Last updated: October 19, 2020
Don’t hire your family or your friends
Most of us know someone that needs a job – often in our immediate family or circle of friends. However, as a new manager, you are still establishing your own authority as a supervisor. Your coworkers will already have a difficult time adapting to your new role as their boss, don’t make things harder for yourself by trying to introduce personal complications into an already complicated situation. There will come a time when you might be able to extend a job offer to a family member or friend, but as a new manager, now is not the time.
Don’t be fooled by dazzling resumes
Accurately interpreting the information contained on a resume is an art form that takes many years of practice. Seasoned managers know that what a person says about themselves and the reality of who they are as an employee are often two very different things. Until then, look for someone who has good, basic qualifications, but doesn’t seem “too good to be true.” The likelihood is that if they seem to good to be true, they probably are.
Don’t hire someone you are attracted to
Right up there with hiring family members or friends is hiring someone you have a romantic or personal interest in. Doing so will just open the door to all kinds of complications that you would do best to take extreme measures to avoid at the outset of your career in management. There may come a time when you will know how to appropriately deal with an employee you have an interest in, but you need to have an established reputation and a world of management experience before that even becomes an option.
Don’t be fooled by a dazzling interview
The same way people can look great on paper that are disasters in real life, there are also people that will dazzle you in an interview but disappoint in the long run. They will charm you, delight you and make you eager to give them a job. Then they will keep right on charming and dazzling you every time they make a mistake, mess up or screw something up royally—which they will often do since they rely more on personal charm than skill to get what they want in life. Look for the person who is eager, yet earnest, but doesn’t oversell themselves. If anything, you’re better off hiring a person that might sell themselves a little short than someone who seriously oversells what they have to offer.
Be aware of your own prejudices
Ultimately, as human beings we are drawn to people who are like us in some way and distance ourselves from people we consider to be “different” from us. Ultimately, some of the best team members you will ever have are going to be people that are not like you at all. Before you begin the process of even looking at resumes, it’s important to honestly acknowledge we all have prejudices. It’s not a question of whether you have them, it’s a matter of whether you have acknowledged to yourself what they are. It might be a prejudice against people with tattoos and piercings, it might be a prejudice against gay people, Muslims or the elderly, but we all have prejudices. The best way to combat those prejudices affecting your hiring choices is to be brutally honest with yourself from the outset about exactly what they are.
Don’t overemphasize diversity
On the other end of the spectrum, new managers can also make disastrous hiring mistakes simply out of their desire to not appear prejudiced. If you happen to be a white man, don’t be afraid to hire a white man if he is genuinely best for the job. On the other hand, if you have several well-qualified candidates to choose from, it might be wise to hire someone who is very different from you, since some of the highest functioning teams are often comprised of people who bring a number of different skills and outlooks to the table.
Understand exactly what you are looking for
Google became famous for their “creative” and off-the-wall interview questions like “how many golf balls can you fit on a school bus?” Too many rookie managers try to emulate this model without fully understanding the purpose of asking these type of questions. Don’t over-complicate things. If you’re looking for a receptionist, you may want someone who is bubbly, outgoing, well-dressed and great with people, but if you are hiring an accountant, those qualities are not necessarily pertinent to the job. Asking an interviewee for a receptionist position how many golf balls they can fit in a school bus is simply inane. Don’t do it.
Check background and work history
As the old saying goes “talk is cheap” and ultimately, in both an interview and on a resume, people can say whatever they want to about themselves – but it doesn’t make it true. While laws are getting stricter about what former employers can and cannot say about a former employee, there is still a lot you can glean from speaking directly to their previous supervisors or other references. In many cases, references will be surprised they were used as a reference and in other cases, the person may not even exist. For that matter, both pre-employment and random drug testing can be of great value. At this moment, the person you are hiring is a total stranger. It’s important to not simply take the word of a total stranger until they have proven they can be trusted.
Understand your team dynamics
It’s crucially important to understand the dynamics of your team and how a new hire will affect them. If your team bonds socially outside of work without you, it sometimes means the team is actually following a leader that is not you. If that unofficial leader is leading them well and you have a high functioning team, then hiring a new person that fits in well with those dynamics may be a good thing. On the other hand, if the “unofficial leader” is actually hampering the effectiveness of the team, it might be wise to hire someone who doesn’t fit and can “break up the pack” so to speak.