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How to Know if Hiring Your Friend Will End in Disaster

January 18, 2017, 10:53 PM UTC
Parks and Recreation - Season 5
PARKS AND RECREATION -- "Halloween Surprise" Episode 505 -- Pictured: (l-r) Rashida Jones as Ann Perkins, Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope -- (Photo by: Danny Feld/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “What should you do when your friends ask you to hire them?” is written by Tai Lopez, investor and business advisor.

Some people have horrible experiences with hiring friends and family, but I tend to be okay with it. The key is to approach the process as though you were hiring someone you didn’t know.

Be logical about it—don’t hire someone just because they’re your friend or family member. Do they have the skills or personality to grow your business? Do you want to be around this person every day? What’s their employment or business history like?

Start by working together on a one-time project, which both of you agree will be a one-off. (This is a great exercise for potential business partners, too.) You need a clearer picture of their character in the pressure cooker of business. Maybe throw a party that they can organize. Or ask them to plan and execute a seminar or conference. You’ll be able to observe their attention to detail, how they work with others, and how they handle stressful situations. Do they procrastinate? Are they lazy? Are they chronically late to meetings? Do they ask you what you need? Do you have to take the time to point out too many mistakes? We’re social animals with human flaws. The key is to decode whether or not the flaws that you observe on a one-time project would waste your time, or even wreck your business.

See also: 3 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring Your Friends

Worst-case scenario: If the one-time project goes horribly, you only committed to doing one business project with them. And they probably won’t want a job with you anyway if the project was indeed a disaster. So you won’t have to fire them or say, “Hey, this isn’t working out.” It will likely phase out.

Best-case scenario: The one-time project goes well. But things can still be a little tricky. Say you hire your cousin or best friend for two or three months, but realize it’s not working out. If you decide to let them go at the end of the probationary period, it can still cause hard feelings.

I approach it logically. I’ll ask them to take three psychological tests before the trial period: 16 Personalities, HEXACO, and Dark Triad. The results show me if their personality is right for the hiring position; it will confirm the essential qualities I need, such as agreeableness, honesty, and humility. Most importantly, the results will uncover some of the darker traits, like Machiavellianism (a secretive, deceitful attitude), narcissism (excessive self-love), and psychopathy (a lack of empathy). I’ll also ask them questions like, “What book did you read recently?” “What did you learn?” “How do you feel about your past employers?” “What motivates you?” Having this kind of information saves valuable time and emotional energy from hiring the wrong person.

I hired my cousin as a three-month intern between her junior and senior year of college as a test. Then she became my assistant after graduation. Now she’s COO of my company, Knowledge Society.

 

So ignore the saying of “never do business with friends.” Instead, test the waters with a one-time project. If it goes well, look for deeper clues to their character. You never know: You could be one step away from your next great hire.