Essential steps for hiring senior executives

No recruitment process will ever be exactly the same as the one before it. Much depends on your company, your needs and the pool of candidates that come your way. Particularly when it comes to executives, the entire process needs to be as personalized and fine-tuned to the situation as possible.

But there is always a foundation of principles to follow that will set you down the right path. It’s even more important to have this platform to build on when recruiting executives, since so much depends on getting it right. Here are some of the essentials for hiring executives:

Move quickly… but not too quickly

While it’s important to be efficient with your time for recruitment processes of all kinds, it is even more important for executive recruitment, partly because of the power dynamics of this situation: when recruiting an executive, you will often find yourself trying to win over one or two people you think would be great for your company – people who probably have other offers and opportunities on the table.

This basically means that you need to impress them as much (if not more) than they need to impress you, and the best way to do that is to not waste their time. If you’ve got a big fish on the line, don’t give him a chance to get away; continue reeling him in.

Of course, there’s a balance to be found. The importance of recruiting managers and executives and getting it right naturally makes it a longer process than recruiting entry-level employees. You especially don’t want to skip important parts of the recruitment process in a panic that someone else might steal your candidate away from you. The solution is to make sure the process is as streamlined as possible so that things are constantly in motion but all the necessary steps are still being taken.

Give candidates as much insight as possible

Entry-level employees don’t usually need to know much in order to start working, but executives will be making big decisions that have a significant impact on the future of your company. If you want them to hit the ground running, you need to give them as much insight into your company as possible during the recruitment process.

Obviously, there are certain secrets you probably don’t want to give away without a non-disclosure agreement, but the more you can share about the state of your company and what tasks you want candidates to tackle, the more excited you can make them for the challenges to come. There’s also a higher likelihood they will feel more valued during the recruitment process the more open you can be. It’s up to you what information to provide at what stage of the recruitment process, but this is a highly effective strategy that gives candidates the impression that they’re already at work with a set of problems that need solutions.

Ask candidates for a plan

But you’re not the only one who should be providing information! Rather than relying on candidates’ resumes and previous experience, ask them for a detailed plan for their first few months in the job. What issues do they see that need handling right away? How would they strategize and make it happen?

This practice will give you increased insight into how a candidate thinks and whether or not their ideas and approach to issues match with yours. It’s critical when hiring an executive to know that you’re in alignment on the main issues your company faces and there’s no better way to establish that alignment and no better time to do it than during the recruitment process before signing a contract.

Know your existing team

Often times, recruiting a manager or an executive has to be a discreet process, not one you can go telling the world about – or even your current employees. In the rare cases when it’s possible, having a team interview with a candidate towards the end of the recruitment process is a good option to consider; this lets his/her future subordinates get some say in the matter and lets you see how a candidate handles the personal interaction.

But for the majority of times it’s not possible, and you need to make sure you know and understand your existing team ahead of time so you can make a decision based, at least in part, on matching the character and qualities of a candidate to the DNA of your existing team. Ideally, just as a candidate should be a perfect fit for your company, culture and values, the same should be true of the team he/she will need to manage.

More than anywhere else in your organization, it’s crucial that you get recruitment right when it comes to managers and executives. Make sure you know what you want in some detail before starting the process and stick to a process that will reveal whether a candidate is precisely the right fit for you.


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