When interviewing and evaluating retained executive search firms for a senior-level role in your organization, let intuition be your guide. Start with the questions.
Even before being hired, the initial questions that a search firms asks—about your company culture, your goals, the role to be filled—should display a seasoned and impressive grasp of your space. Ideally, your recruiting firm should have a command of your industry, your marketplace, and the functionality of the role. Later, the recruiter will need to leverage that knowledge to explain the role, color it in with context, and spin it to the toughest, most desirable candidates.
Keep your expectations high. The discovery process is a chance for your recruiter to shine, to prove the depth—not of his database, but of his expertise. It’s an opportunity for your recruiter to show you how he’d speak to a potential candidate, and whether he would showcase your company an intelligent and favorable light.
Recently, we spoke to a potential client that wasn’t sure we knew anything about software as a service. (SAAS) In fact, we had distinct opinions about the topic, and knew most of the major players. That kind of kinship is what you ought to be looking for.
Next, the firm should develop a recruitment strategy that establishes milestones—and proves that you’re not starting from scratch. It should present a systematic way to recruit candidates, select from among them, present, interview, narrow down, and debrief. And then, it should follow through with integrity and discipline—leaving nothing to chance.
The ultimate goal is to have your search firm be a true extension of your organization. If you find a recruiter who can handle the job, go with your instincts. Don’t just hire him—keep him as an ongoing partner.
We invite you to share your own advice and experiences with selecting or hiring a recruiting firm.