BLUF – Role coming available.  Approached ex-colleague.  Current staff member questions the legitimacy of this approach without ex-colleague being fed through full recruitment process.  Is staff member correct?

I’ve started the process of looking to fill a vacancy that is to open up within my team in the coming months.  Given the vacancy I’ve approached an ex-colleague about the role as I feel that he is a really good fit.  He seems interested following a quick phone call earlier this week – so invited him in tomorrow for an informal chat.

I’m mentioned this to the outgoing member of staff and asked if they would spend some time with them to discuss the details of the role (it’s a technical roles – systems, servers, etc).  He felt this was completely inappropriate – saying that we should not be recruiting “friends”.

Having talked to him, I believe this stems from my own appointment.  I was effectively recruited in to the role by an ex-boss when my predecessor decided to move on.  His key argument is that he feels that the company deserves the best.  He feels, in my appointment, the company has no idea if I was the “best” available as no other recruitment was done.

From my perspective; I would say that if you know someone that would be a good fit – why wouldn’t you have a chat.  In the case of this particular ex-colleague I know he is technically competent AND really cares about his work and those that work around him.  Is this not more sensible than going to the jobs market and trying to establish fit using the normal interview techniques?

The currently staff member, giving him his due, does raise a valid point though about the legitimacy of the appointment – mainly from the perspective of the team around him.  If they feel he has been appointed based on being a friend rather than their own merits, then they have a much harder hill to climb in terms of convincing the team.

I’d be interesting in peoples thoughts.


mattpalmer's picture

Anyone who thinks that any hiring process is definitely going to get the "best" person available for the job has either never done any hiring, or has deluded themselves about their capabilities.  That is even assuming that you could ever hope to quantify exactly what "best" means.  The most important part of hiring is making sure the wrong people *don't* get in.  If you can manage that, "best" comes down to "everyone else".

On the other hand, the team does need to accept any new hire.  I would suggest getting the team to meet with your prospect, and invite them to come armed with their most devious questions.  There's nothing like making the new guy "run the gauntlet" to make him part of the team.

flexiblefine's picture

Good move on your part, having someone on your bench you can call on for this opportunity.

That should get him started, but it shouldn't short-circuit the regular process your company uses to bring people on board. Set up interviews just as you would if you didn't know this person. Since it's already gotten out that this is someone you know and prefer, setting up a team interview, as MattPalmer suggests, will help add legitimacy to this ex-colleague if you do bring him in.

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markbyantaylor's picture

Thanks for the great advice.

I have to admit that I didn't have any concrete plans beyond getting the ex-colleague in for a chat.  Given the appointment was likely to be a few months off, this was seen more as warming up (for him)/ validation excercise (for me).

But you are right to highlight the need for the team to buy into the appointment - and the "run the gauntlet" could prove interesting.

derosier's picture
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 You know the guy, knows he's good and have some idea that he'd be great for the organization. If you were to just hire him without anything more, then I'd see a valid concern. But, being a great MT manager, you'll chat with the guy, and get him to apply, submit a resume and go through the same interview process as anyone else. Thus no problem.

The fact that you have previous experience with the person's work-product is HUGE: the best indicator of future performance is his past behavior, and you have better knowledge of they guy's past behavior than any random resume you receive.

The direct that's complaining doesn't have a clue about hiring or anything else related to this issue. They need some feedback and possibly coaching on that.