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Yes, as a manager you shouldn't become friends with your reports anyway. It happens but it always complicates things. If for no other reason then you have a perception issue with your other reports that you don't have a relationship with. Did your friend get a promotion because they're good or your friend? Did they not get the promotion because they're your friend and you're worried about optics?

This doesn't even touch even more difficult situations like when your friend messes up and needs to be dealt with in a professional but non-personal manner.

So yeah, hire the better coder.

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