Hiring Someone You Know: Recognize the Advantages and Pitfalls

Finding candidates from within your established network is a great way to get talent. Understand the advantages and pitfalls when making your hiring decision.

The Benefits and Challenges of Hiring or Promoting Someone That You Know

Tapping into your personal and professional networks is a great way to find good candidates for positions in your organization, but there are pitfalls around that. So, in this video I’m going to be talking about the benefits and the challenges of hiring or promoting someone that you know.

One of the most obvious advantages to considering a person that you know is that you’ve had direct experience with them. You understand more about their strengths and their work style, their quirks even. You understand about their work ethic and integrity. If you’re considering this person those things must have gone well and you have a higher trust and confidence about them. Those are perfectly acceptable and beneficial aspects to your decision making. But, I want to caution you because that kind of knowledge can also be a tremendous liability when you’re going to your selection process, and I’ll tell you why.

Keep the Hiring Process Consistent

One of the first places that we have a hiccup here is that we have a tendency to want to change the process when we’re looking to hire somebody that we know something about versus hiring somebody that we know nothing about.

If we have a favorable impression of someone, or we’re getting just amazing accolades from somebody or about somebody, “Oh, the person was awesome! They did such a fabulous job for us. You are going to love them.” Then we start getting in our head, well we don’t need to do this part of the process, because we already have the data. I think that’s a mistake, because we are not allowing ourselves to get all the information that we need to make a good decision. An example would be not posting internally or externally, because we again think that we have the perfect candidate sitting in front of us. You very well may, but that’s not the point.

We want to vet this person thoroughly so that all stakeholders have confidence that you have hired the right person. When you go through a process of looking for other candidate and still come up with this person being on top that’s a clear indication that you’ve done due diligence to everybody and provides that level of confidence that you have made the right decision.

Recognize Logistical Pitfalls of the Internal Referral

The second pitfall is that we tend to minimize any issues that we have knowledge about or that we have an inkling that may crop up. These can be anything from a logistical aspect such as a longer commute that they haven’t had before, or compensation that doesn’t quite meet their requirements. Even though everything else is in place, maybe that’s enough that it’s going to be an issue in the longer run. Or it could be skills that aren’t an exact match and there’s concern on either party’s perspective about that particular area of the job requirement. Now is the time to have the honest conversation about these aspects so that both parties can make a very informed decision. And if you do forward, it also creates the foundation for conversation to resolve it and work through it after employment occurs.

Make Sure the Job Fits

The third pitfall happens in cases of promotion. This could be because they employee feels like that that they want to move up or the hiring manager feels that it’s a good fit. It’s terrific to promote from within, absolutely, but we really want to make sure we’re going to the exact same process we would be going through if we’re hiring from the outside because we want to be clear about the fit to the job.

If we put this person into a new role because of some sense of obligation or commitment to them based on their service to the organization over a period of time, but the job is not a fit, we’re creating a failure for the individual and the organization. We really need to make sure that were put in the person in the job for the right reason and that’s because it’s a good fit.

Put Everything Into Context of the Job

The fourth pitfall, and this one’s really big, is that people tend to take the information that they know either firsthand, or that they hear second hand, for face value and they don’t put it into context for the position that they’re looking to hire for. So, in other words, when a person has done really well in a situation, it’s great but will the environment be the same in the new situation that they are going to so that those factors can be replicated to allow the person to succeed.

I’m sure you can think of examples that would illustrate this. There’s one example I can share. I knew of an individual who had really built a reputation and his organization as being a challenger. He liked this and leadership liked this. Any work assignment or project that came up they looked to this individual to ask probing, intelligent, thoughtful, and very difficult questions of them. Fast forward to when, for a lot of reasons, he moved to another organization and this approach was not appreciated at all. He did not last long. Successful behaviors in one place are not successful in another. It’s your job as hiring manager to really look to all these aspects to see how the fits going to be in your organization for that position.

Hire for the Job

Remember just because you know somebody or that you’re hearing fabulous things about somebody doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be a good fit. They can, and it’s really valuable information and you should use it, but make sure you’re putting it in the context of the position that you’re going to be hiring for.

Be sure to check out other videos in the Learning Resource Center available to you as a member. Here’s to your graceful leadership.

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