A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Hiring Partners and Practice Group Leaders in Professional Services Firms

This article will outline a step-by-step, do-it-yourself approach to hiring partners or practice group leaders, emphasizing the importance of establishing role clarity to support the creation of effective job descriptions, candidate filtering, interviewing, and scoring.

Hiring the right partners or practice group leaders is essential for the growth and success of professional services firms. The process requires meticulous evaluation to ensure candidates not only possess the necessary skills and expertise, but also align with the company's culture and values. Here's a DIY guide to help your team identify and hire the next partner-level hire for your team.

Defining the Business Problem and Role Clarity:

Before embarking on the search process, it's essential to establish the need for the new role and determine the specific problem the candidate will solve within the company. Consider the following questions to gain a clear understanding of the role, along with explanations of why each question is important:

Why is this job necessary right now?
Understanding the current need for the role helps identify the urgency and priorities for the position and ensures resources are allocated effectively.

What are the business reasons for the job?
Knowing the business reasons behind the role ensures that it aligns with the company's overall objectives and contributes to its success.

What are the economic reasons?
Assessing the economic rationale helps determine whether the role is financially justifiable and whether it will generate a positive return on investment.

What are the required skills needed to succeed in this role?
Identifying the essential skills ensures that you attract candidates who possess the right capabilities, increasing the likelihood of success in the position.

What are the activities they will be responsible for on a daily/weekly basis?
Outlining key responsibilities clarifies expectations for both the hiring team and candidates, enabling better role alignment and performance evaluation.

What does success in this role look like over 1-24 months?
Defining success metrics and timelines allows for clear performance tracking and helps candidates understand the expectations for their performance.

What is the expected career path?
Outlining potential career paths attracts ambitious candidates who seek growth opportunities and helps retain top talent within the organization.

How can we identify the right person for this role?
Considering the necessary skills, cultural fit, and long-term potential, this question encourages the development of a comprehensive hiring strategy to find the best candidate.

How does this role fit within the company's culture and values?
Ensuring alignment with the company's culture and values helps to maintain a cohesive work environment and increases the likelihood of a successful hire.

How does this role add value to the suite of services or support other practice groups and their leaders?
This question helps determine the role's broader impact on the organization, ensuring that the candidate contributes to the company's overall growth and strengthens collaboration between practice groups and their leaders.


Crafting the Interview Process:

When designing the interview process for potential senior partners or practice group leaders, focus on open-ended questions that encourage candidates to discuss their experiences and accomplishments in leadership roles. These questions should help assess their skills, knowledge, and expertise in managing teams, driving results, and fostering innovation:

Describe a situation where you led a team through a significant challenge. How did you handle it, and what was the outcome? This question helps evaluate the candidate's ability to navigate challenges, manage teams effectively, and achieve desired results, demonstrating their resilience and leadership under pressure.

Can you recall a time when you had to address a conflict between team members or departments? How did you manage the situation, and what did you learn from the experience? This question assesses the candidate's conflict resolution skills, which are crucial for maintaining a positive work environment and ensuring smooth collaboration among team members.

How have you used your strategic thinking skills to drive growth or success in your previous roles as a leader? This question gauges the candidate's ability to develop and execute strategic plans, showcasing their vision and long-term thinking that can contribute to the organization's growth.

Provide an example of a high-impact initiative you spearheaded. What was your role, and how did it contribute to the organization's success? This question highlights the candidate's ability to take initiative, drive significant projects, and make a tangible impact on the organization's success, demonstrating their value as a leader.

What challenges did you face while implementing a new strategy or process, and how did you overcome them to achieve the desired results? This question reveals the candidate's problem-solving skills and adaptability, providing insight into how they handle obstacles and find solutions to achieve goals.

Describe a situation where you had to make a critical decision for the organization or practice group. What factors did you consider, and what was the outcome? This question assesses the candidate's decision-making skills and ability to weigh various factors, ensuring they can make informed choices that benefit the organization or practice group.

What process did you use to create an environment that fosters innovation, collaboration, and continuous improvement within your team or practice group? This question evaluates the candidate's ability to cultivate a positive work environment that encourages innovation and collaboration, essential for driving growth and success in the organization.

What obstacles have you faced as a leader, and how did you overcome them to achieve your goals and drive success for the organization? This question helps identify the candidate's resilience, adaptability, and problem-solving skills, showcasing their ability to tackle challenges and lead the organization through difficult situations.

How have you managed change within your team or practice group, and how did you ensure that your recommendations were well-received by the involved parties? This question determines the candidate's change management skills, which are vital for implementing new strategies, processes, or initiatives that benefit the organization.

Describe a time when you had to mentor or develop a high-potential employee. How did you support their growth and help them reach their full potential? This question explores the candidate's ability to mentor and develop talent, an essential skill for leaders who need to build strong teams and drive the organization's success.

How have you approached situations where you needed to build relationships with key stakeholders, both within and outside your organization, to achieve your goals? This question assesses the candidate's ability to develop and maintain strategic relationships, which is crucial for driving growth and success in a senior partner or practice group leader role.

Ensuring Alignment with Culture and Values:

A candidate's compatibility with the company's culture is crucial for long-term success. Make sure to clearly define your company's culture, including core values and desired attributes, to improve your ability to evaluate whether a candidate is a good fit for your organization. Consider the following hypothetical example of company culture and the attributes you might look for in a candidate:

  • At our company, we cultivate an entrepreneurial culture within a transparent and flat organization, where each member shares a stake in our collective success. Our team is composed of individuals who are passionate about creativity and productivity, empowered with autonomy and decision-making authority.
  • We value diversity and inclusion, fostering a work environment in which all individuals feel respected and valued. Our team thrives on collaboration, effective communication, and the pursuit of collective success over individual recognition. We tackle challenges with eagerness to learn, a sense of humor, a friendly attitude, and mutual respect, while maintaining active and fulfilling lives outside of work.
  • We seek to hire strong contributors possessing a growth mindset, intrinsic motivation, leadership potential, and an understanding of where the industry is headed. Our ideal candidates are bright individuals with high emotional intelligence, capable of working well together and treating each other with respect. We look for curious learners who can translate new ideas into action and display authenticity, valuing human equality and treating others as they wish to be treated.
  • The individuals who best fit our culture are driven to work alongside the industry's top creative and technical talent. They excel in a relaxed work environment with a transparent and flat structure, embracing problem-solving and creativity. These candidates have the ability to bring the right ideas to fruition and recognize that responsibility and accountability go hand-in-hand. They are skilled at building and sustaining relationships, valuing teamwork, and working with others as equals. With high emotional intelligence, industry experience, and a cooperative work ethic, they contribute meaningfully to our organization.
  • Our team members have a growth mindset and the ability to "connect the dots," delivering purposeful work with care, imagination, and integrity. They apply their creative, analytical, and technical skills to enhance our ability to provide superior outcomes for all clients.
  • We are an Equal Opportunity Employer and consider qualified applicants for employment without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, genetic information, medical condition, disability, marital status, or protected veteran status.
Develop a Set of Shared Attributes:

Based on the explanation above, we'll want to search for candidates who exhibit a range of attributes that embody the organization's values. Given what we know above, our top individuals most likely have consistently demonstrated professionalism and exhibit high energy levels coupled with enthusiasm. They might also possess a balance of confidence and humility, coupled with effective self-monitoring skills, intellectual curiosity, and inquisitiveness. Authenticity and a genuine nature are crucial, as are strong conscientiousness and attention to detail. Top candidates might also possess exceptional discipline and work ethic, a collaborative mindset, and excellent communication skills.

Being achievement-oriented and goal-driven, the short list of top candidates should be able to strike a balance between a fun and driven personality while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Valuing creativity and innovation, these individuals should have experience leading or owning projects, showcasing accountability and responsibility in their past roles. Their commitment to uplifting and supporting others is vital, as is their dedication to continuous learning and self-improvement. Emotional stability and resilience will probably be necessary qualities, along with a caring and respectful attitude towards others.

Use Real Insights to Filter and Evaluate:

Once we've identified our desired attributes, we can use it to create a mental Q&A filter to help us score and compare top candidates. Based on the attributes mentioned, the filter might look like this:

  • Will they energize and promote the firm? Candidates who can sell the company, its leaders, and its viability, drawing others in while creating an environment of energy, hope, and success.
  • Do they show interest in uplifting those around them? Candidates who know when to invest in others and can provide examples of their efforts in developing others.
  • Will they work well within our culture and team? Candidates who prioritize team success alongside their own.
  • Do they have a growth mindset? Candidates who are curious, eager to learn, and coachable.
  • Do they display an integrated self? Candidates with high emotional intelligence (EQ), empathy, self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, and strong social skills. Their online and offline personas should align or complement each other.
  • Are their intrinsic and extrinsic motivations compatible with ours? Candidates who are passionate about solving clients' problems, valuing the journey as much as the destination.
  • Do they have sufficient domain experience to succeed within our firm? Candidates with at least a 4-year college degree and interests aligned with our company's goals.
  • Can they make sound decisions? Candidates who think strategically and demonstrate good decision-making abilities.
  • Do they value an open structure and culture? Candidates interested in working autonomously within a similar structure and collaborating effectively within a team.
  • Do they value independence and exhibit professionalism and maturity? Candidates with a proven track record of productivity and independent decision-making.
  • Can they communicate and collaborate effectively? Candidates comfortable with lively collaboration, clear communication, and task or project flexibility.
  • Do they share our definition of "fun"? Candidates who balance a relaxed attitude with a sense of drive and purpose, dedicated to meaningful work.
  • Do they value "ownership" and "entrepreneurship" within a cultural framework? Candidates who take initiative, demonstrate a relationship between responsibility and accountability, and seek inclusion in decisions, compensation, and ownership.
  • Can they maintain a full life outside of work? Candidates who lead active and fulfilling lives outside of work, without solely defining themselves by their profession.
  • Can they add value and achieve successful outcomes? Candidates who perform at a high level, tackle challenges, exhibit a growth mindset, and display intrinsic motivation. They should have demonstrated responsibility, accountability, and value addition in previous roles.
  • Do they show continuous learning and growth? Candidates who embrace new challenges, seek skill development, and view failure as a learning opportunity, approaching challenges with eagerness, humor, and respect.
  • Do they have leadership potential? Candidates who demonstrate leadership potential and thrive in environments that value mentorship, continuous learning, and teamwork.
  • Do they act professionally in their field? Mature candidates with solid work experience, demonstrating forward-looking industry interests.
  • Do they exhibit high intelligence? Candidates who have completed college, learned from their mistakes, continually grow, and can "connect the dots" in their field.
  • Do they share our values? Candidates who value human equality, treat others with respect, and prioritize authenticity. They should be "truth tellers" and "truth sharers," valuing ideation, experimentation, and the balance between art and science.

With this comprehensive DIY approach to hiring senior partners or practice group leaders, you'll be better equipped to find the right candidates for your professional services firm. By defining the role clearly, designing open-ended interview questions, ensuring cultural alignment, and evaluating candidates using a mental framework that matches the role to the needs of the organization, you can streamline your hiring process and increase your chances of selecting top talent to deliver results. Remember, hiring the right people can have a significant impact on your company's success, so it's essential to invest time and effort in this process.


Take your talent acquisition and recruitment efforts from routine to remarkable with TalentSum 360. For more information on how TalentSum 360 can unlock the full potential of your talent function, get in touch with our team today.

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