You just got promoted, and are on the committee to hire for your old position. You are unbelievably bored with or annoyed by every candidate until…you find “The One”. She’s smart, her shoes are from your favorite department store, she went to your alma mater… she’s just like you (guys adjust the above scenario accordingly). It can be tempting to hire someone that reminds you of yourself. However, it might not always be the best idea.
To begin with, it is never safe to assume too much about a candidate. Just because this person has a lot of things in common with you doesn’t mean s/he takes after you in a practical sense. For example, I would love to hire someone from my alma mater who majored in English. We’re smart, eloquent, and if they survived Professor Persnickety’s Vulcan Poetry class they have to be pretty awesome… but none of those things truly help identify a good hire. Having trivial things in common with a candidate can obscure their true value (or lack thereof) as an employee.
However, let’s assume that a candidate really is like you in a lot of good ways. They share your ability to keep a strict schedule, problem solve, and negotiate tricky client situations. Hiring someone with similar strengths and weaknesses still isn’t the best way to build a company team. A crew of different personalities and strengths is better for your business.
“If you’re an energetic idea generator but not good with details, hiring others who share that personality will doom your business to failure. You need to bring on a few sticklers who thrive on project management to make sure your big dreams actually come true. Conversely, if you tend to get bogged down in details, you might need a partner with “big-picture” thinking who can keep your eyes on the prize…”
So, how do you avoid hiring candidates just like yourself? Most candidates will interact with multiple managers before landing the job. If you think that a candidate is too much like yourself, fish a little bit in conversation with other stakeholders. Say something like, “I remember being in Sybil’s position like it was yesterday,” or even more blunt: “Dolly sure reminds me a lot of myself.” If your co-workers don’t pick up on it, you are probably safe to proceed with backing the candidate. You might just have a good feeling about them!
Have you ever hired someone who reminded you of yourself? Share your story in a comment below, or send me a tweet: @ithinkther4iamb
IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Victor1558