Use a competitive process to hire each principal consultant.
A thorough search to hire a consultant is a lot of work—but it’s worth it. The search process itself is an education: in the interviews, smart consultants will offer a sample of their thinking. The campaign manager and the entire hiring team will get to hear how smart, experienced people would solve the set of problems facing us. They will get an abundance of good and bad advice for free, and all of that advice will provide substantial food for thought. They will learn how the different consultants respond to questions, how well they listen, and how curious they are about learning.
In addition, candidates for a position with the campaign may engage in deeper, earlier thinking and more comprehensive preparation if they realize they are entering into a highly competitive process.
Finally, considering many talented candidates will help the search committee make a more informed choice. A combination of interviews and reference checks increase the odds that the hire will work out well, or may illuminate potential problems right from the start; this recognition will help the campaign manager notice sooner any problems that do come up. In addition, the process helps establish a norm of evaluation and accountability so that consultants will understand that they must meet the standards of the campaign, not merely their own standards or the standards of the profession.
If a consultant won’t participate in a competitive process, don’t hire them.
If a consultant insists on being able to hire other consultants in a noncompetitive process, don’t hire them.
For additional specific advice on hiring a pollster, see Appendix J, guideline 9.