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Would you allow an exiting employee to interview their replacement?

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Would you allow an exiting employee to interview their replacement?

Karen Lloyd employer, interview technique

It is more commonplace in recruiting marketing employees than you might think, and on the surface it can seem like a good idea.  Marketing departments tend to be environments where culture fit, and team ethos are very important.  Your team member who is leaving knows exactly what the job entails and what the team dynamics are like “on the ground”.

Here’s a question for you though.  Would you ask your ex-partner to vet your new partner?  Controversial perhaps, but it is a close analogy.

Objectivity

Just like relationships, leaving a job can be loaded with emotion for the employee, even if they are leaving on good terms.  Objectivity in such a heightened environment can be a struggle.  The chances are they will take an instant dislike to ideal applicants.  This is a natural instinct and they may not even be aware of why they are finding reasons to reject strong candidates.  Worst case scenario they leave you with no replacement, leading you to hire out of desperation (never a good idea).

Objectivity is even more of a challenge if the leave is of a temporary nature such as a secondment, maternity, paternity or sabbatical.  The instinct is to worry about job security on their return and the fear of “What if they do the job better than me?” is incredibly hard to overcome.  In this scenario you could end up hiring someone simply not up to the job due to their own insecurities.

Employee mark 2

You don’t look for an exact replica of your old partner in your new one, and you aren’t looking for a replica employee either.  Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and it is unlikely the job spec represents 100% of what they did on a day to day basis.  Starting afresh with an updated job spec and keeping in mind the strengths your strategic direction requires is a far better idea.

Getting them involved productively

This isn’t to say that an exiting marketing employee doesn’t have valuable insight.  Tapping into this via an exit interview (or jumping in on HR’s) is a fantastic way of doing so.  Although do remember they are unlikely to give you the whole picture, as employees generally want to stay on good terms.
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It is worth a try though, as understanding the deeper reasons for someone leaving can give you insight into your next hire.  It has the added benefit of helping with your overall marketing team retention.