When you’re looking to hire someone new, often the most important consideration is the “fit.” That is, you can train just about anyone with brains and some basic experience in the field to do the job, but you absolutely need someone who fits the company culture.
This is extremely important — having someone who doesn’t get along or share the same ideals with the rest of the group can cause havoc and tension and make life at work just darn uncomfortable.
That said, I think you should hire someone you don’t want to be friends with.
Let me explain.
Hiring managers often see the job interview as kind of a “first date” — with much higher stakes. If you have a good first date and decide to pursue a second, and it turns out that was a bad decision, then you’re out a few bucks for dinner and a few hours of your life. But if you have a good interview, you may mistakenly hire the person and end up having to spend 40 hours a week with someone who makes you want to stick pins in your eyes.
Because of this idea, managers often look for the same qualities in an employee that they would in a date, or rather, a potential new friend. But friends are different than employees and the distinction is critical to your business.
We often choose our friends because they think like us, like the same things we do, and laugh at our jokes. (At this point, I know some of you are going to indignantly exclaim that I am wrong. As proof, you offer up the political arguments that you have with your friends. I will just point out that this means that you both very much like the same thing — arguing about politics.)
This makes for great fun, but it’s not what you need in your business. You may need someone who doesn’t think like you do, dislikes what you like, and finds your sense of humor rather grating. Why? Because if you and your team agree on everything, you’re going to be looking at things from the same vantage point and you’re more likely to miss something — perhaps something important to your business.
Please forgive the cliche, but you need someone on your team who thinks outside of your box. (Unless, of course, you work for Ikea, in which case everyone should be highly focused on working inside the box, but I digress.)
You need someone who has some different experiences than yours. Someone who can explain to you that not all clients love what you love and brings qualities and perspectives you lack. You need someone who will point out that even though you love baseball games, not everyone else does and therefore your marketing shouldn’t be limited to supporting the local teams. This means that they can attract clients you cannot.
Hiring someone you hate, of course, means that you probably won’t be best friends with this person. You won’t want to spend weekends together or invite her family over for a party.
Good. Most employees aren’t looking for that anyway.
What you will find is a person who can see the other side of the story. As the boss, you can choose whether or not listen to their ideas and implement new strategies, but at least you’ll have the option.
This doesn’t mean you should hire someone just because she’s different. Like any other candidate, she also needs the qualities and experience and knowledge to do the actual job. And your new hire does need to get along with everyone — different doesn’t mean disagreeable.
But if you normally recruit alumni from your school, or friends of current employees, you might want to expand your reach. Networking is good — both for the job seekers and those hiring — but sometimes you need to make sure you look outside the network. It doesn’t hurt to post a job on the Internet, or sign up for a table at the local job fair.
Otherwise, if you continue hiring people who think just like you do, you’ll find yourself rapidly losing any type of outside perspective. And that box that you’re not thinking outside of will become much, much smaller.