Interviewing Executives? 10 Red Flags to Watch For
There is no more important decision than choosing the people at the top of your organization. They set the tone for your company’s values, vision and culture. They make the most critical business decisions and ultimately own the responsibility of hiring everyone else.
As you interview executive candidates, watch for these red flags:
#1: Vision for growth is missing.
Not only must an individual have the skill set for the job, their vision, goals and style must mesh with that of your organization. All the above criteria should be specifically outlined in your job description.
#2: Business track record is shaky.
Your executive of choice should be someone who has clearly and directly contributed to their company’s growth. Critically analyze their accomplishments and look for measurable examples of success.
#3: Professional credentials fall short.
Be sure your finalists meet the educational and experience levels set forth in your job description. If you’ve determined you want a minimum of 15 years’ progressive career history and an MBA, don’t settle for less.
#4: What interpersonal skills??
One of the most important ingredients for your executive leaders is the ability to develop and maintain strong interpersonal relationships. The skill of working with people and gaining their trust is vital and should be non-negotiable.
#5: Failure to communicate.
Strong communication skills are a must. This includes everything from persuading others on a one-on-one basis to cascading clear messages throughout the organization. It involves cross-functional empathy and the capability to actively listen and reflect without jumping to conclusions.
#6: No sense of ownership.
Your leaders need to take ownership of their function and make sure it constantly runs smoothly and effectively. They must be ever accountable, even if it means taking one for the team in the event of a mishap or crisis.
#7: Not strategic.
Executives earn the right to be where they are by thinking strategically and holistically about their roles. The correct mindset is the one that constantly focuses on maintaining a competitive advantage – and making the key decisions to get there.
#8: Don’t look like a leader.
Executives today are expected to be tuned into their physical and psychological health. They are role models for their organization, so they must present a positive image to stakeholders. A company’s health is only as good as that of its leader.
#9: Said “yes” too quickly.
The best executive candidates want the best package they can get. They know their worth in the marketplace and they hold out to get it. If they don’t negotiate the best deal for themselves, how can they do it for your company? The table will turn once they’re hired – and you’ll realize your ROI several times over.
#10: Reference check issues.
Check references less for the reference itself and more for a read on the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. Get referrals beyond those provided by the individual, so that they’re neither hand selected nor prepped. And remember: Everyone has liabilities. If a reference denies this reality, disregard them as a reliable information source.
Make Your Job Easier
A specialized executive search firm can partner with you to be sure you cover all the bases when it comes to leadership recruitment. For example, your recruitment partner can:
Help define your mission and vision statements, as well as develop clear, effective executive job descriptions.
Handle reference and background checks.
Utilize their extensive professional network to assist with candidate sourcing, referrals and recommendations.
Quarterback any or all aspects of your recruitment, interviewing, hiring and negotiation processes. You are counseled from start to finish, when you step in prepared to have the final say.