Beyond a certain size of project and team there is a point where you, as a manager or director, no longer actually “do” anything. By “do” I mean actively work on actual, quantifiable tasks on a daily basis. We are, of course, highly busy but generally we're busy providing guidance to our staff, to reviewing their work and offering suggestion for improvement, mentoring senior staff and ensuring that the team functions efficiently.
Unless you are a complete masochist you will have learned to ability to delegate effectively. And with that ability comes the realization that while you can review and lead all you want, without quality staff, without talented and driven people working for you, you will never succeed.
Team building and staff hiring and retention are among the most important things we do as managers. Interviewing is an important skill and something most of us are pretty poor at. We do have a tendency to meander into the interview room, having (hopefully) had a look over the CV and possibly coming up with some pertinent questions. Over the hour or so of the interview we will make an attempt to make some kind of judgment on whether the person in front of us will be the superstar and project hero you need.
Unfortunately, and it really shouldn’t need pointing out, this approach is unlikely to separate the understated genius from the brash conman. We all believe we are brilliant at judging people, but when we’re busy, under pressure you need a more coherent and structured approach to staff selection.
Make friends with someone in HR. Get them to help with the interviewing process. They don’t need to be technical, you are looking for someone to judge something other than the candidates technical skills. The right person has to fit your team and company remember. And make sure you have a couple of technical staff to do some brief interviews. I’ve worked in companies who take recruitment so seriously you have to go through 7 interviews. Extreme; indeed. Thorough; definitely. Each interview was structured; each interviewer was given an area of expertise to probe. There was a set amount of overlap, to ensure there were multiple opinions. At the end of the process each interviewer emailed their results, using a structured form to all involved.
Failed recruitment is very expensive. Not only in recruitment fee’s, although they can be around £10,000, but in wasted time, in failed projects and recriminations. And as a manager, your reputation and that of your team rests on the quality of the people you bring in. And surely that should encourage you to spend a bit longer on the recruitment process.