Many leadership qualities are apparent right from the first interview. If your candidate is articulate, shows evidence of being a good networker, displays critical thinking ability, and looks the part, you may have a winner on your hands. Onboarding the right person from the beginning will save you time in orientation and training. It also helps make sure they can be effective in the job. If you have plenty of good talent in your stable, succession planning becomes much easier and you will usually have a good candidate when a leadership position comes open.
Here are some tips to help you hire that future leader.
Competency is key for successful performance. Identify exactly what the job competencies are for a specific position, include them in the job description, and use those in the interview process. You’re also looking for general competencies that can be applied to any position, such as communication skills. Past performance is a good indicator of future performance. Look for indicators of excellent performance during the interview process.
A panel interview might be a bit intimidating to the applicant, but it’s an excellent way to see how they function under pressure. Bringing in other people helps you get a more well-rounded perspective of your candidate. Each person on the team can focus on the aspects in which they have expertise, while the others can observe as the candidate responds. If you’re hiring for a supervisory position, you might also consider bringing in staff people — their viewpoint is likely to give you insights someone in a management role may not offer.
Succession planning is critical to ensure the future of the organization. Even if no one on your staff is currently planning to retire or leave, that may change in the future. A candidate who seems a little over-qualified might actually be a good choice, particularly if that person has a broad range of skills that might be put to use in different positions within the organization.
Make sure you check out your candidate through your own network of professional contacts. You and all of your leadership team should make it a point to attend seminars, conferences, and industry activities with an eye to scoping out who else attends and whether someone might be a good potential candidate with the correct leadership training.
You should also look beyond your specific industry to the broader field of related businesses. Tools like LinkedIn are good places to look for shared connections. If a candidate has few or no LinkedIn connections, that may be a red flag, especially for a senior position.
The interview is an opportunity to get to know the candidate. Try a dinner interview, or go out for a drink. A social occasion may elicit more because the candidate relaxes. Always ask open-ended questions and keep probing on the answers. Someone who will not give you full information about relevant subjects is probably not a person you want in your organization. Work history can give you the bare bones, but if you ask how someone found a job and why they left, the answers may be illuminating.
Job skills can be taught. Integrity, however, should already be a part of an applicant’s character. You’ll find it very difficult to work with someone if you don’t trust them, or if the people who report to them don’t trust them. Work some ethical questions into the interview process and see what kind of responses you get. You should also discuss your company values and make it clear you expect the candidate to adhere to them.
Want more strategies for successful hiring? See What To Look For When Hiring Entry- To Mid-Level Employees.