own biases.
- Use the hiring tools to help objectively measure each applicant’s ability. Pre-employment tests, references and background verification for education and employment will help you better understand each applicant’s unique abilities and skill set.
- Check your personal preferences at the door. If you have followed Monster’s advice and clearly defined roles, responsibilities and expectations before any candidates apply, you will be able to easily avoid falling victim to personal preferences. Don’t jeopardize your career and their options because you enjoy their company. Cover up your candidates names during the hiring process to ensure that you will hire the right person for the job, regardless of your personal history with them.