Should I Hire My Friend?
December 18, 2012 9:56 AM   Subscribe

Should I hire my friend?

My relationship with my friend is that we used to be really close family friends. Well, actually, I used to be good friends with his wife years ago. Since then, we've drifted apart a bit (don't see each other as often) but we're still friends.

This friend of mine is looking for work and needs to find something soon... the position I have open would be appropriate for him but maybe not perfect. He would definitely take the job and I'm sure he would do fine (he's qualified). Although I think there are probably more highly qualified people in the universe, it might 1) take forever to find the perfect fit and 2) I could probably close this qualification gap by dedicating myself to really training and guiding my friend towards success.

1) Is it ethical for me to hire my friend?
2) Do you think it's a good idea?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Generally speaking, we hire qualified people we like (or don't mind spending time with), so go ahead!
posted by KokuRyu at 9:58 AM on December 18, 2012 [7 favorites]

Fit is as important (if not more) than experience and skills at most jobs. Go for it!
posted by xingcat at 9:59 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you think he'd be good at the job, and you're not firing qualified people to hire him, it's definitely ethical. And unless you think your friendship will cause tension at work (and it doesn't sound like you think it will), it sounds like a good idea. Sounds like a win/win/win for you, your company, and him.
posted by ldthomps at 10:00 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

As long as you feel that he will fit in and be able to perform the job, and you won't mind being perfectly frank with him if he can't, I say go for it.
posted by Pecinpah at 10:00 AM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

the position I have open would be appropriate for him but maybe not perfect. He would definitely take the job and I'm sure he would do fine (he's qualified).

Sounds like a good fit. It's a good idea as long as the professional relationship takes precedence over the friendship.
posted by headnsouth at 10:01 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is basically how networking is supposed to work: "hey, you know anyone that is hiring?" "I am, can you do the job?" "Sure." "Okay, you're in."

If you think he'd be good at the job and is diligent/professional/whatever, go right ahead. Knowing someone's character before hiring them is a lot more valuable than their ability (assuming it exists, as it does. )
posted by griphus at 10:02 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

You need to check his references and put him through an interview process like any other candidate. Have someone he doesn't know do the interviewing. Just because he's your friend and you like him and think he's qualified and capable - well, that doesn't necessarily mean he'd be a great employee. Try to get an outside perspective before you commit.
posted by something something at 10:03 AM on December 18, 2012 [8 favorites]

1. Depends on what you do for a living and the nature of the company. I can imagine some scenarios in which it wouldn't be ethical (say, you are the producer of a contest reality show), but most realistic business situations I can think of -- especially situations wherein you can unilaterally choose to hire someone -- it's probably OK.

2. What are the daily ins and outs of the job, and how much do you enjoy this person? Will this be you and him in a room all day? Or is it more like you'll train him, then he'll be on his own in terms of workflow, or one of many employees in a large company?

My two concerns when hiring friends are: A) will they embarrass me or otherwise cause big problems, and B) how do you get along day to day?

In this situation, it sounds like A is fine, and B, well, that depends on what the nature of the work is and how much time you'd be spending together, as well as how much you enjoy this person. I have plenty of friends who I wouldn't want to work with one-on-one all day. I also have other friends who I have worked with in that way, and it really brought us closer together and part of why I enjoyed the work was because I got to hang out with my friend.

Also, what's the worst that could happen? Really, seriously think on that one. Worst case scenario is... what?
posted by Sara C. at 10:03 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Who gets mad if you have to fire this person and how big a problem would that be for you?
posted by rocketpup at 10:05 AM on December 18, 2012 [6 favorites]

1 -- Yes. Unless you work for the government or some company that has a hiring process that you would be circumventing, then it's totally ethical to do it.
2 -- Well... maybe. It doesn't have to go one of these ways, but it very easily could:
-- a) He's just not good at the job. You have to fire him. You lose a friend and your business suffers.
-- b) He's mostly good at the job, but screws up occasionally. You have to discipline him. You may lose the friend, even if your business doesn't suffer.
-- c) He's awesome at it, but he grows to resent the fact that you don't pay him enough for how awesome he is/don't let him get away with taking Friday afternoons off to see his kid play soccer/don't give him any equity in the business. See above results.

If you know that he's going to be really good at it and you'd be able to handle being around him all the time, then hire him. If you have any reasonable doubts, I'd skip it.
posted by Etrigan at 10:06 AM on December 18, 2012

Is it ethical for me to hire my friend?

I don't think ethics come into it. I think the question is, how do you feeling about firing your friend? I advise against this for the same reason I advise against lending money to friends. The problem isn't the lending/hiring, the problem is the expectations if things go wrong.
posted by Tanizaki at 10:18 AM on December 18, 2012 [6 favorites]

Can he follow instructions? Will he follow instructions from you and listen? What's his attitude? I don't think the friend thing is a dealbreaker, but it would be good to try to find out these answers because I don't think those sort of things always come up in friendship situations and we can sometimes overestimate our friends' competence from interacting in casual environments.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 10:28 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

How would you feel about having to discipline/fire your friend, if need be? If you can answer that, go ahead and hire him!
posted by Nightman at 10:31 AM on December 18, 2012

I think it is a mistake to do business with family or with friends. Rarely ends well.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:37 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Are you willing to lose a friendship? that might happen if you have to fire the guy. You don't actually know what his work will be like until he starts producing it.
posted by Solomon at 11:08 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I hired a friend for some casual work. He was very capable of the job, but didn't complete everything as we had agreed upon. It ended up affecting our relationship, and we talked very little afterward. I would have strong reservations against hiring a friend again, especially where I'm the superior and the friend is the subordinate.
posted by slogger at 11:17 AM on December 18, 2012

My best friend and i have both hired each other before and it worked out great! I say go for it!
posted by dawkins_7 at 12:25 PM on December 18, 2012

Ooooo... this is clearly an "it depends". My ex-boss hired his friend to build the company a new database; we paid a flat fee, he used the project to learn some new coding language... took forever and ended up being a total disaster for both sides. (We paid for something that was months and months late; he felt like he was working and not getting paid for how long it ended up taking, etc...)

Proceed with caution!
(Also, would you be managing your friend? I think that counts as an ethical conflict of interest. Do not hire a friend you need to "manage", ever. See AskAManager blog.)

What did work? A friend of ours got my husband an interview in a different department at the same company. He got the job on his own, and had no day-to-day interactions with said friend (who was managing a different department). They often had lunch together though. =)
posted by jrobin276 at 12:41 PM on December 18, 2012

If he has even a hint of being a flake or petulant, don't do it - run. If he's someone you'd consider trustworthy, then let him in through normal hiring procedures for your company. Since you'd have a good sense of his character, he'd have a clear edge.
posted by waterandrock at 1:28 PM on December 18, 2012

Can you fire your friend if it doesn't work out? If not, don't hire them.
posted by zanni at 3:16 PM on December 18, 2012

If you are supervising your friend, I would recommend against it. It is really awkward....well at least for me it was.
posted by couchdive at 5:34 PM on December 18, 2012

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