When hiring for executive positions, employers are sometimes less stringent throughout the vetting process. The erroneous assumption is that individuals who hold executive positions are automatically trustworthy. Or, that a typical employee screening will be sufficient.
Sometimes executives are treated as if their experience, connections, education and charisma make up for any minor shortcomings. But recruiting executives is a sizeable company investment.
And taking a lackadaisical approach to filling executive positions is not only a costly financial mistake; it can damage your company’s reputation as well.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” Are you willing to throw away your company’s reputation by placing it in untrustworthy hands?
You don’t want to recruit executives with your blinders on. Instead, consider these ways to objectively and meticulously vet senior executives.
Go Beyond the Basics
Once you’ve narrowed your list of potential executive candidates, don’t overlook basic screening practices.
In fact, take them a step further.
You’ll still want to verify degree completion, professional licensure, employment history, and all that’s necessary to effectively carry out duties related to the position.
But by going a step further, you can also investigate any undisclosed information, such as past or existing lawsuits, fraudulent activity, criminal activity, and so forth. Your aim is to reduce risk and verify truths.
Did sales really increase by 400% under their management? Were employees truly more motivated and productive? Or did this candidate sneakily embezzle company funds? You won’t know with certainty until you do the research.
Screening executives’ character might make you feel invasive, but it’s necessary.
As we’ve seen with national and international companies, executive decision-making needs to be grounded in integrity. Otherwise, scandals ensue. Whether beefing up earnings reports, skirting around environmental protection standards, or manipulating investors, individual character influences all three.
When vetting executives, it’s just as important to thoroughly engage professional referrers as you would for every other position. Once you’ve obtained a list of names and contact information from your executive candidate, you’ll want to go beyond superficial inquiries.
This might involve asking more poignant questions, like:
- How does this person solve company problems under pressure?
- What feeling do you get when this candidate walks into the room?
- If you were appointed president of a different company, would you want this person reporting to you?
- How many corners does this person cut to meet company expectations?
Within reason and with respect, these and similar questions can help position your company to avoid damaging scandals.
When focusing on credentials, impeccable profits returns, technical skills, and soaring sales, it’s possible to overlook an executives’ mastery of interpersonal skills.
Some call it emotional intelligence, others, soft skills, but however you label it, does your candidate work well with others? Being volatile, too involved, or uninvolved can cause confidence in upper management to wane.
Here are some examples:
- Overconfidence can cloud an executive’s judgment and cause them to lead employees away from the company’s mission.
- If your candidate is described as a tyrant, that management style can snuff out creativity and even hinder productivity.
- Historically, has your candidate kept pertinent individuals informed about shifts and needs within the company, or do they try to handle everything on their own?
- Is your candidate resistant to feedback, or do they listen with calm, and then make changes, if necessary?
If your candidate has valued colleagues and subordinates in the past, it’s likely they’ll do the same going forward.
These qualities are typically developed over time. So as you research your candidate’s fit, take a broad approach. Consider speaking to individuals this person worked with before becoming an executive.
Multiple Interviews: Traditional or Innovative
At this level of candidacy, it’s likely that you’ll meet with interviewees multiple times. Due to technological advancements, you can carry out this task without flying them in from across the country or sea – at least not initially.
Consider conducting initial interviews via the internet – Skype works well and most potential candidates should have no problems interviewing in this manner. If nothing else, candidates’ response to technical difficulties can offer great insight into their problem-solving skills.
Over to you – what’s your process for vetting senior executives?