Hiring for any position is no easy task, but any hiring manager will agree that when it comes to filling a senior position, the stakes are undoubtedly higher. No two candidates are ever the same, and there is no guarantee that someone who has performed spectacularly in one company will find the same level of success as yours. So how do you identify your best fit?
To offer some guidance, 13 professionals from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) share the lessons they’ve learnt when hiring for a senior position.
Never hire out of desperation
No matter how swamped you are, hiring to fill a role quickly is inadvisable. You may get lucky with a snap decision, but a poor candidate can set you and your company back significantly. A little extra time spent on careful deliberation will save you money and the need for damage control further down the road.
Consider their values
Look for someone whose values and work ethics are aligned with those of your team. Someone who is used to pulling an all-nighter will not merge well with a company that has an informal “No work after office hours” policy. Misalignment of values and expectations is a breeding ground for office disputes, and you may end up having more work dealing with complaints from the ground in the long run.
Ensure you’re thrilled with them
You want to be on the lookout for that “aha!” moment, especially with a senior hire. Their level of experience means that your expectations can and should be higher than for an entry-level applicant, and if they’re not checking all your boxes it’s probably best to hold out for someone who will.
Hold multiple interviews
Of course, that is not to say that you should hire based on first impressions. Holding multiple interviews is the best way to delve into their character and experiences, and will help you build a tentative rapport with the applicant. Candidates tend to be more at ease during their second and third interviews, and these are great opportunities to really get to know the person you might be hiring.
Add a personal touch
Unlike an entry-level applicant, someone with a higher level of experience is going to be looking for more than just a launchpad. Getting rid of the standard form responses and reaching out to them directly will show them how serious you are, and how much their experience is valued. After all, you are looking for someone who will dedicate themselves to the company, and the best way to start a genuine relationship is to assure the potential candidate that they are worth your time and effort.
Look within the company
Before you start shopping around for your next executive, look at your existing pool of employees. Chances are you have someone with potential right under your nose, and all they need is to be shown the ropes. The benefits of filing a position from your existing ranks are that they are already familiar with the company and its practices, and retention rates tend to be higher.
Find someone your employees will respect
If you do decide to promote from within your company, be sure to choose someone who is respected and well-liked. Bear in mind though that this is not a popularity contest. While it is important that whoever you chose to promote has some rapport with their peers, you also have to be sure that they are competent enough to get the job done, and that they are in good enough standing with the team to inspire confidence. The support of the team is crucial to ensure the success of the candidate.
Look for a history of loyalty
Ultimately, you’ll want someone who is dedicated and will survive the transition to your company, so look for someone who has a good track record in their previous positions. That way you can be sure that they’ll stick around, or at the very least, they’ll give it the old college try.
Understand their goals
Dig deeper into their experiences, and know what you’re looking for
Job titles aren’t synonymous across companies and industries, so get a good understanding of your candidate’s previous roles and responsibilities, and how well these are aligned to your needs. What were their day-to-day tasks? What was the size of the team they were heading? An executive at a start-up will not have the same skill-set as an executive from a large corporation. But don’t be seduced by a flashy resume. Instead, keep your team’s requirements in mind, and think about what leadership style they’ll work best with.