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How do I Hire a Consultant?


The process is very similar to recruiting an employee…assuming your MO isn’t hiring on the fly! 

First, you’ll want to strategize by asking key questions like:

  • What’s the ”challenge” or “opportunity” facing us?  Clarifying the problem or issue upfront is key.
  • What are the pros of initiating this project now?  Be sure the project’s return on investment is worth the actual and opportunity costs.
  • What are the cons of not initiating this project now?  Timing can be everything.  Do you have adequate financial and human resources at hand?  If not, you may not be ready to act nimbly enough and seize the opportunity. 
  • Why do I need an external rather than an internal resource?  Often internal resources who have the expertise to solve the problem are overlooked.  Do you have a succession plan that identifies high performers?  Would this provide a developmental opportunity for one or some of them?  If you’re sure you don’t that have that in-house expertise or timing is an issue, an external resource can provide expertise just-in-time. 
  • Do I need a Consultant or a Contractor?  A Consultant is a professional who provides expert advice (i.e. recommends  global best practices) to solve problems whereas a Contractor is a subject matter expert who gets the job done.  You may decide to hire a combination Consultant-Contractor.

Next you’ll want to draft a Request for Proposal (RFP).  This document includes:  

  • An introduction to the organization and its culture
  • An overall summary of the project including its:  purpose, basic phases, unique components, venue(s) and timeline
  • Details of the specific advice and/or services required
  • Budget including preferred method of payment, e.g. flat fee for service or time and expenses
  • Qualifications including the specialized knowledge, skills and experience you need to complete the project on time, within budget and to high satisfaction
  • Evaluation Criteria including milestones during the propject cycle as well as the Key Performance Indicators and metrics that will be used to measure success upon its completion
  • Submission details including closing date and time, number of copies required, whether hard and/or electronic copies are acceptable and if it’s a sealed bid process  

Then you’ll want to interview.  This may include an initial telephone screening, a first interview for tentative chemistry-fit and a second interview to assess expertise.  Behaviourally based interview questions work as effectively for Consultants as for employees.  

Don’t forget to check references!  This is often done quickly and superficially or overlooked all together but is a key step in the overall process.

Finally you’ll want to draft a Consulting Services Agreement that outlines who is accountable for what and when during the project’s cycle.

Making the time to strategize upfront will help you retain the best Consultant for your project and ensure success.