How Do We Effectively Recruit Our Next Execs?

By Staff Report

Oct. 27, 2011

Dear Changes:

Executive selection is a critical part of a company’s strategy and often includes internal and external candidates. There are a few definitive steps to ensure that the “right” executive is selected. This process is important whether your company uses an external search firm or conducts the search itself.

Define the role and get buy-in. There tend to be multiple stakeholders involve in an executive-selection process. Gather as much information as possible about the role, including the overall business strategy, role nuances, scope, key deliverables and so on. It is important to get this right. If this information is flawed, the selection may be flawed as well.

I like to interview the key stakeholders—especially those who will be involved in the interview process—to get the full picture and identify any inconsistencies that need to be resolved. From these conversations, one should create a position specification. This document should have specific and measurable criteria for selection: experience, leadership competencies and cultural fit. A highly tailored position specification serves as a blueprint to help you find the right person for the job.

Establish project plan and timeline. When it comes to executive selection, everyone wants the role filled yesterday. It is important to set the project milestones at the outset so you set manageable expectations. Invariably, we all believe this process should take less time than it does. Make sure all those involved have “buy-in” around the process as well as the timeline.

Interview and assess. The interview process is a give-and-take—part of the time is spent assessing and part of the time is spent describing the role to ensure interest. It is important that the interview process is controlled: This helps you assess all candidates consistently and effectively. Many companies have structured interviews in which each interviewer “owns” a criterion for assessment. Other companies use a search committee, usually comprising four to eight people, in which interviews are conducted in a group setting. Each interviewer asks one or two related questions. Then, each interviewer completes a matrix assessment form and the finalists are narrowed down.

Select and reference. Companies typically invite one to two finalist candidates back for the final round of interviews. Typically, these meetings are focused on ensuring cultural fit with the organization. The selection is not complete until executives are fully referenced, regardless of whether the executive is from the outside or an internal selection. Gaps identified through the interview process should be referenced directly (i.e., with references) and indirectly to ensure a clear view of the full picture.

SOURCE: Kim Shanahan, Korn/Ferry International, Los Angeles

LEARN MORE: Shareholders are demanding a clearer window into succession planning for top execs—just one more thing for HR to consider.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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