Creating Auditions for Senior Managers

If you're trying to select a manager, you want one who fits your organization. I hope you've read my blog post over at Vistage. If you read the comments, you see I'm not into surveys or psychometric assessments. BTW,  I find it useful for me to know about myself, but not for others to use psychometric assessments for hiring.

As part of the interviewing, you do want to create an audition. I explain how to create auditions in Hiring Geeks That Fit. Here's the process:

  1. Define the behavior(s) you want to see. You did that in the job analysis.
  2. Define the audition that will elicit these behaviors. This is the tricky part. The more strategic the position, the harder this is.
  3. Test the audition with other people, to make sure this audition is useful.

Here's an example. Imagine you're hiring a VP Engineering. The value this person provides is in describing the project portfolio of the engineering projects to the customer base. You already have a CTO (founder) and a CEO (founder). This new senior manager will oversee the projects progress, but not micromanage. This manager will make strategic decisions about when to hire people. This manager will provide feedback and coaching to director-level people. It's currently a 50-person Engineering group. You want someone who can grow this organization to 150 people. What kind of an audition or auditions do you create?

I would create auditions in these areas: (Remember, this is an example)

  • Meta-feedback and meta-coaching. If you are going to hire that many people that quickly, you need to be able to provide feedback to people.
  • Customer presentations. How does this person interact with customers and keep them up to speed? What happens when this person has to give bad news? The project has slipped?
  • How does this person recognize when a project has slipped? How does this person know when it's time to address project process?

These are some potential areas ripe for auditions. You can ask for a customer presentation about current products, assuming you are not violating any non-disclosure agreements. Never ask any candidate to violate a non-disclosure. That's not ethical.

It's a lot of work to create an audition, especially for a manager. It's even more work for a senior manager.  The more strategic the position, the more difficult it is to create the audition.

However, if you do a job analysis, and forgo the psychometric assessment in favor of a customized audition, you will reduce your cost to hire, and find someone who will fit your culture. Of course, you won't have paid someone else a gazillion bucks. And, you won't be discriminating against someone based on psychobabble. Gee, Johanna, tell us how you really feel.

Okay, questions?

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