Marie's Answer: This is definitely a political minefield. If you criticize the person your manager wants to hire, you are implicitly criticizing his judgment. But if you employ a second-rate candidate, you may be enduring second-rate performance for a long time.
As you walk this tightrope, here are some points to consider:
• Focus on job requirements instead of personalities. Agree with your boss on the top objectives for this position, and then discuss the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve those goals.
• Next, ask for your manager’s assessment of his former colleague: “Since you’ve worked with Fred, how well do you think he matches our job requirements? What do you see as his strengths and weaknesses?”
• Finally, review qualifications of all the applicants. If you have a favorite, highlight the value that the person could bring to the position. Focus on your contenders' strengths, not the deficiencies of your boss’s candidate.
If your manager remains adamant about bringing in this guy, then welcome him warmly, be thankful that he is “reasonably good,” and do your best to help him succeed.