A selection and assessment consultant can help you locate your successor.

Been Successful? Looking For A Successor? Learn Everything You Need To Get Started Here

Written by on February 14, 2014


Recently, I have been working with a client who needs to find her successor. This can be a challenging recruitment task because
it calls on leaders to think about the qualities they bring to the role that have allowed them to be successful.



1. Clarify The Role & Ideal Candidate Profile

As in any recruiting situation, the key is to take a disciplined approach and think deeply about what the position entails and what is needed for the candidate to be successful. Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Does this job require someone who is a big picture thinker or someone who can drill down into the details?
  • Does the position need a leader who is directive and supervises fairly closely, or, someone with a more empowering style, who tells people what needs to be done, but lets them decide how?  (This should depend upon the skill level of the staff.)
  • What kind of people skills will be required?  Will this person need to be on the front-line, interacting with a variety of people developing new business or building profile?
  • Will they need to rally the troops and motivate them? Or, is a more detached style as appropriate, for example, to lead a team of experienced professionals?
  • Do you need someone tough-minded, to deal with difficult, underperforming employees or, someone more nurturing who can build the courage and confidence of a young team?
  • How much pressure does the job entail? How fast is the pace, how complex the problems, how demanding the management culture?

The goal is to look very closely at the position and develop a clear profile of the person who is most likely to be successful in it.

2. Design Thoughtful Interviews

Answering these questions is a great starting point. From here, you can create an interview or series of interviews that are designed to address criteria specifically tailored to the role. The key is to use behavioural questions as much as possible, to elicit concrete examples of the candidate demonstrating the required skill. For example, “Tell me about a time when you turned around a demoralized team?  What actions did you take?  What results did you achieve?”

3. Use Assessment Tools

Interviews are essential, but they may not tell the entire story.  Tools, such as The Attentional and Interpersonal Style Inventory (TAIS) bring more science into the equation. Widely used in selection processes in fields from the military to business and sports, TAIS measures an individual’s:

  • awareness of the environment and ability to react quickly,
  • distractibility,
  • problem-solving skill,
  • impulsivity,
  • extroversion and introversion,
  • decision-making speed,
  • self-esteem,
  • and other aspects of personality.

These come to bear in high-pressure executive roles, and organizations can use tools like TAIS to gain insight into beneath the surface characteristics that can make the difference between success and failure. TAIS, for example, reveals how decisive a person is, how long it takes for them to make decisions. This is an important factor when fast paced problem solving is required and the leader needs to make decisions without benefit of detailed analysis. The ability to switch focus between multiple priorities is another important criteria in many roles, one that is not easily determined through an interview alone. Inventories and assessments like TAIS lend “x-ray vision” to the process, providing a framework with which to analyze people and their “fit” to the requirements of the role.

4. Hire a Selection and Assessment Consultant

Hiring an assessment consultant who understands your needs and brings training and experience evaluating leadership candidates can bring peace of mind to the process. Their expert judgment and impartial perspective can provide an additional level of comfort that you have covered all of the bases and are making the right decision. If that individual is also an executive coach, engaging their services to provide onboarding coaching to ensure the new hire gets off to a good start in the role, could be money well spent. Or, you might engage them to advise you how best to work with the individual to ensure their smooth and successful transition.

Choosing the right people for key roles is one of the most critical challenges businesses face. Clarifying the role and ideal candidate profile, designing targeted interviews, including an assessment tool, and engaging a selection assessment consultant for help will aid organizations, and exiting leaders, in finding the best person for the job.