Hiring the Right Person

I am often asked to conduct an in-service or a train-the-trainer effort. Whether you're looking for people from inside your organization or from outside, you need some criteria to apply to screen candidates. Recently, an organization was trying to figure out how to find people to lead sessions of an interactive, action-focused diversity training. We were planning to have a training session for the course they would be conducting, but it would be a few days long, not a few months. How could we recruit and select people who will be effective facilitators of the many groups that would take the sessions?
We recognized that people who do conventional platform training were not likely to be the people we wanted, but those were the only people in their instructor pool. I don't believe that asking for formal educational credentials or years of experience is useful. In many cases, it's irrelevant.
I pointed out that people in many arenas do group facilitation. They are in health care, churches, conflict resolution centers, community organizations. We wanted to find people who would be as close to our ideal as possible. This would be the only way our train-the-trainer effort would work. Here's what I suggested. In the statement of qualifications, ask applicants to indicate their experience with the following:
  1. Marriage encounter weekend or similar personal growth program
  2. Outward Bound, Project Adventure, or similar group
  3. Interfaith/interracial dialogue
  4. Facilitating group discussions
  5. Addressing controversial subjects in public
  6. Dealing with interpersonal conflict situations
  7. Cross-cultural relationship
  8. Being multilingual
  9. Participating in civil rights/human rights activity
  10. Volunteer with soup kitchen, shelters, Habitat for Humanity, etc.
  11. Peace Corps, VISTA, AMIGOS, AFS, or similar
  12. Taking course or workshop in cultural diversity, mediation
  13. Teaching workshop or class with diverse students
  14. Attended leadership training program
  15. Active in community organization
  16. Involved in organizational change process

In addition, ask applicants for references from several people and ask them for a statement of interest in the specific project for which you're recruiting them.
You can give one point to each item on the list, then set a cut-off level. (I think 6-8 is reasonable, but it's not scientific.) You could assign a different weight to different items and come up with a minimum score. I have great confidence that a person with some combination of the experiences on the list will be able to do the kind of facilitation that is needed, with guidance, orientation, and support, of course.
I think there is an important correlation between these kinds of experiences and the ability of someone to do good work. What I'm saying is that the more of those experiences someone has, the easier and the shorter the training process will be, or the more effective the consultant will be.