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According to research completed by Harvard Business Review, the failure rate of executives coming into new companies can range as high as 30 to 40 percent in the first 18 months. The related costs are staggering.

A regular, thoughtful review of your executive hiring process can accelerate and continuously improve results.

Dig Deep in Getting to Know Candidates

Practice due diligence and dive below the surface as you build candidate relationships.

  • Identify references from a person’s previous companies and give them a call. Do not rely solely on candidate-provided references.
  • Talk to people in the industry about an individual’s reputation. Find references within your own organization who may have crossed professional paths with a candidate. Try to uncover any patterns that may otherwise have gone unnoticed. The more background data you have, the better.
  • Go beyond typical interviews. Find ways to see candidates in action. Ask them to make presentations or give them a problem situation and have them develop solutions and a summary memo. Conduct role plays. Have prospects facilitate a meeting with other managers on a specific topic.
  • Learn how a person thinks on their feet. At the same time, determine how adaptable they will be to your company culture.

Areas of Focus

When implementing best practices in executive hiring, here are some additional strategies to emulate:

  • Perfect your job specifications. While you may have developed a very clear job description, there always will be room for improvement. You may identify additional criteria during interviews as you uncover qualifications that stand out in leading candidates. Amend your requirements accordingly.
  • Make sure your entire interview team understands the job requirements. It is not uncommon for executive candidates to reject offers after different interviewers convey varying views of a job. This signals that your organization lacks clear direction.
  • Make sure candidates understand every step of your hiring process. Be as transparent as possible and keep prospective hires in the communications loop from start to finish. Designate a position owner: one person who is responsible for moving the process along and pushing toward consensus. Do not risk losing top talent because your team cannot agree.
  • Pay attention to relocation concerns. Moving is very personal. Consider any related concerns that candidates may have. For instance, is it a dual-career situation where a spouse may need job-seeking assistance? Is it an international move, which may become especially complex or specialized?
  • Have a robust onboarding program. Effective handling of details related to bringing an executive onboard can dramatically impact their integration and possibly even retention. This sets the tone for a person’s tenure with your organization.
  • R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Follow the Golden Rule. Practice mutual respect and consideration throughout your recruiting process. For starters, have you removed all possible obstacles to a new hire’s success? Have you introduced them to people in a way that makes them feel part of the team? Are all the arrangements for their office, car, electronics and other key details in place?

As you enhance your executive hiring results, partner with BrainWorks to achieve optimal levels of success. We can help build your leadership team in consumer products, CRM, analytics and data science, digital marketing, research and consumer insights. Contact us today to learn more about our executive search services.


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