Office Politics and Hiring

Opinions needed.

I am in the process of hiring a new employee. There are a few external applicants as well as one internal. The internal employee has been a contractor with the company for five years. I have worked with him and he is solid but not outstanding. I have not interviewed the external applicants yet so they are unknown.

Dilemma: There has been mild pressure from some colleagues (not reporting to me) to hire the internal guy. He is well liked and everyone would like to see him with the company as a full time employee (more $$/more security). I am hesitant because he has very little experience with my area of business. Also, many people worked really hard to get me this requisition to hire so I have to make the best of it.
Do I hire an unknown with the right qualifications or do I hire the internal guy that I will have to train? If I hire the internal guy, I will garner much good will from my colleagues (very valuable in the long term).

Office politics suck!

No sense in trying to figure this out until after you’ve done your interviews. Then, hire the best applicant, period. Don’t promise anyone anything, and when asked just state that it’s your job to fit the best applicant to the position. Perhaps when you interview this contractor for the position you can feel him out for his knowledge of what the job will actually entail. During this process he may come to understand a little better why he wasn’t chosen, if you decide to go another way.

Regardless though, give everyone a fair shake, and go with who you think is right for the job. You may get some flak about it to start with but ultimately you won’t regret it.

A known entity that you know is smart and a hard worker that you will have to train (assuming he is smart and a hard worker) is worth five guys that look good on paper, interview well, but in reality are unknowns.

You could get lucky with your external candidates and get someone qualified, bright and hardworking. Or you could get snookered. Has happened quite frequently in my experience that new hires don’t work out quite like you thought they would - that projects that they “participated” in in a minor fashion are highlighted on their resumes like they were major players. That they talk and write a good game, but don’t really have it. Or that they turn out not to like the environment or the commute or for some other reason what is a good fit for you, isn’t for them. This guy knows the commute is hell, that the company has its problems - and wants the job anyway.

Do interview your external candidates - and the internal guy. But do weigh the known (warts and all, maybe you know the guy isn’t bright and hard working, just charismatic).

This is good advice and my first instinct but our corporate atmosphere is one of empire building and cronyism. I find this ugly but I have to make a living. I have been resisting this direction for a long time and now I am considering the benefits of this way of doing business. Will I be able to live with myself if I sell out?

True, this is an important point to consider. Many times, it’s worth it to you to train someone for the position if they are already familiar with the environment. While you may have to expend a little extra time and energy, you have the possibility of ending up with someone who understands precisely what is expected - because he learned the job from you directly. Many times outside applicants will have to ‘unlearn’ an entire set of behaviors or directives when coming into a new environment, and it’s worth the time to train someone new that it would take to adjust a new applicant to the same position.

I understand this position all too well. If you are the one who will be working with this person most directly, then you shouldn’t let anyone else’s views sway your decision. If this is just a general hire, then you should take into account the overall good of the business. This is, after all, a business decision like any other, and often times idealism must bend to reality.

If one candidate is ideal in experience and knowledge but doesn’t fit the climate socially or otherwise, he is a poor fit for the job. Hiring is not just about finding someone who is adequately skilled technically, but also about someone who will ultimately become a seamless part of the team and the company environment. There’s a lot more than just qualifications on paper that must be considered. I don’t think that you would be labelled as ‘selling out’ by taking the broader company needs into perspective in this case.

I don’t know why you’d think of it as selling out if you made the best choice you could weighing all of the options and criteria, including office politics, known/unknown, training etc.

Office politics are part of the climate everywhere. Part of the decision is knowing when to play the game and when to “think outside the box”. The situation would be different if they were trying to push someone on you who was lazy, incompetant and had no skills whatsoever but that doesn’t sound like the case.

Make the best choice you can. That’s really all you can do.

Good luck.

My intensions are always to do what is right for the business. I think it is my corporate responsibility and my responsibility to the people who work for me. Unfortunately, I see many decisions made (at all levels) that are self-serving. Since there is no accountability in this organization, these poor decision makers are rewarded, people that resist are not invited to the trough. This is the game that I have been invited to play.

Good work-ethic is the most valuable quality that you will ever have in an employee. Anything else can be trained. Unfortunately, it is impossible to really determine whether an applicant truly has good work-ethic unless you can have qualified recommendations, such as the people from within the company that you’ve mentioned.

If your contractor guy is a solid worker with a good work-ethic (which it sounds like), and you believe that the skills needed for the job can be trained for, then hire him!

Alrighty then. I’m assuming you are a low-level manager and this is your first hire. On one hand, you have a loyal, hard-working temp (5 years!) who would have to be trained for this position but they are already very familiar with the company. On the other, a crap shoot of interviewing, selecting, and *keeping * a new hire that you will have to fully train for company and position.

I’d interview the temp. Intensively. See if his personalilty and work ethic are compatible with my group. That way, you’ve appeased the powers that be by honestly seeing if the temp would be a good employee for you. If he’s not, *then * open up to new hires. And good luck with that. We just hired four new professionals. Only two actually showed up on their first day of work. What new professionals we do get only stick around for 2 years before they leave for better paying jobs.

Not to be mean, but you may just be miffed that someone else is trying to influence your decision. OK Bosses suck. Politics are a nasty evil little power trip. Agreed. But you’re a manager so step up to the trough, hoss. Decide if you want to climb the company ladder. If you don’t care about being promoted, by all means, thumb your nose at the “game” and refuse to even consider this guy because you prove how superior you are. Your choice.

Champion of State Office Politics since 1989
and has far too high an opinion of herself to ever get promoted :smiley:

Not mean at all…good solid advise.

In 2008 office politics will be an Olympic demo sport. I have four years to train.

Thanks you all the good comments. Appreciated tx.

DeVena’s post reminded me of something - there is no guarentee that if the new hire quits in six months (or doesn’t show up!), the headcount will be reapproved. It was hard to get the req in the first place. Make sure the candidate is going to stick. Makes tempboy look even more attractive.

He’s been a contract employee for five years?

He doesn’t have a “base.” He’s not anyone’s pet project. He has no job security and depends entirely on someone assigning a new project to him when his current assignment ends.

This guy seems to have survived very well and learned his way around the company.I’d talk to every one of his project managers I could find and get the low down on why he was hired in the first place, and more importantly, why he was re-hired. Contract employees who don’t work out don’t usually get a second chance.

Now, it could be that he only performs well on a single task with a firm deadline, or he doesn’t have the long-term, strategic skills you’ll need for your new position. it could be that he doesn’t have and can’t develop the skill set you need. Finding all that out is a part of the hiring process.

But if he looks like he can work out, and you’re the one who hires him permanently, you’ll have someone who knows his way around the organization in your “empire.”