How to hire a leader

how to hire a leader


Businesses don’t fail, leaders do – a lot.  Studies have shown that the rate of failure of executives coming into new companies ranges from 30 to 40 percent after 18 months.  The costs and implications of a poor leadership hire are enormous.  Given the odds, how can you hire a leader – a true leader?  Here are five tips:

Ask the right question

Just one interview question can give you enormous insight into the abilities and qualifications of the candidate.  The question: “Tell me about the last person you fired.” According to Marc Barros, co-founder and former CEO of Contour, this question and the discussion that will follow will give you the “strongest indicator of the candidate’s leadership ability.”  Specifically, the candidate’s response will shed light on their communication style and skills, their willingness and ability to admit mistakes, and the candidate’s level of empathy and emotion.

Conduct your own due diligence

When it comes to finding the next leader for your company, don’t leave due diligence in the hands of someone else.  Take the time to learn about the candidate, talk to people who have worked with the candidate in the past, and gather as much information on the person as you can.

Go beyond the typical interview

Going beyond the typical interview is revealing in that enables you to see the candidate outside of the canned interview environment (an environment which many have mastered).  Some ideas: have the candidate give a presentation, facilitate a meeting, or write up their thoughts on how to tackle a specific problem.

Opinions matter

Have the candidate meet with employees of various positions and levels within the company.  After each person meets with the candidate get their feedback – and listen.  It is amazing how often a candidate will let their guard down when they perceive they are meeting with someone that “doesn’t matter.”  The truth is that these meetings do matter as they can provide you with some of the best insight into the candidate and their leadership style.

Hire from inside

When you hire from inside your company, you will get a leader who knows how to succeed in the company’s culture.