Insights

How Science and Skill Combine in Executive Recruitment

Posted by Reed Flesher

While every role in an organization is important, there is extra pressure that comes with recruiting qualified talent to fill top executive and leadership roles. Executive recruitment is an art and science that ideally combines both qualitative and quantitative data to fill these critical positions and retain strong leadership long-term.

In the past, so much of executive recruiting was accomplished by stacking up a candidate’s skills and experience with the gut feeling felt by members of the board and hiring managers about a candidate. Are they a cultural fit? Do they look and sound like we think a leader should? How many years have they been in the business and will they bring the necessary cache to the role?

The Role of Technology

Today, the staggering rise of technology has completely changed the game, allowing you to identify the underlying factors and sometimes unseen competencies that make someone a competent leader for a specific business.

Technology has made executive search a far more nuanced science. Now, instead of reaching a consensus based on someone’s little black book and your outward interpretation of them, you can deep-dive with qualified assessments to uncover intangible traits like soft skills, leadership acumen, potential for advancement, and emotional intelligence. While you still can’t say get inside a potential executive’s head, technology makes it possible to see deeper into what makes them tick than ever before.

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Of course, there is still a place for in-person interviews in the vetting process as they provide the sort of “aha” insights about a candidate that only a face-to-face meeting can yield. However, top companies are now combining these qualitative “gut feeling, know-it-when-you-see-it” experiences with a range of assessments, psychometric tests, and simulated problem-solving encounters to get a more reliable idea of how someone will perform in a leadership role. Moreover, an ever-increasing number of organizations are opting to partner with external experts and vendors to license products and supply the expertise necessary to deploy these assessments and extract usable data from them.

Blending Art with Science

These products and services will continue to become more accessible to businesses of all sizes as more affordable competitors enter the market and the use of technology in recruiting continues to evolve. Even so, there will always be a place for the art as well as the science in executive recruiting. Besides solely relying on technology, there are some general best practices that any company should be following in their process.

Time-Sensitivity: Executive prospects tend to be extremely scarce on time. They have no desire to be burdened by clunky hiring processes and will likely have several attractive opportunities at any given time. Do a walk-through of your recruitment process from the perspective of an executive and assess whether it is timely and efficient. Move swiftly and communicate with candidates throughout the process. Failing to do so can make them feel they are being left in the blind and damage your reputation as an employer.

Careful Vetting: Some insights about an individual cannot be uncovered by a standardized test or even the most technologically advanced scientific assessment. The age of social media allows savvy executives the chance to publish content that is favorable to themselves, but you cannot rely solely on what they put out there about themselves. Check in with personal and professional references to verify this info. Contact their past managers, business partners, and even their direct reports. Read up on topics about which they have written, watch videos of their speaking engagements, and try to figure out how others have reacted to them. Are they controversial? Is the controversy warranted? Have they ever been involved in a scandal? How did they react to it? Address information you find in the in-person interview and give them a chance to respond to it in their own words.

Focus on Their Needs: Lastly, consider not just what you hope to extract from executives but also what you can provide them. Candidates are like customers, and your company is a brand. Try to focus on a hiring culture that provides a friendly and comfortable experience that addresses pain points they may have had in previous roles and woos them to join your team. This may be offering a healthy work/life balance, higher salaries, better benefits, or ongoing learning and development opportunities that will advance their career over time.

How We Can Help

Thrive TRM makes world-class talent management software for search firms, in-house recruiters, or any organization looking to make better executive hiring decisions. Visualize your data to make sense of it all and share it with stakeholders instantly. Contact us to schedule a demo and start finding the right leaders for your business today.

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