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7 questions to ask your executive search firm

October 2018
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Ask these questions before your next search

Ready to find an amazing, qualified candidate for an open position who also fits in with your company culture? Before you hire a search firm to scour the planet for the person who meets your needs, take a few moments to ensure you’ve chosen the right partner to engage. If you don’t, you might find your search process will be doomed for failure!

Asking a firm these seven questions will increase your likelihood of making a proper selection, and experiencing a successful executive search outcome:

1. What relevant experience does my consultant possess?
Though you partner with an executive search firm based on the organization’s capabilities and reputation, you should take a deeper interest in the relevant skills, personal network and experience of the individual consultant working directly with you on your placement.

Ask questions that help you get a better understanding of the consultant’s own experience working with companies and industries similar to your own. Learn about the successes as well as the challenges they have faced. Try to uncover what they gleaned from the past and how they will bring those insights to your particular search as a result.

2. How flexible are your search capabilities? 
Businesses that utilize agile strategies are equipped to meet challenges as they emerge. Leaders in these environments understand that an agile response is sometimes the only difference between market success and failure. As trends and conditions change, so do business needs.

If it’s possible that the details of your search will change – whether it’s location, salary or other key factors – during your partnership with an executive search firm, you need to understand to what level your consultant can be flexible. Changing the search criteria mid-process can result in lost momentum, By being transparent up-front and understanding to what extent you can shift expectations during the search, you will be better equipped to manage the process.

3. How long will it take to find qualified candidates?
Setting timeline expectations at the beginning of the relationship is crucial to the success of the search. Depending on the position and the skills required, your search partner may need several months to locate and attract top talent. Rushing this process can result in an unqualified hire, which will inevitably lead to a repeat search.

To increase your opportunities for a successful hire, work with your executive search firm to establish a realistic timeline together. If you have any concerns about the length of the search, it’s better to bring them up at the beginning of your relationship, rather than wait until the process is well underway.

4. How will you assess candidates?
It’s important to understand how your consultant will qualify candidates as they move through the search process. If you do not believe that the consultant’s methods match your specifications for the role, bring it up right away. Likewise, if you have any proprietary methods for assessing candidate skills, share these with your consultant.

The better your consultant understands the unique requirements of the position, the more likely it will be that he or she will help you find an excellent match. You may also want to know if your consultant will be meeting with candidates face-to-face, over the phone, or via some other communication platform. Determine if they will use competency-based tests, behavioral assessments or a combination of both.

5. What deliverables can I expect?
Ultimately, your goal is to find a qualified candidate, but a hire isn’t the only deliverable your executive search firm will provide. As you discuss timelines, ensure there are tangible milestones that you can look for along the way.

Other examples of deliverables may include a review of the job description, candidate evaluations and status reports. Importantly, you should determine the quality and depth of detail you can expect from each deliverable. Don’t assume that your idea of a report matches the consultant’s idea. Setting these expectations up front will prevent surprises later on.

6. Can you ensure confidentiality?
Your executive search partner should understand the importance of confidentiality to your organization. Consider asking your consultant how they intend to maintain a reasonable level of confidentiality while approaching potential candidates. Make sure you’re comfortable with their answers before you proceed.

7. What additional information do you need from me?
Give your consultant an opportunity to ask you for more information. There’s a chance that you haven’t thought of everything involved in the search process, so you will have to depend on your recruiter’s expertise. If he or she asks you for additional details about the position, be as forthcoming as possible. This type of knowledge will help your consultant perform to your high expectations.

To learn more about the unique qualities that make Stanton Chase a valuable search partner, contact our expert consultants today.


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