How to Ensure You Hire the Best Possible Candidate

I’ve highlighted some of the important steps a Hiring Official should take when working with a headhunter, to maximize the chance that the organization ends up with a superb hire.

  1. Make sure all stakeholder voices are heard – It is extremely important at the onset of a search for the Hiring Official to be inclusive and encourage involvement from all the interested stakeholders.  All those who will be directly impacted by the role can be invited to sit down one-on-one with the headhunter to share thoughts/opinions in confidence.  This step at the beginning of a search can be quite challenging to organize from a scheduling standpoint and can also be enormously time consuming for your headhunter, but well worth it. A good executive search consultant will invest the time required; not only will this process get everyone invested in the search but it allows the recruiter to hear “the real deal”.  Critical information inevitably comes out of these conversations that can be shared with prospective candidates so there are no surprises when he/she joins the organization.  The recruiter needs to know the good, the bad and the ugly.
  2. Keep the process open and transparent – There are some exceptions when confidentiality overrides this but whenever possible, a Hiring Official should communicate internally to their organization as well as externally to the marketplace that an executive search firm has been retained and a search has commenced.  This way everything is out in the open and all politics, biases or any other influences can be removed and a thorough, effective and objective process can prevail.  The Hiring Official can encourage internal candidates to apply and this way they will be evaluated fairly as every other candidate in the selection process.
  3. Give the headhunter all the tools – These items may seem obvious but they are important and having them ready right at the beginning of the search can help get the headhunter get off to a quick start:
    • An updated electronic job description.
    • A written or on-line benefits summary.
    • The base salary targeted, the approved range and realistic “wriggle room”.
    • A comprehensive relocation package.
  4. Plan ahead and communicate often – Take a look at the time-plan right away and secure dates in the calendar for everyone who will be involved at shortlist presentation as well as at the interviews. If you have a large Selection Committee everyone is bound to have very busy schedules so locking in dates early will save frustration and delay later on. A long-list discussion before the executive search firm actually interviews candidates is also useful to review people who are perhaps know by various employees and again update the Hiring Official as to those who look most promising.
  5. Utilize the headhunter to help get to “Yes” – Once a Hiring Official or Selection Committee has chosen the top candidate, the negotiation begins and the headhunter can be very useful at this stage, acting a facilitator and preventing any breakdown in discussion.  A Hiring Official may be looking for strong negotiation skills when describing an ideal candidate for the job but then see these skills in a completely different light when on the other side of the table negotiating an employment offer. Acting as a middleperson, we can ensure that everyone feels good about an accepted offer and there are no hard feelings when the person shows up on day one.

A good headhunter should be like an extension of your own organization and these 5 tips will assist you in finding the best possible talent during an executive search process.

How to Handle Interest in Various Roles

The “Bird in the Hand” scenario is a pretty common situation for a job hunter, especially if you’re highly qualified within your field and in between roles. No two hiring processes move at the same speed and often you’ll want to see things through before withdrawing after one offer comes your way…especially if the other opportunity is of greater interest.  Ideally, you’d like to meet all the key stakeholders including potential supervisors, colleagues, and staff for each position, understand the business goals and future objectives of the organizations, get a clear sense of chances for progression, and then be able to compare offers, allowing you to select the role which fits best.  The odds of this all working out are actually greater than you’d expect.

I’ll often be told when interviewing a candidate, “I received a good package from my previous employer and I’m in no rush to jump at the first opportunity that comes along…” and then this is precisely what the person does.  I’m surprised by how many individuals will do the equivalent of walking down the street to the local car dealership and choosing a vehicle right off the lot in whatever color, model and specifications happen to be available.

My suggestion to job seekers is to be strategic about their career, do their homework about potential employers, consider the geographical scope they’re willing to consider and take a reasonable amount of time to make a decision on their next move, weighing all the options available, not just this week but perhaps this quarter. Networks need to be tapped into (both in-person and through social media), headhunters need to be consulted, and specific companies of interest need to be proactively targeted.

If you do find yourself in a position where more than one job prospect is appealing, be open and upfront in the interview process, and explain that you are involved in two (or more) searches.  Be honest about your timeframe for decision-making and see if it coincides with the timing of the hiring organization.  If it doesn’t, and you’re a leading candidate, you’d be surprised how the company will speed things up or slow things down slightly to ensure they have a chance to fully consider your candidacy.

If you’re working with a search professional in the process, don’t hide anything about other searches you’re currently engaged in, keep him/her apprised of any developments, and let that person help communicate to the client on your behalf. You may also want to ask the search consultant about his/her opinion concerning your chances of coming out on top on a particular competition; if you have a trusting relationship and the search has progressed far enough for the recruiter to have a clear picture of the candidate pool, you should be able to get an accurate indication which will help you decide whether or not to take the other offer that is currently on the table.

I shudder when an outstanding, highly marketable individual says that he/she needs to respond to an offer quickly and therefore can’t complete their due diligence on another opportunity.  If you’re the best candidate for the job, an employer will understand your need to take the next two weeks to thoroughly explore the options you’re considering in order to make an informed decision…a decision that won’t be regretted 6 months down the road.  Take a moment to remember that you are, in fact, in the drivers seat of that car you’re test driving.