HR dilemma: Should you hire a friend?

by Human Capital12 Mar 2014
Anyone can recommend a friend or partner for a job within their own organisation – but when you're the one making the hiring decisions, is it really a good idea considering someone you have a personal relationship with?
Naturally, anyone who recommends a person for a job in their company will have additional insight or organisation-specific knowledge that may not be in the public domain.
As to whether the recommended candidate gains an unfair leg-up, a selection criteria should eliminate any personal bias and ensure that the victorious candidate is appointed based on their ability, not their connections, says Marnie Ashe, head of consulting and HR representative for Reload Consulting.
“If the person making the hiring decision knows the candidate, then having two or more people involved in interviews and the selection process will allow for [fair] evaluations,” she added.
“Ultimately, as the HR manager, you will be the one dealing with the ramifications if the staff member isn’t the right cultural fit for the organisation, or doesn’t have the skills or experience to perform in the role.”
The ramifications could be as simple as a few tense conversations, or as significant as the end of your friendship – or, your reputation in ruins at work over a bad hire. Consider the plight of these people who will not likely venture down this pathway again:
  • “I once hired a friend and I soon realised she was completely different socially compared to in the office: she was opinionated, moody, rude to junior staff and hopeless at meeting deadlines. She was the complete wrong fit for our company culture and thankfully, she resigned within 12 months – after which she refused to talk to me, and organised get-togethers with mutual friends, purposefully excluding me. Never again!”
Christina, HR director, WA
  • “I knew my company was looking for a new conveyancing lawyer, so I recommended a friend from university. He got the job and I was happy, because I was up for $5,000 referral bonus! The problem was, he was terrible at his job and settlements were constantly delayed because he was so disorganised. Worse for me was that he left after nine months, so I never got my bonus.”
Gerard, lawyer, Queensland
  • “Many years ago, I switched retail jobs and after raving about how great the pay and conditions were, a friend made the move too. My employer asked me to train him and it was really uncomfortable. He was so awkward about the temporary switch in dynamic that he undermined me constantly and challenged me on every little thing. It did impact our friendship and I’ll hesitate before recommending a friend again.”
Amanda, store manager, Victoria
Have you ever hired a friend? Share your stories with HC…


  • by Leanbe Faraday-Brash 12/03/2014 1:30:43 PM

    If you know them to be fabulous at what they do, as a minimum, make it clear you are putting them up for consideration but
    1) Don’t have the final say in their employment;
    2) Don’t have them report to you and
    3) Make it clear at work you are colleagues, not BFF's and work hard to manage others' perceptions around any type of favouritism as staff are likely to be anxious about it with or without evidence.

  • by Gopal K Garg 20/03/2014 7:33:54 PM

    No issues in hiring a friend-Only thing which needs to be taken care of is "Be Affront/Professional in providing details or expectations from the role to him/her.You need a good employee-Friendship starts after 6.00pm till 9.30 am..

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