LEADERS: The strongest people are easy to spot. They’re leaders. Leaders don’t just do their jobs reasonably well; they improve how they do their jobs. And whether they’re managing a team or not, they also help everyone they work with do their jobs better, too. You can use this Performance-based Interview to determine if your candidates are leaders, or not.

Everyone wants to hire leaders. But hiring these great people – especially those who have multiple opportunities or are truly passive – requires not only a great job but a different hiring process entirely.

At a recent Performance-based Hiring live recruiting workshop on how to find and hire leaders I asked the attendees to summarize what they learned in the full-day program that would meet the criteria for a great job and a different hiring process. Below is the collective wisdom of the group.

You might find this checklist useful if you’re trying to find some remarkable leaders to fill some of your critical senior staff or management positions.

A Checklist for Finding, Interviewing and Recruiting Leaders

  1. Ask the hiring manager this question when opening the requisition, “What does the person need to do during the first year to be considered an outstanding success?
  2. When you get the answer to the above, ask the hiring manager this question, “Would you at least see someone who has been recognized for doing outstanding work like this but who has a different mix of skills and experiences than on the job description?” This is important if you want to hire more diverse people and those with non-traditional backgrounds for these leadership roles. Here’s the legal justification for writing job descriptions this way from a top U.S. labor attorney.
  3. Read chapter 6 in Hire with Your Head if the manager doesn’t instantly say, “Of course!” This podcast offers another way to overcome hiring manager reluctance to be different.
  4. Write compelling job postings like this that are different, personal and customized. You’ll push your direct sourced candidates to these types of postings as part of a multi-pronged marketing campaign.
  5. You only need to source 12-15 semi-finalists if you’re using “Clever” Boolean. These are people who are top 25% performers doing the work defined in step one AND who would also see your role as a career move worth discussing. By spending more time with fewer people – as long as they’re the right people – you’ll be more productive while also improving quality of hire.
  6. Send story-based emails like this to get 75% of the semi-finalists sourced in step 5 to agree to a short exploratory phone call. (This is the LinkedIn version.) When it comes to attracting leaders, stories about the importance of the role are far better than lists of “must-have” skills, competencies, experiences and responsibilities.
  7. Ask this classic permission marketing question to get 90% of every passive candidate to agree to discuss the role to see if it represents a worthy career move. The idea represented in the question is to have a discussion only, not a sales pitch for an open role. You’ll move to the pitch part after completing step 8.
  8. Conduct career gap analysis to demonstrate your opening represents a possible career move. This involves conducting an in-depth Performance-based Interview while looking for a 30% non-monetary increase. This is how you position your role as the best career move.
  9. Overcome objections and concerns to convert interested prospects into serious candidates. Even if you’ve followed steps 1-8 exactly as described you’ll still need to handle common concerns about timing, compensation, titles, problems with the company and personal circumstances. This interactive tool provides instant rebuttals for the 30 most common reasons candidates raise for not wanting to move forward in the process.
  10. Get 2-3 strong referrals if your opening doesn’t represent a career move. Send the email from step six to these people while mentioning the person who gave you the referral and continue with steps 7-10. This is how you convert a stranger into an acquaintance and get a 100% callback rate.

Long ago I discovered that hiring the strongest and most diverse talent, aka “leaders,” required a different process than hiring everyone else. This involved how jobs were defined, how candidates were found, how the interview was conducted and even how offers were negotiated. Collectively, these ideas eventually became the Performance-based Hiring process I advocate and have written about for the past 40 years. But it all starts with the idea that if you want to hire a leader you need a great job, not a laundry list of skills, experiences and generic competencies that look like a poorly disguised lateral transfer.