6 questions to ask before recruiting and hiring a top executive

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Hiring a top executive is a daunting proposition. There are few decisions you can make that are more critical to your success than the makeup of your leadership team.

Unfortunately, making that kind of crucial hire is easier said than done. Even if you and/or your internal HR department are great at hiring entry and mid-level employees, hiring top execs, especially a president or CEO, is a completely different ballgame.

Here are some of the top questions you should consider when recruiting and hiring people to lead your company.

What are your needs for this position? Sit down with your executive team, board and all the major stakeholders and talk about exactly what the company needs from its new CEO or president. What kinds of skill sets, experience, networking connections and other factors do you need this person to bring to the table? Getting clear on what you want and need from your next top exec is the first step in finding the perfect person. A word to the wise: They don’t have to be a carbon copy of the person they’re replacing. New skills and a fresh perspective can breathe new life into your business.

What about intangibles? We’re talking about culture fit, personality and style. Your organization will be led from the top down, and if you replace a buttoned-up, formal CEO with a T-shirt-and-man-bun-wearing millennial, despite his qualifications on paper, you’ve just made a seismic shift that will change everything in your company.

Have you created a short list? A recruiting firm has a network that reaches beyond your own. That’s why it’s wise to use one. The talent pool is much deeper, and your chances of finding the perfect person go way up. Recruiters also know who is quietly looking for another opportunity and are invaluable in creating a short list of top people for you to consider.

How are you going to conduct your search? We humbly suggest using a search firm like ours, but if you don’t, this is the time for ultimate discretion. It’s crucial, for both you and your candidates. Why? The last thing you need is every competitor knowing you have a vacancy in one of your top positions. And you don’t want it to get out that your VP of sales isn’t cutting it and you’re looking for a replacement before you let him go. Just as important, maybe even more so: Your top candidate may still be in his or her current position. Recruiting needs to be done quietly, with discretion.

Have you done your homework? Before approaching any candidate for a top position, get online and get a handle on their social media presence. Does it matter that an entry-level hire has a slightly wacky Twitter feed or posts cat videos all day on Facebook? Not really. But if your potential president or CEO (or anyone you’re considering for a leadership position) is sending out late-night Twitter rants (we’re looking at you, Elon Musk) or making crazy promises (a WeWork on Mars, Adam Neumann?), it can literally damage your company, its brand and its bottom line.

Is your own house in order? Like matchmaking, recruiting goes both ways. You need to find the leader that’s right for your company. That leader needs to find the right company for him or her. It’s vital to have everything in order, from your quarterly reports and any other numbers reflecting the health of your business to bios of your top managers and other C-suite execs, to challenges you believe your candidate is the perfect person to solve. Crafting the perfect opportunity for your candidate is key to closing that hiring deal.

At Andcor, we specialize in filling C-suite vacancies with the perfect match. Get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have about finding the best person to steer your ship.

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