Hiring friends has been a topic that has been discussed a lot, and not everyone's positive to the idea. We've chosen to see for ourselves what it could bring us in the long run.
I’ve worked over 4 years with recruitment, and hiring friends have always been a sore topic. I’ve gotten advice on the topic from a lot of people and my dad would say «You’re putting your friendship at risk». In contrast, studies show that friends at work receive more praise, they are more productive and stay 50% longer at a company. I have a theory that if you ask the right people to recommend others, you’ll get the right people. If you ask your bottom performer to recommend a friend, I won't be surprise you’ll get another bottom performer. In addition, it's an idea to evaluate your employee's general judgement before you ask them for to evaluate others. We based our choices on these ideas and some studies and initiated the Buddy Recruitment Program.
In recruiting theory, studies have shown that the single best indicator of great job performance is integrity. Not brains. Not even current skills. Integrity. The problem is that it’s really hard to measure, harder than cognitive levels, skills or even personality. Psychologists are constantly trying to pin this down, with their eyes on the pot of gold in the other end, but it still seems to be tricky to measure in a realistic amount of time for a recruitment process. So how can I figure out if people have high integrity? I can try to rely on tests, clever questions and my own social skills to determine, but I know too well that I’ll lose out on great candidates and hire some wrong ones if I do.
You know your friend. She/he will give you a lot of info over the years that you can process. You talk about things that annoy you, things that make you uncomfortable, things that motivate you or make you happy. And you talk about work, usually without any filter. If your friend ditches work because he’s feeling lazy and let his/her colleagues pick up the slack, you’ll know. And if you hire this friend, you know you’ll be the one picking up the slack.
I’m one of the buddies. I’ve known our CTO for a long time, and we’ve worked together, but in separate companies for several years. He’s one of my few friends I’d like to work with, and for us, it works. Since I started, I’ve asked people for referral tips, and I’ve gotten lots of buddy material in return. We ended up with 7 buddy recruitments through the past 9 months, and so far it’s been a huge success. It looks like we’ve managed to hire «integrity clones» of some of our best people, and that’s more than we could ask for. It’s also a good sign that they want to recommend their friends to work here, and that Geta is willing to hire them. Only time will show the long term consequences, but I’m definitely optimistic. I will update this post in 6 months.
Update after 6 months:
The trial periods have ended and performance have been observed over a longer period of time. Based on feedback from colleagues and managers, the overall performance of this group has definitely been above average, and would be considered a success. We're actively looking to expand this group to get more top performers and it'll be interesting to see if we can keep up the trend.