6 reasons never to hire a team member's 'mate'


Good staff are in short supply, but don't fill your mining vacancy with someone's 'mate' just because it's quick.

Mining’s ongoing skills shortage makes it all too tempting. You’ve got a vacancy you’re struggling to fill, or need to fill quickly, and one of your team tells you their mate would be perfect and would be interested in making the move.

But hiring someone’s mate through an internal referral doesn’t always lead to a sensible hiring outcome. All too often the important checks and balances of the due diligence process are skipped in the rush.

Here’s why hiring internal referrals can go wrong (based on what we’ve seen happen, time and time again).

‘Group think’ and ‘purple circles’

Hiring someone’s mate means you don’t get the same diversity of thinking within your organisation, as the two people will potentially solve issues in the way they’re used to (from the last time they worked together).

There can also be a tendency to overlook the input of others because there is less of a need to establish working relationships with others when you already have a mate onsite. This can quickly become a frequent occurrence, creating a “purple circle” that’s unlikely to be in the best interest of your organisation.

Favouritism and familiarity

The pre-existing relationship can see accusations of (and actual instances of) favouritism emerge from within the team, causing conflict with others. This can quickly lead to an increasing turnover of staff if not addressed properly.

It’s also common to see the person hired assume their standing from the previous workplace is the same in the new workplace, which can also cause conflicts within a team.


It’s important to know just how chummy the candidate recommended and the current employee or manager are. Could their working alongside each other have an impact on productivity? If they’re too ‘matey’, it’s all too easy to lose company time to conversation and mucking around.

Reputational damage and conflicts of interest

What happens when something goes wrong?

  • What becomes of the manager’s reputation if the recommended person turns out to be a complete failure?
  • What if there’s conflict between the staff member and their mate? Can it spill over from their private lives into the workplace, or vice versa, and what is the effect of that?

Expectations for future assistance

What about the message hiring a mate sends to the team? If a manager helped out a mate this time, would it be expected again in the future? Would they be expected to help other mates join the company, or help them with internal promotions?

Skipping due diligence

Perhaps the greatest worry of all is that mate candidates can sometimes be streamlined through the hiring process, skipping due diligence in order to save time. This can be a costly mistake in the long term. A personal recommendation is not the same as a thorough background check and vetting process. Would the person recommending their friend necessarily tell you they were previously sacked for misconduct or had a reputation for being lazy?

You might need someone quickly but the long-term costs of finding someone in a hurry could be far greater than the costs associated with waiting a week or two to find the very best person for the job.

Here’s what to do instead

The best way to ensure the quality of your new placements and make sure all your mobilisation requirements are checked off is to outsource the due diligence to a reliable recruiter—someone who won’t play favourites!

MPI has more than 30 years’ specialist experience helping mining companies find the best candidates across every job category. Find out more here or get in touch today.

Dan Hatch
Mining People International