Five key mistakes firms repeatedly make when recruiting senior executives

MTA media headhuntersHiring the right senior talent into your business can be a time-consuming and expensive process. That’s where engaging the right executive search team to source talent can be crucial – it’s a time-saving and, ultimately, cost-effective process.

Time and time again we see hiring managers do things that, in the long-run, set them back. Common mistakes get made and, if not put right, they can repeatedly cost the hiring firm.

Here’s a quick and easy guide to the type of mistakes that occur time and again when recruiting senior executives – and the simple steps that can be put in place to rectify them:

1) Not fully understanding the hiring process

The first thing the hiring manager should establish is a clear idea of each step in the hiring process. Once presented with a shortlist from an executive search firm, these are the simple questions hiring managers should ask themselves:

a. How many client/candidate meetings would they like to have?
b. Would this involve an exercise/presentation stage? How long will this take to organise if we include it?
c. Ideally, when would the client like the candidate to start in the role?
d. Is there a date on which they would ideally like the candidate to have signed their contract?

Having this framework in mind can really stop the whole process from dragging on and on.


2) Too many meetings bore the candidate and make your business look bad

We would always advise making the hiring process as streamlined as possible. One of our former client insisted on candidates meeting with in excess of ten different stakeholders around their business. By the end of process, the candidates were always interview-fatigued and the process left the business looking indecisive. Make the process short and sharp, if you can.


3) Not fully understanding the role on offer

It sounds remarkable, doesn’t it? But you’d be surprised how often hiring managers either lack a clear understanding of the role on offer or lack a clear, concise job description so the candidate can understand the exact perimeters of the role.

The last thing a candidate wants is to be hired into a new business only to find the job isn’t quite what they thought it would be, or to discover that patchily defined areas of responsibility mean they’re left in a tug-of-war with other executives over who takes control of what.


4) Ill-defined responsibilities and requirements

What is a ‘must have’ and what is a ‘desirable’? Understanding what you want in terms of the candidate’s background and achievements is of paramount importance. It also helps to have a good understanding of the kind of person you want to fill that senior role.

What type of person would fit in with your team and wider business? Have a think about the culture of your company and be prepared to talk your candidate through this aspect of the job.


5) Are you willing to sell your job to someone who’s not really looking?

With most processes, the best candidates tend to be those who are not actively looking and are happy in their current situation. Headhunted candidates need to be sold on the opportunity and also sold on the business that is doing the hiring.

In order to attract the best talent you need to make sure the job and company sound enticing. Also your online presence – website and social media – should be kept up-to-date and look credible at all times.