Finding Top Talent Can Help Your Business Thrive
By Marilyn S. Nyman, M.Ed., CCC/SP

First the good news: with recession fears subsiding and your business outlook brightening, you’re now ready to rebuild or revitalize your leadership team with some fresh blood. And now the not-so-good news: finding the best person to fill a key leadership position is never an easy task.

A wrong hiring decision can have far-reaching impact on you, your leadership team, your employees and your shareholders. A good hire, on the other hand, could help propel your company from your current survive mode and into a thrive mode.

Here are a few tips to help you find the right person for the right seat on the bus:

  • First determine “what,” then “who.” Yes, you’re very busy, and so is the rest of your team. No doubt, you’re tempted to dust off an old job description and try to find, as quickly as possible, a person who fits that description. Resist the temptation. You can’t delegate the job of finding a new leadership team member entirely to your existing leadership team or the Human Resources department. Take a deep look. What are your expectations for this team member? What’s your vision for the company — and what role do you see this person playing in your vision?
  • Lead – don’t delegate – the search. You need to actively participate in the search. One of the biggest mistakes a CEO can make is staying out of the search process until the final interview. You can work closely with your HR/employment team to ensure that you will be presented with the best candidates for interviewing. Use social and professional contacts to stay abreast of what’s happening in your industry, and tap into these same contacts to find appealing candidates for your open leadership position.
  • Interviewing: the art of the question. It’s counter-productive to dust off the same questions that candidates have heard time and again. Develop new questions or refresh old questions to help you bring out a candidate’s character. Tailor the questions to the type of person you are looking for. A good idea: use the formal part of the interview to test knowledge, business skills, and industry savvy; the informal portion helps screen candidates, above all, for cultural fit. (Take the candidate to lunch or dinner with another member of your team and observe how he/she interacts with you, the colleague and even the wait staff.)

As the economic picture brightens, you must anticipate what you need to stay ahead of the curve to achieve a competitive advantage. A new, post-recession business environment calls for new thinking, which includes the right leadership team. Take an active role in the selection of new executives you are expecting to help accomplish your business plan. Finally, here are Nyman Group’s recommendations for five great interview questions…

Five Great Interview Questions

These are for illustrative purposes only, but you can see how answers to these questions would help you dig deeper than the standard (dare we even say, stale) interview questions.

  1. Tell me your story.
  2. What makes you think you fit well into our organization?
  3. How would you define success in this role?
  4. In your opinion, what are the major challenges facing our industry over the next 3 years?
  5. Are there any questions you would like to ask us?