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How to Recruit & Select Leaders

How to Recruit & Select Leaders

The Occupational Psychology Group (The OPG) works with organisations to help assess and select leadership candidates as part of their recruitment process.

A common theme we find with some clients and organisations is that they see past experience as being a guide to future success. In a changing world this is an incorrect assumption and in many businesses, candidates have reached senior levels based on `craft skills’ alone. This paper outlines how to design an effective recruitment and selection process for recruitment and selection but equally for redeployment and restructuring decisions.

Selecting the Best

The OPG recommends that clients think carefully about hiring without having an appropriate and consistent process in place. `Gut feel’ alone is not a good predictor of likely success, nor is past attainment necessarily. Moreover, traditional interview processes rarely uncover sufficient data to make informed decisions.
Our process:

  • Before recruiting make sure an effective job and person specification is agreed having carried out a thorough job analysis. Ask questions at this stage around whether the leader is a functional or an enterprise leader who needs to contribute across the business beyond their immediate reports
  • Link the specification to the corporate values and behavioural competencies. See our white paper on linking values with competencies by clicking here
  • Design a consistent interview template for the first interview using STAR based questions. Traditional biographical interview questions alone are a wasted opportunity to really dig deep into a candidate’s application
  • After the first interview, shortlist candidates using the interview data
  • Before second interview design an assessment, process using psychometrics such as Hogan or SHL’s OPQ32r. We also recommend ability testing such as Scenarios or Verify from SHL. Read more here
  • Professional feedback post assessment is essential to provide context and validation for the assessment data. Leadership assessment is a specialist service which involves depth feedback and data which can be benchmarked to understand what looks good in a candidate. It also provides an opportunity for candidates to comment on and give examples of their behaviours identified in the assessment data
  • Best practice is to provide bespoke feedback reports for hiring managers which is bespoke to the role and candidate. Automated reports simply limit the information psychometric assessment provides

Do not be tempted to select unsuitable candidates or those who are unlikely to be suitable for inclusion in the organisation’s succession planning process. Good psychometric feedback and interview report data will give an indication of future as well as past success. Also consider whether the candidate can operate across function at the enterprise level as well as functional leadership.

Cost Effective

Online assessment is good value for money and starts at just a few hundred pounds for a basic assessment and telephone feedback project. More in depth face to face executive assessment or assessment centre formats will require greater investment but can still be managed cost-effectively.

Reduces Risk and Maximises Hires

More important than the modest cost is the benefits that psychometric assessment provides:

  • A consistent approach to selection which uses best practice assessment methodology and reduces bad practices and ineffective interview techniques.
  • Contextualised feedback helps the hiring managers to understand the psychometric assessment data as it relates to performance and potential as well as candidate input during feedback.
  • A consistent and objective approach to selection which is fair and objective.
  • Can be deployed for internal and external candidates.
  • The same methodology can be used for capability assessment for internal teams as part of redeployment or restructuring.


Recruiting at the senior level is much more than just a simple find and recruit process, it is about understanding how they can contribute at the enterprise level and be part of the succession plan. Traditional interviews alone simply do not typically uncover sufficient data around this and often are too focused on past attainment and not future potential.

If you’d like to learn more about our work please email me medavis@theopg.co.uk

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