Updated: Feb 14, 2019
I've heard a lot about finding the right “organizational fit” when hiring new employees. My question is a little different. Specifically, how do we develop good interview questions/hiring criteria to ensure a good match as we search for a prospective new HR director?
—Criteria-Challenged, HR assistant, telecommunications, Seattle
Hiring a new HR director is one of the most important decisions your company will make. In addition to being a strong “culture fit,” your HR director must bring the technical know-how and specific leadership competencies that will be needed in the future.
Your top HR exec plays a critical role in coaching employees at all levels, driving organizational change, shaping performance expectations and building people programs, as well as leading by example. Does your CEO know what changes will be needed from employees in the future? Your HR director must be able to demonstrate these new expectations while also coaching and influencing others to adopt them.
In addition to up-to-date technical competencies—such as knowledge and experience with best-practice recruiting strategies, compensation and benefit plan design, employee relations programs, leadership, and technical training and development—the HR exec needs to be a good manager of budgets and of the people who work as internal consultants to the organizations.
The ability to help organizations find their way through change is an advanced competency, and may not be as easy to find in a candidate as a good cultural fit or technical know-how.
As you prepare for candidate interviews, aim to get double value from interview questions such as these: What have you done to address your organization’s need for change in its employment practices?How did you go about installing new workforce health and safety measures? Where did you find the most helpful ideas for new programs?When you developed the company’s new pay-for-performance programs, what resistance did you face, and how did you handle it? You can modify any of these questions for other areas of HR where the candidate installed or updated programs, e.g., training curriculum, compensation plans, etc. The idea is to get a sense of technical knowledge and skills, as well as the leadership competencies that were required to match programs to business strategy, and to coach and influence others to accept the new programs and practices.
Structure the HR director interview to be sure the candidate has a good handle on the three key building blocks for success that are specific to the HR director role: technical know-how/best practices, culture fit and leadership competencies.
Finally, here’s a short list of leadership abilities you might want to consider as you build your HR leadership competency model: Strategic thinking abilityChange management abilityCoaching abilityCreativityDiplomacyEmotional intelligenceManagerial courageNegotiation skillsDecision-making skills, good judgmentResourcefulnessStrategic abilityTolerance of ambiguity