When it comes to hiring key people to your team, you tend to get what you deserve in terms of the process you apply… Of course, this can be a good thing or a bad thing, but to make sure it’s a positive result you really need to get inside the thinking of the great candidates that you want to hire!
The best executives ask the same types of questions, so a lot of your appeal to them will depend on how succinctly you can respond to their enquiries – and the more ‘candidate-ready’ you are, the more they will buy into your story. Ideally this is captured in a clear IM (information memorandum) and Performance Profile to show you are serious about making the right decision and well-prepared to do so.
Our 20 question eBook (see link at end of this blog) has a more fulsome list of things you need to consider before you hire.
1. What is the challenge or problem you are trying to solve by hiring for this role?
Candidates want to know whether they are walking into a new role, replacement or change of direction. No smart executive expects to walk into a perfect world – and they also tend to like solving problems, so you need to be clear on the challenges of the role and any internal or external roadblocks that need to be overcome. Sugar-coating is not going to go down well with the real A-Graders and they may use this question as a gateway to asking more about your business strategy.
2. What is your positioning and key points of difference?
The best talent will always be thinking ‘compared to what’. They will have have multiple employment options and want to know how you are different in a way that matters to customers (and your strategy to exploit this). Maybe positioning is a challenge for your business, so be up-front if that is one of the problems you would like them to help you solve, because A-Graders will always ask you the question. It’s when the response doesn’t add up that they start to ‘mark you down’ as a prospective employer
3. How will you measure and know that I have done a great job for you?
Too often we see companies go to market with a list of functions and tasks that they want a new executive to take on without clarifying the specific outcomes they are trying to achieve. It seems so obvious (and a Performance Profile will help you do this), but if a candidate does not ask you this question, they’re unlikely to have the performance focus that you need to take your business forward.
4. How will you reward me if and when I achieve the outcomes you are after, or outperform your expectations?
This is a likely follow on to the measurement question from an A-Grader. And it’s one you want to hear in that sequence, rather than the ‘How much does the position pay’ question that inferior candidates might ask? It highlights how important it is for you to have a clear remuneration and incentive plan before you go to market. It may be ok to tweak this in negotiations, but you should have done the work heading into the recruitment process and having no position or saying ‘we will work it out later’ will disadvantage you against the competition in the race for the right talent.
5. How do you see this role fitting into your structure and with the other key people in your team?
Whether a new or replacement role, great executives want to understand communication and reporting lines, including any prior gaps, duplication or handover points in terms of responsibilities and accountability. They will also want to understand the personalities and tendencies of the people they report directly to, especially if you are a business owner working in the business.