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What to do when the boss wants you to hire his friend

by on
in Your Office Coach

Question: "My new boss wants me to hire someone from his former company whom he highly recommends. When I interviewed the guy, I thought he was reasonably good but not outstanding. I don’t think he’s the best choice, but I’m not sure how to say this to my boss." — Feeling Trapped

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. 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

bush January 21, 2009 at 12:45 pm

It is best to create a spreadsheet to identify the qualifications of the position. then rank each person. If the ranking concludes that the boss’s pick is included in all of those under consideration, you have a better foot to stand on if that person is selected. If not, you are treading on dangerous waters. HR professionals must be just that, integrity is #1… If the boss’ chose does not cut the mustard, I think something should be said.

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