Interviewing for the Board Room:
Tips on Executive Recruiting for Candidates and Companies
By: Mike McDonough
The interview is the most crucial part of the hiring process, and there’s nowhere it’s more critical than an executive search. When companies are looking to bring in a new top-producer to their organization, both sides need to feel comfortable with the move and fit. Unlike your typical job interview, a conversation with a potential executive will usually go much deeper than covering their resume. Here are a few tips for both potential executives and companies looking to hire.
For Executive Candidates
Identify the Role
Coming in at a high-level, you need to know exactly what you’ll be doing and what the company expects. Maybe this is a job that was recently vacated, or maybe it’s a new position entirely, but either way, it’s important to identify the goals and responsibilities of this role beyond the job posting. Then you can spend time talking about how you can not only fill, but also expand the role to move the company forward.
Listen, Learn & Converse
As with any interview, it’s important to ask questions. But when an executive position is being discussed, don’t just save all of them until the end. This interview should be a true conversation between professionals. So sit, listen and react to what’s being said in the room. Don’t start formulating questions while someone is speaking or you’ll risk missing something important. Treat the interview like a board meeting. You want to command the room, without dominating the conversation.
Be Thoughtful in your Follow-up
It’s still important to follow-up after your interview with either the classic handwritten note or with an email. Most likely, business cards will be exchanged, so you’ll have the opportunity to reach out electronically and ask additional questions after the interview. Don’t be a nuisance with multiple emails, but don’t be afraid to ask about uncovered topics when you’re thanking the interviewer for their time. This shows that you’ve been thinking about the position and examining what you talked about in more depth.
For Companies Looking for Executive Talent
This is especially important when you’re talking with a candidate who is already employed (and a lot of top candidates in high-demand fields, like underwriting, will be). These individuals are playing big roles within a company, so they often can’t leave in the middle of an afternoon for an interview. A dinner meeting or even a quick lunch out might be a better time to talk. Make sure you leave yourself with enough time to get the important questions answered, while being respectful of busy schedules on both ends. These candidates could be facing a big choice if they are offered the position, so you want to be accommodating and thoughtful to convey a positive view of your business and how you treat your people.
Be Ready to Answer Tough Questions
Has your company been in the news or are you trading on the stock market? If so, don’t be surprised if that comes up in an executive interview. Your candidate should have done their research, and if they’re looking to join a company in a leadership role, they’ll want to know about potential issues and how they’re being addressed. Don’t bristle at these questions, instead use them to find out more about the candidates approach to challenges and ask how they would tackle them on their team or in their role.
Create a Timeline for Transitioning
Finding, filling and transitioning a new executive employee can be a long, drawn-out process. Outline a plan so you and your new executive can make the move quickly and easily. Create a schedule for interviews and offers so the potential employee has time to consider the opportunity, but doesn’t feel the position isn’t essential to fill immediately. According to Forbes, there are only 3 real questions you need to have answered in an interview: Can this person do the job, will this person like the job and can I stand working with them? Get those answered and move the process forward. After the offer is made and accepted, a clear plan will give your new team member a chance to wrap things up at their previous position and while your company prepares to welcome your new executive.
Ready to start your executive job search? No matter which side of the table you’re on, General Search & Recruitment can help you find and fill top level positions in the most demanding fields like Underwriting, Sales & Marketing, Customer Service and more. Contact us today to get started.