When you’re running a business, hiring decisions are some of the most important ones you can make. When you fill a vacancy, if you get the right candidate they can have a huge effect on your business, well beyond the easily quantifiable boost to your bottom line.
When you’re hiring for executive positions this is even more important: a good executive hire can inspire a complete culture change at your company, as they bring in fresh ideas and a strong sense of leadership. A bad one can lead to lost productivity and demoralisation across the entire business. It can even cause people to leave: established members of staff have to work harder to compensate for poor decisions from the new Executive, they burn out, lose faith and move on. As your experienced staff members are your greatest resource, retaining them should be a priority, and that means making the right decisions when you make your hires.
The first step is go to the experts. There are plenty of high end recruiters. If you look in London, Executive Search firms are everywhere, seemingly. Finding the right one is a task in itself, but when you’ve researched firms that work within your specific niche, asked your professional peers for recommendations and warnings, and spoken with directly, you should have found a firm you can work with productively over the course of many years and many hires.
That’s not the end of the story, of course. When you’re hiring, you need a clear idea of the person you need. A recruitment firm can help to guide you in this, with reference to the market, and the skills and qualities expected of people in similar roles, but you have to be specific to your business. If you’re planning a confident period of expansion, that will require a very different person than you’d hire to oversee a period of retrenchment and focussing on your core strengths.
You can use your interview to be sure you’ve got the right person. You should know from their CV if they are qualified to work with you. The interview is about deciding on the ‘intangibles’ – the chemistry they have with you, whether they’d work well with your office culture, if they are, in all ways, a good fit.
Try to make sure your interview process is open and unintimidating. You’re trying to have a conversation rather than an interrogation, and give them plenty of room to ask questions of you. If they ask a lot about the company and your plans, you know they’re invested in working with you!