find your staff in conjunction with the consultant "expert" who can make recommendations, review resumes, and sit-in on interviews.
This is very good advice. I know of many businesses and non-profit groups that have used it quite successfully. There are a couple things to look out for though:
- Is the consultant competent? The risk of hiring an incompetent consultant can be minimized by asking around as you suggested. Just make sure you don't assume too much about their skills (well $associate said he's great at Perl, so he must be capable of evaluating applicants for a Java programming position).
- Is the consultant biased? If he's evaluating your applicants you don't want him selecting a candidate based on anything other than how good they'd do the job. This is hard to detect and mostly just comes back to the consultant's reputation.
You could also consider hiring the employee on a contract basis at first, seeing how they perform, and then choose whether or not to hire them full-time afterwards.