10. Set a salary scale that is appropriate both to the job and to the market in which the executive search is being conducted. No one wants to overpay a candidate. But your pool of qualified applicants will diminish with each step down the ladder from the appropriate salary range. In many cases, you are going to be attempting to convince a candidate to leave a position in which he/she may be quite comfortable. An under-market salary will preclude viable candidates from even considering your organization.
9. Remember that you are selling your organization as much as the candidate is selling him/herself. Why should this candidate choose you if there are three possibilities on the horizon? If you have a culture of flexible hours, great benefits or a variety of growth opportunities, the interview is the time to highlight these aspects of your organization. Gone are the days when candidates wait for the offer to see the full benefits your human resources department will offer.
8. Set an hour aside for each candidate. Reserve an hour of your time for each interview. The candidate is taking time out of his or her busy schedule. The worst that can happen is that you may waste an hour of your time. However, if you engage a search firm in the first place, then, you will not have to see as many potentials before finding the new-hire of your dreams.
7. Interviewers review the candidate’s resume before and after the interview. This may seem obvious, but it is remarkable how many times an interviewer is first reading a resume at the interview. You are busy, but so is the job seeker. Show respect, and that your organization cares, by knowing the candidate’s background prior to the interview. Immediately after, write notes, when your impressions of the candidate will still be “top of mind.”
6. Choose a search firm for its knowledge of your field and its ability to find qualified candidates. Mersky, Jaffe & Associates does not throw resumes at a client to give the illusion that there is a huge pool of candidates from which to choose. We only send highly qualified candidates. If we do our job, you see fewer candidates not more.
5. Remain open-minded to candidates. There must be a level of trust in order to make the search firm-client relationship work. If the firm presents candidates, do not listen to hearsay about the candidate, do not do a partial online search and expect that you know everything there is to know about the candidate, and do not assume the person is not qualified. You should give each candidate a fair chance.
4. Be prepared for candidates who do their own due diligence. A strong candidate will research and probe into the pros and cons of the position as much as the organization is probing his/her background – if not more. Have your house in order. Do a web search of your organization. What face are you presenting to the outside world? On a side note, prospective donors will often do the same thing before contributing money.
3. Return feedback in a timely manner to the executive search firm. You may want to run your thoughts by a few co-workers or board members before making a decision, but a good candidate doesn’t last long on the market. He/she may be interviewing at multiple organizations and no matter how strong the opportunity may be; an offer in hand is definitely worth more than 2 in possibilities. By working with your executive search counsel, you will be able to continue the communications with those candidates who still interest you and allow those who do not to pursue other opportunities.
2. Interviewers listen to the candidates. There is no doubt that you should sell your organization to the candidate. But, as the interviewer, you should not do the majority of talking. You are there to ask questions and offer the candidate a place to learn about you and your agency. If you are talking too much, it is easy to lose sight of the reason you are there; to find out about the candidate. And, astute candidates will feel that if they were to come to work with you, they may never be able to get a word in edgewise.
1. Understand the limitations of your organization and the position. Knowing your agency, its place in the market and the place in the organization where the position fits, will allow you to set realistic expectations of the candidates that you see. Believing you are the New England Patriots and can get a coach like Bill Belichick, when you are a rural high school will only set you up for disappointment.
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Note: this post was originally published in 2006