By Dinte
May 8, 2012

One of the most critical stages of any senior executive search process is the client’s final interviews with short list candidates.  During this phase, clients have the opportunity to directly validate and confirm which candidate has the ideal operational and management style for success for their organization.  We believe, when interviewing short list candidates, there are four critical considerations:

  • Personal Chemistry

A good vibe between you and the candidate is by far the most important thing to look for.  This is a person with whom you may be collaborating with on a daily basis and together maybe making some very important business decisions.  As a result, it may be less important what the candidate thinks rather than how they think.  To understand more about the candidates’ thought process, talk to them as you would to a new friend. Don’t just ask about their accomplishments and goals but about what makes them tick.  Ultimately, the goal is to find out if your personalities are compatible.

  • Competence is a Given

At this stage, each candidate has survived an extremely rigorous evaluation process.  So you don’t have to dwell on what they did at XYZ Corporation back in 1980 something.  You should have a full report in front of you that tells you exactly why they are innately qualified.  A recent Harvard Business Review video interview, Hiring: Finding People Who Fit, describes how important cultural fit is when evaluating a candidate’s qualifications. Jordan Evans CEO, Sharon Jordan-Evans gives an example from the hiring process at Southwest Airlines:  “What people were looking for was his attitude, his beliefs, how he interacts with people. They even checked to see if he is fun.”  In order to really learn how the candidates operate, you need to pay close attention to things like ethics, presentation, style, method of thinking, creativity, and chemistry.

  • You Are Also Being Interviewed

“Cream of the crop” business executives are always in short supply irrespective of market conditions.  They could work virtually anywhere.  And they know it. If an executive of this caliber is going to commit to your organization, you will need to lure them.  Let them see the advantages of working with you beyond just compensation.  Get them energized. Share your thinking on the future of your organization.  Show them what their role would be and how they can flourish in it. Most importantly, don’t forget that the candidate is interviewing and evaluating you too.

  • It’s a Small World After All

Interviewing top level candidates should be approached with the same mind set as any other exercise in relationship building.  You want to convey positive business and personal impressions to intrigue them about your organization.  In an interview environment, this will ensure that the executive you select is highly motivated to accept the offer.  Just as importantly, those who are not chosen will go back to their companies and industry networks to speak highly of you. When you come to interact with them again groundwork will have been laid for a strong relationship.

What other factors does your organization look for when taking a final look at candidates?

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