Candidates seeking executive level positions need to develop more than their technical skills in order to be represented by a recruiter. Recruiters are looking for people who will be able to move an organization forward and capture future opportunities for the company. Even before the hiring process begins, All About People, an executive staffing agency, recommends that companies consider five key characteristics to ensure that a newly hired executive will be successful within their organization.
The top five things that executive recruiters consider when evaluating executive candidates are:
- Technical skill. Technical skill is an obvious factor in finding a qualified candidate. At the executive level, there are two types of technical skills that should be evaluated. The first is an understanding of the work being done by the organization and how it pertains to the industry at large. The second is skill needed for planning initiatives and tracking results.
- Leadership ability. Executive level employees are responsible for ensuring that the work gets done in a timely manner, as well as driving change throughout an organization. This means they must establish a trusting and solid rapport with their teams. In order for someone to do this successfully, they must have demonstrated leadership skills that include team building, delegation skills and the ability to inspire success with all levels of the team.
- Interpersonal skills. In tandem with leadership skills are interpersonal skills. Executives need to be able to communicate effectively with people in their organization, the company at large and often those outside the company, such as the media, customers and vendors. Because of this, it is critical for senior employees to articulate thoughts clearly, maintain composure under pressure and leverage emotional intelligence to connect with those around them.
- Cultural fit. Every company is different. Each has different expectations in terms of work ethic, communication style, the physical environment and even the story the company tells. Candidates should be questioned about their comfort level in each area. Typically, candidates will be most successful when they naturally fit the existing company culture. At the executive level, however, there may be instances where the company is trying to make a cultural shift. In such a case, consider how the candidate compares to the vision, and ask questions about what they bring to the table to help facilitate this type of change.
- Vision. At the executive level, it isn’t enough to get the job done. It is important that candidates are able to see what’s next for an organization so they can evaluate options for getting there successfully. Look for examples in a candidate’s history where they demonstrated insight of the industry overall and were able to translate what’s happening industry-wide into actionable goals for their organization.
It’s critical that those doing the hiring spend time considering each of these five areas and what success looks like in each area, either internally or with the help of a staffing agency, before they begin talking with candidates. Having this knowledge in place at the onset offers those who are participating in the hiring process clear criteria against which a new executive can be measured and will ensure better quality candidates are put forth for consideration.