The hiring process can be a unique one. Whether the organization is large or small or simply a solopreneur looking for subcontractors, the question of who you hire for the job is not always black and white. In fact it is often multiple shades of gray. While I certainly would not condone hiring someone simply based on a personal relationship if he/she weren’t qualified the waters get muddier if they are at least partially qualified.

Let’s face it relationships play into every hiring decision; even if it is only a gut feel as to whether or not the candidate can build rapport with the person hiring. Many positions of power are had almost entirely on relationships. Ever wonder how the Presidential Cabinet gets filled? It is most certainly not a lengthy RFP process I would bet.

So, what would you do when faced with helping a friend out? Would you go out of your way to help her or would you put business first?

In the web consulting arm of my business, I work with several subcontractors to get the work done. I am not an artist or trained designer so when it comes to logo design and more elaborate branding concepts, I need to rely on the experts. That is why I have several outstanding people that I collaborate with – so I can deliver only the best to my clients. That is why I need designers who can not only design but also understand the web. Design for the web is not the same as traditional design for other media. In addition, I need someone with whom the administrative details will be seamless – they are easy to work with, clear on deliverables and payment, and a delight to communicate with via email and phone.

Recently a designer friend of mine asked me about collaborating once again (we did a few jobs together in the past) since she is expecting her full time employment to end due to company downsizing. She is very good at what she does – the art and design side. She is clueless when it comes to how the web operates design wise and is not interested in learning. Administrative details and email communication are not her strong point.

Now, let me be clear that if I had a volume of work that was overflowing and I could use 3 or more designers I would be happy to spread the wealth. At this time, I am very pleased with the working arrangement I have with the 2 folks I use. And, as a newer full time business owner, I need the process to go as smoothly as possible. Not to mention the folks I collaborate with support one another in a nice reciprocal and collaborative way when it comes to knowledge sharing and networking.

So, as much as I want to help this person out right now I cannot and let her know that. I did keep the door open for the future. It felt awkward because the friend and people-helper in me wants to do more, but my gut knows it isn’t the right time or situation.

I haven’t been in the position of hiring manager at any company but I am sure situations like this arise all the time. All things being equal do you go with Person A (with whom you have a relationship in some way or through a mutual colleague/friend) or Person B? Are you in any way swayed by the existing relationships? Does it make things more or less awkward?

How about you? What would you do? Would you hire a friend? A different candidate? Would your relationship influence your decision in any way?

Would love to hear your opinions and experiences in the comments.

Paula Gregorowicz, owner of The Paula G. Company, works with women who are ready to create their lives and businesses the way the want rather than how they were told they “should”. Ready to learn how to achieve success on your own terms? Download the free 12 part eCourse “How to Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin” at her website