How do you select the right candidate for your leadership roles? Are you recruiting and later discovering this might not have been the right person for the job? Are you recruiting and then needing to fill the post again when your new employee goes elsewhere?  These are problems that affect many organisations. Why does this happen – and how can we fix this?

Many of these problems are caused by traditional recruitment practices. These may have several pitfalls:

  • Applications are now usually submitted online. This can often be done with a single click from an online job board, so there may be plenty of applicants to screen before you can build a shortlist for the final stage of the selection process. Achievements and current responsibilities are often exaggerated. Software is available to help shortlist, but simply looking for words in the application that match those in the job and person specifications, won’t help much, while increasing the risk of excluding candidates with different, yet valid, experience
  • How strong are their leadership skills? Applicants who are leaders in small, flexible, organisations might fail in larger (more regimented?) organisations, and vice-versa. Are you asking for a degree and/or other professional qualifications? Does that tell you about the candidate’s ability for the role?
  • If you are relying on interview as a sole methodology at the final stage of the selection process, you may encounter several pitfalls. Interview questions are frequently predictable. Interviewer preference / bias can include or exclude candidates. Are they looking for someone like them, or someone like the previous holder of the role? Does the interview start well, with later poorer performance by the candidate overlooked, or start badly with the candidate dismissed as a serious contender too early in the interview?
  • References are unreliable as previous employers have little reason to warn a potential employer about a previous employee or retain an underperforming current employee.

A better way to recruit

There are several ways this process can be improved. Firstly, before proceeding to the final stage of the selection process do you want to screen candidates using online assessment tools such as psychometric tests (e.g., aptitude tests, ability tests or situational judgement tests and with leadership and job skills testing to measure their abilities?

Once you have a robust final shortlist of candidates, can you strengthen your selection process by using the assessment centre methodology, which can be conducted on a face-to-face basis or virtually. You can learn more about both here. (Lessons learnt from Assessment Centres, Why Virtual Assessment Centres are here to Stay).


Secondly, are you able to recruit internally? You’ll know a lot more about the potential, skills, and abilities of your existing employees. One of the best ways to manage this  is to establish and maintain a Talent Pool of internal candidates who you have proactively identified as being suitable for future roles in your organisation. Additionally, external candidates can also be invited to apply for specific roles and participate in the assessment process to be placed in the relevant Talent Pools. We have written about this here: Building a Talent Pool

ODRL provides innovative and evidence-based services to help organisations improve their effectiveness and performance. If you would like to learn more about using talent pools, assessment centres and virtual assessment and candidate testing, please contact Dr Kay Sahdev (