One of the hardest things of running a lab is hiring decisions. At least it is for me. My group is not so large yet (< 10 people), so we are pretty susceptible to the "dominant negative". If one person is a drag it can really slow things down. For everyone. I've been thinking about this a lot recently, because I'm in the process of hiring a technician. The first tech I hired I ended up firing, and that SUCKED. I really want to have a better outcome this time.
I had many, many applicants to the job that I posted, and I screened through CVs looking for those that had some relevant experience. And were able to write coherent sentences. I tried not to get too upset when folks claimed "proficiency in word"* or "excellent manual dexterity"** I narrowed down to about 8 that looked reasonable, and then I contacted references by phone. I feel like phone calls give me a chance to get somewhat "off the record" responses, and they take less effort than a letter. After talking to references I brought in four people for interviews. This is where things get difficult. There are two folks that I think would be good. HOW TO CHOOSE??
Seriously, I'm having a hard time here. Both of the candidates are fresh out of undergrad and looking to work in a lab for a bit before they go off for an advanced degree. They both have some undergrad research (not just lab courses), though one has slightly more experience here. All the references loved them, etc etc. I feel like it is now a crap shoot. No matter what I choose, it could be a disaster (or not), and one person is going to be disappointed.
I'm pretty sure it is bad for morale if I hire them both for a month and let them compete it out, Hunger Games style. Right?
*This is code for "I don't really know how to use computers but I can kinda turn them on and open really easy programs". ugh.