Should I Hire an Employee’s Friend?

Your company recently posted an open position. Within the hour, an employee knocks on your door breathless with excitement. They have a friend who would be PERFECT for this job. Should you consider their suggestion or stay as far away from this situation as possible?

The correct answer depends. A referral could be fantastic, or they could be terrible. And if they are a disaster, you’re facing a whole new level of hiring drama. Both your employee and the candidate are going to take rejection more personally when friendship is involved.

So, how can you enjoy the benefits of recommendations while continuing to bring in top candidates?

3 Steps to Take BEFORE Hiring an Employee’s Friend

1. Define and Clarify Your Referral Policy

Many companies use employee referral programs as an effective part of their overall recruiting process. This can be a smart tactic. After all, friends are known quantities. Employees are unlikely to recommend someone who is incompetent or difficult. In addition, referrals can be a better culture fit because they already have a connection with your organization. The problems start when companies fail to explain their policy clearly. Specifically, let your employees know that while you encourage and appreciate referrals, a recommendation does NOT guarantee their friend will automatically get the job.

2. Evaluate Friends by the Same Standards as Everyone Else

If you hire an employee’s friend without running them through the entire hiring process, you take two primary risks. First, you could end up with someone who is not qualified. Second, you may lose out on your next superstar simply because you didn’t bother to look at all the applications. Referrals need to submit a resume just like everyone else. If their application is strong, move them to the next step. If not, thank them for their time. The interview process can be trickier. Even if the employee who referred them isn’t on the interview committee (and they probably shouldn’t be), other people are sure to realize this is someone’s friend. To avoid unconscious bias, think about using work sample tests or experiential interviews to observe firsthand if the candidate can do what the job requires.

3. Assess the Possible Working Relationship

Let’s say, your employee’s recommendation came through. This candidate is, in fact, your top choice. As the last step, consider the friendship/working relationship. If the two people are colleagues, this should be fine. However, if one person will have a supervisory role, you’ll want to investigate further. Ask your current employee some hard-hitting questions. Are you comfortable taking/giving orders from/to this person? What if one of you had to ask the other for a raise and the answer was No? Watch for their reactions to these scenarios. If you sense hedging or hesitation, this could signal trouble ahead.

Could Your Organization Use Help with Hiring?

FirstStaff has been working with businesses across Arkansas since 1973. Our professional recruiters can assist you in finding the talented, qualified and reliable candidates you need. If you are ready to solve your staffing challenges, give us a call today!

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