If you’ve never done the job yourself, how do you hire someone good?
Step 1: Know what you want
Resist the temptation to educate yourself simply by interviewing candidates. The very best way to know what you want is to act in the role. Often, CEOs resist acting in functional roles because they worry that they lack the appropriate knowledge. This worry is precisely why you should act — to get the appropriate knowledge.
It also helps greatly to bring in domain experts.
Finally, be clear in your own mind about your expectations for this person upon joining your company. What will this person do in the first 30 days? Do you want them to build a large organization right away or hire only one or two people over the next year?
Step 2: Run a process that figures out the right match
Write down the strengths you want and the weaknesses that you are willing to tolerate. Develop questions that test for the criteria. Assemble the interview team. And get backdoor and front-door references.
Step 3: Make a lonely decision
The ultimate decision should be made solo. Only the CEO has comprehensive knowledge of the criteria, the rationale for the criteria, all of the feedback from interviewers and references, and the relative importance of the various stakeholders. Consensus decisions about executives almost always sway the process away from strengths and toward lack of weakness.