An organization can’t thrive without strong leadership. The professionals at top executive search firms understand this, which is why they leverage their skills and resources to help people like you to identify and recruit CEOs and other executives. Consider enlisting the help of such firms if you need to hire people for these positions, as they can help you to narrow down your options.
However, regardless of whether or not you coordinate with an executive search firm, it’s possible that you’d still like to be involved in the hiring process to some capacity. Additionally, before making a hiring decision, you’ll probably want the opportunity to speak with each candidate.
While it is important that interviews with executives flow naturally, inquiries that reveal more about their outlook and personality can yield insights that will enable you to better determine which candidate is the ideal fit for your company. Consider asking the following questions when you conduct interviews:
1. How do you expect this company to change during your first few years here?
It’s rare for companies to want to hire executives who are comfortable with the status quo. Promising leaders have their own vision for the company that they want to join. Therefore, it’s beneficial to give your candidates the opportunity to share their perspective. This serves many purposes. For example, it lets you know if the individual is genuinely excited about the work you do. Someone who enthusiastically communicates their ideas is likely to be a better fit than someone who struggles to come up with an answer.
It’s also crucial that the changes they expect to usher in have roots in practical knowledge. For instance, a candidate might point out how developments in your industry will force the company to adapt in order to stay successful. This indicates that they have sufficient acuity in your field to take on an important role.
Moreover, it’s beneficial to hire executives who know how to strategize. While a candidate might need more firsthand experience at your company before they can develop a thorough plan for transforming the operations, it’s useful to enlist someone who can share theoretical ideas about how they plan to go about executing their vision.
2. If you could take a job at any company outside of this one, what would it be?
It’s important that applicants for executive positions express enthusiasm for their role. Hiring someone who doesn’t want the job as much as another person could be a mistake. However, when you focus solely on the position that you’re trying to fill, you miss an opportunity to learn more about your candidates. You can safeguard against this by asking them what their ideal job would be if they couldn’t take the one for which they’re applying. Request that they describe the type of company they would like to work for and what they would like their responsibilities to be.
This is another way to determine if an individual who seems passionate is the best person for the role. For instance, perhaps the responsibilities that they listed when describing their ideal job are so different from the tasks that they would have at your organization that you can’t imagine them being satisfied at your company in the long run. Or perhaps their preferred company culture is dramatically different from yours. Culture fit is often essential for an executive.
3. How would you describe your job to someone unfamiliar with your industry?
It’s crucial that executives possess sound communication skills, which will enable them to pitch your services, coordinate with other decision-makers, and clearly express the company’s vision to the workforce, among other vital tasks. However, asking a candidate if they have strong communication skills is not an effective way to determine if they do. Some individuals might exaggerate their capabilities.
Instead, you should ask applicants to describe what they currently do and the mission of the company where they work. If you’re familiar with their industry, inquire about another previous position in a different field, and ask them to describe it. Good candidates should be able to explain the nature of their current or previous work to someone who might not understand it. If they can answer such questions effectively in a job interview, they’re likely to be solid communicators overall.
Of course, there are many other factors that you should account for when hiring executives. These are only a few questions that are worth asking before you choose someone to hire. By keeping these questions in mind and working with an executive search firm, the process of finding the right executives to fit your needs will prove to be much easier.