Posted on April 25, 2014

6 Tips for Hiring Managers and Top-Level Leaders

In a world where half of businesses struggle to fill critical positions, hiring for any position in your organization can be challenging enough—let alone hiring top-level managers and leaders. Unfortunately, the stakes are even higher in these situations. Managers are some of the most important hires you will ever make. Because of a leader’s widespread influence on the organization, the cost of hiring a bad manager can be devastating.

So how can you ensure you’re hiring the right talent for your managerial and leadership positions? Follow these six tips to avoid making the wrong hire and putting your organization’s culture, performance and reputation at risk.

1. Take your time

This first tip can be painful for organizations, especially they are trying to back-fill for a departing manager. While leaving a team without a leader for an extended period of time may be detrimental, it would be even worse to rush the process and end up with a bad manager.

2. Consider promoting from within

Do you already have an employee who could be a good fit for this position? Promoting leaders from within has many benefits. For instance, your employees already know and trust this person, he or she is familiar with your industry and culture, and hiring from within is typically more cost-effective than looking for outside talent.

If you don’t currently have anyone who fits the bill, consider implementing more training and development programs to groom high-potential employees for future leadership positions. It may not solve your current hiring issue, but it develops a pipeline of managers for the future.

3. Have specific and future-minded requirements

A thorough and accurate job description is vital to any hiring process, and even more so for managers. Here are four steps for creating requirements for the leadership position:

* Create a list of three to five overarching characteristics that would make a manager successful at your company. Stuck? Think of a current manager who has performed well in this position and use him or her as a basis of these characteristics.
* Write down what is involved in the day-to-day management today. If this manager started tomorrow, what would his typical day look like?
* Look a few years forward into the future to determine if this position’s responsibilities may change. If so, incorporate those newer elements to ensure a better long-term fit.
* Rank each characteristic and day-to-day responsibility in order of importance. This will help you prioritize what is most critical to your business and make the selection process easier.

4. Use behavioral interview questions

For managerial positions, the standard generic interview questions aren’t going to cut it. Try using behavioral questions to assess whether the applicant will be a good fit. Ask her to describe times when she was successful or exhibited the characteristics you’re looking for, and follow up with probing questions to paint an accurate picture of what she can do.

5. Screen carefully

One of the most important steps to avoiding a bad managerial or executive hire is to conduct thorough screening in each of the following areas:

* Education: Verify the candidate’s degree, graduation dates and any honors are legitimate. Degree fraud is more common than you may think.
* References: First, confirm that reference contact information is accurate. Next, speak to each reference and ask detailed questions about the candidate’s performance, experience and skills.
* Background checks: Consider using a third-party background screening provider to ensure the candidate does not have any past history that could reflect poorly on your organization.

*Bonus tip: beware of social media screening! Some hiring experts will encourage you to scour a candidate’s social media pages and use any findings to make a hiring decision. However, this could pose some legal risk to your company. Since you could possibly see information about an applicant’s race, religion, age, medical issues or marital status, social media screening could result in an employment discrimination lawsuit if you choose not to hire her. Proceed with caution in this area.

6. Keep the process moving

Once you have narrowed down the list of candidates, keep the process moving quickly to avoid missing out on top talent. The best candidates typically have more than one offer, and may accept another company’s offer if you are dragging your feet.

Keep in mind that a decision like this will likely involve the opinions of your colleagues, which tends to slow down the process even more. Many organizations have found success using an applicant tracking system to streamline hiring decisions.

Learn more about best practices for hiring great talent in our recent webinar, *6 Tips for Hiring Right


_Sources: Manpower Talent Shortage Survey, Eskill, HR Professionals Magazine, Entrepreneur.com

This content is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.