Secrets of the Executive Search ExpertsBy Christian Schoyen and Nils Rasmussen
Part I Executive Search Research Methodology 1
Chapter 1 Beginning the Search and Defining the Job 3
Defining the Job 7
Chapter 2 Identifying the Candidate Sources 13
Selecting Likely Industries 13
Identifying Target Companies 14
Sourcing for Specific Individuals 15
Time Schedule 17
Chapter 3 Identifying Specific Candidates 19
Documentation (Recording Information) 29
Modern Electronic Search Systems 35
Candidate Backgrounds (Resumes ) 40
Chapter 4 Interviewing and Screening 42
Basic Screening 42
Candidate Development 43
The Face-to-Face Interview 44
Written Presentation of Candidates 52
Chapter 5 Reference Checks 61
Resume Inflation 62
Preliminary Reference Check 63
Regular Reference Check 65
Reference Report 67
Chapter 6 Closing the Search 73
Closing Out Candidates and Sources 73
Closeout File 74
Part II The Executive Search Profession 79
Chapter 7 Working With an Executive Search Firm 81
Categories of Recruiting Firms 81
How Much Will It Cost? 83
How to Select an Executive Search Firm 84 Working With the Executive Search Firm 87
Your Role in the Search Process Versus
the Executive Search Firm's Role 88
Chapter 8 Interview With the Experts 90
Henrietta Dacis, Research Director
Korn/Ferry International 90
Justin Carpenter, Research Manager
A. T. Kearney Executive Search 92
Doug Smith, Managing Director
Ward Howell International 96
AcknowledgmentsThis book has been made possible thanks to important contributions and guidance from several people in the field of executive search. We especially want to thank Research Director Henrietta Davis and partner Andrew Knox at Korn/Ferry International in Century City, California; Research
Manager Justin Carpenter at A. T. Kearney Executive Search in London; and Practice Leader for Ward Howell International's Automotive Group, Doug Smith.
In addition we want to thank the 145 researchers and associates world- wide who have also contributed valuable information on how they each conduct research. These professionals work in a total of thirty countries in three of the leading executive search firms in the world:
▲ Korn/Ferry International
▲ Ward Howell International
▲ A. T. Kearney Executive Search
Thanks to the insight of all these experienced people we have been able to create an easy-to-use and extremely efficient and professional model for executive search research.
IntroductionThe goal of this book is to provide human resource professionals and managers with a unique tool that explains how the leading executive search experts work. This book combines the long-kept secrets of the modern executive search experts with today's user-friendly information technology, in a domestic and global perspective. By understanding this work model, you can improve your own routines for hiring new executive, managerial, and professional staff by applying some or all of the methods yourself or you can simply better understand your search firm and thereby be able to work with them for optimal results.
The recruiting methods described in this book are based on executive search methodology, proven to be the most effective and thorough way to recruit the best talents. Executive search aims at tracking down and recruiting people who are doing a great job in their current companies. Because of their superior performance, they are usually well respected and integrated into their existing work environment, and therefore not actively looking for new jobs. These individuals do not regularly read the job ads in the classifieds and therefore need to be identified and then approached on a direct, individual basis.
Executive search has long traditions, going all the way back to the1920s in the United States, and with time, the work models have changed from being mysterious to becoming a structured process that can be learned by any qualified person. This change has now opened up a new door in terms of finding the best way to recruit executives, managers, and professionals. In theory, you should always be able to fill your open positions with the best possible talents, as long as you have something attractive to offer them and an effective recruiting strategy.
The focus of this book, executive search research--also called the back- bone of executive search--is to identify and screen highly qualified candidates. Throughout time, the profession of executive research has under- gone dramatic changes. So far, three distinct phases have taken place. They Introduction are referred to as first-generation, second-generation, and third-generation research. In the early days, first-generation research depended largely on personal contacts within the headhunter's limited personal network, also referred to as "the old-boys' network." Later, second-generation research was supplemented by the use of published secondary sources and circulation lists of particular business companies and alumni. Third-generation research is now practiced in most modern search firms, and involves a systematic and creative cross-checking of a variety of sources through various directories (published and online), cold-calling, and telephoning existing contacts. Due to the dramatic changes in research and how it is being conducted, the sources of the names on the target list (list of potential candidates and sources) have to a great extent changed. As the target list contains the names to be contacted in the search, it also becomes the parameter by which the historical changes in research can be measured.
In the 1950s, during the early days of organized headhunting, all the names on the target fist came from the old-boys' network. Recent surveys show that as many as 85 percent of the names on certain target lists now evolve from original research and published information (names originating from research and not a personal network), and only 15 percent from the old- boys' network. Figure 1 shows the evolution of executive search research in the United States, the most competitive and advanced headhunting market in the world.
Figure 1 The evolution of executive search research in the United States Today's information society enables modern executive search re-searchers, consultants, and other recruiting specialists to work in a borderless world, with access to information on prospects and target companies at the click of a button. In earlier years, it was necessary to use different interfaces and access gates, but today most information databases can be reached through the Internet. This breakthrough in advanced and user- friendly technology has resulted in faster searches and a broader coverage of markets in a shorter period of time. The challenge that remains, in order to come up with the best available and interested candidates, is to take full advantage of all the opportunities that the information society offers. When we do so, we can expect the first part of the search process to require less time. At the same time, the value of the old-boys' network used for candidate identification decreases.
The new executive search process, also referred to as "fourth-generation research," is strongly technology-driven, something that will become increasingly evident within the next few years. Fourth-generation research will require more interpersonal and technical skills and a more structured way of working than in previous generations of research and, unlike earlier old-boys' headhunting, the techniques can be learned. As a client you will, by watching and learning how to conduct fourth-generation research, realize that modern executive search is not mysterious anymore, but rather a very effective way to recruit based on a proven, logical step-by-step process supported by the effective use of new information technology.
How This Book Is StructuredPart I, "Executive Search Research Methodology," consists of six chapters that explain in detail how to complete a candidate search. The various chapters cover both the basic steps and the written documentation produced. The executive search research process is divided into seven major steps. These steps are explained in detail hn the six chapters, which take the process from step one, defining the job, all the way to the final steps,placing the candidate and closing the files. The resources for actual company and candidate research (steps 2 and step 3) are found in Part III,
"Online Research." For specific countries that you are working on, please refer to the company profiles in Part IV. In Part II, "The Executive Search Profession," Chapter 7 explains what to look for when you have decided to use an executive search firm. In addition, you learn what to expect during the recruitment process in terms of follow-ups, written documentation, and quality of candidates. You also get insight to your role during the course of the search and how you and the executive search firm can work together for optimal results. Chapter 8 presents three superior professionals from three of the world's leading executive search firms--Korn/Ferry International, A.T. Kearney Executive Search, and Ward Howell International--who answer the most frequently asked questions relating to their specific areas of expertise. The whole executive search process is described in detail. The four chapters that make up Part Ⅲ, "Online Research," describe a wide variety of online research resources in detail. Part Ⅲ starts with an overview of the major categories of resources, helping you to select the best tools for each information search. Then, it explains six recommended steps for online research, followed by a selection of the thirty-two most popular business research databases, with a short description of each. The book explains how the two leading commercial online services (America Online and CompuServe) can be used in research and provides an in-depth description of research on the Internet. The latter goes into detail on how to search for information in the Cyberspace jungle and contains an overview of numerous exciting and helpful new research tools that have become available for Internet research.
The country profiles in Part IV give you unique and detailed information to be used in both domestic and international searches. In addition to describing the key directories and databases in several major countries worldwide, each country profile also gives you inside information on cultural factors affecting executive search. The "Culture" section gives information about legal constraints that apply when asking questions of candidates and sources. Information is also provided regarding what countries that are similar so you can broaden your search for candidates. The country profiles also contain a geographic map, a list of major city centers and industries, and key country facts.
Finally, the appendix contains a list of technology and industry terms, Internet statistics, and access providers, and a list of codes for sorting and storing resumes (curricula vitae, or CV). The most common terms used in executive search and within this particular recruitment industry are explained in the glossary. And a listing of human resources and technology books that cover different aspects of the recruitment process can be found in the bibliography.
Part IExecutive Search Research Methodology
Beginning the Search and Defining the Job
To be a good hunter in the recruitment process, you must be both a good judge of character and a good researcher. For research is the backbone of the search process, involved in almost every step. The focus of this book is on research and the resulting written documentation.
The research techniques described in this book apply throughout the world, but sometimes must be adapted to suit the cultural differences in different countries. These differences (and how to deal with them) are explained in each country's "Culture" section in the country profiles in Chapter 13. Also, the directories you use to compile information about companies and people will, of course, be different from country to country (with exception of the global directories provided by companies such as Dun & Bradstreet, Wards, and Gayle Research, which cover almost all countries on just one CD-ROM).
At some executive search firms the recruitment consultant personally does all the research, while other firms have professional researchers who assist in the process. In some firms, researchers participate in every step of the process, while at others they just make target lists, and might not even speak to the potential candidates or sources on the telephone. In some executive search firms, there might be a hierarchy of people involved in the process--research analyst, junior researcher, senior researcher, associate, principal, consultant, and such--with each person having specific duties.
In other places there might be just one consultant who does everything. While who does what may differ from firm to firm, the steps presented here are universal, so rather than get involved in division of tasks, we focus on the process itself.
The methodology presented in this book is based on search. As the target group in search is usually higher level executives who, in most cases, are not looking for jobs, the challenge of tracking down Mr. or Ms. Right is a big one. To be successful at executive search research, you must be determined to crack each problem, using all the initiative and imagination at your disposal. If you knock on the front door and get turned away, you should not feel that you are stuck---you just have to climb through the kitchen window. To be successful you have to be persistent, very creative, quick, and extremely professional in your approaches and conduct. Also, keep in mind that research is an art and not a science. While gathering information you must speak to many people--both potential sources and candidates. You must remember to treat everyone you speak to with courtesy and decency, as you never know where you might run into your contacts again. The ultimate goal is to find a sufficient number of qualified and interested candidates, and to complete the process both quickly and professionally. Therefore, it is important that you follow certain basic steps to select the best available candidates.
The flow and logical sequence of the various activities in the executive search research process are shown in Figure 1.1. The way the flowchart works is very simple: The flow keeps going down until the search is filled (search is closed). A key rule is to keep working on finding candidates
Figure 1.1 The executive search process
Beginning the Search and Defining the Job until the final candidate has accepted and signed. If all the people on the target list have been contacted, new sources and candidates must be identified. If everyone rejects the position for the same reason--for example, too low a salary--it might be necessary to make changes by increasing the salary or lowering the requirements and thereby revising the position specification (see Figure 1.2).
Figure 1.2 The key areas in executive search research
1. Defining the job.
Situation Analysis. Meeting of minds between client and consultant regarding what they are looking for.
2. Identifying candidate sources.
Making a task plan regarding the time frame for the search, where to look for the right candidate, selecting industries, what companies to look into, and what individuals to speak with.
3. identifying specific candidates.
The process of identifying potential candidates is called sourcing, which is best accomplished by speaking to key people who are in the target group and asking them for "assistance."
4. Telephone interview and screening.
Interviewing potential prospects on the telephone and obtaining the information to decide
A written document, the position specification describing the full picture--company, position, and requirements. At the same time a template with only the requirements is made, which is later used for screening. An alphabetic target list with the names of companies and people you are going to source. The list should be sorted according to company, and alphabetized according to potential candidates last names. In this format, the calling list can be utilized as a "log."
During sourcing, the comments made by the people being contacted should be recorded in the log, with dates and correct "code." This means if a source, for example, becomes a candidate, the coding and group that this particular individual belongs to will change.
Use the template you made in Step 1 and compare it with the prospect's background. it is also
Figure 1.2 (Continued)
Documentation Created whether they remain on the list. If the candidates remain on the list, begin gathering more information.
5. In-person interview and screening.
Verification of facts concerning a candidate by face-to-face interview
Getting a sense of the personality.
Finding out more about the candidate through questions and your own judgment to determine whether the person fits and moves to the next level.
6. Preliminary and regular reference check.
Preliminary checking of a candidate is conducted before the client interview by discreetly speaking to a few people for an insider idea of the person. A regular reference check is conducted after the client interview. At this stage, there is extensive questioning of several people whom the candidate is working or has worked for.
7. Closing the search (closeout).
After a successful placement of the candidate, all sources and unsuccessful candidates are contacted to tie up the loose ends.
All the necessary documentation is placed in the closing file. helpful to have prospective candidates explain to you how they feel their background fits your position specifications. if it is still not clear whether the prospects are on target, then you can go through the template with them over the phone. These notes should be stapled to the resume
Those candidates who are on target should be written up in an extensive report describing persona traits, work history, and personal observations made by the interviewer. The documentation regarding the work history is called a career brief. The documentation portraying a more personal picture of the candidate is called the appraisal. This document seeks to explain where the person is coming from, why certain choices were made in life, strengths and weaknesses, and the interviewer's assessment.
The questions being asked during the regular reference check are basically the same for everyone. A the replies from the references are recorded, as stated, in a reference report.
The various people that you have closely interacted with during the search get a letter stating the appreciation for their time and/or interest in the search or position.
These acknowledgment letters are called closeout letters.
Beginning the Search and Defining the Job
Defining the Job
The first major activity in the search process is defining the job. This step sets the tone for all that follows. Preparing a job description is where all the discussions between client and consultant (if the company has decided to use outside help) about job requirements, organizational relationships, and cultural issues are crystallized. So that it does not give people the wrong picture, the job description must be accurate and well written. It is always important to gather information from all parties involved: (1) the person leaving the position; (2) the person that the new employee will report to; (3) coworkers; and (4) people reporting to the new employee. By gathering the necessary information from these four groups, you ensure that the picture of the situation is accurate.
The job description is a written document that should be extensive enough to give potential sources and candidates a clear and informative picture of the company, the position to be filled, and the requirements.
Written documentation is a tool for everyone in the process: the company with the recruitment need, the consultant and researcher (if you are using outside help), the client, sources, and potential candidates. It is very important to conduct sufficient research so that you are able to write the documentation, answer questions from sources and candidates, and conduct an extensive search in the market. Keep in mind that even though you might know all the answers to the different topics, you still have to cover everything. The first documentation, which is based on the following required information, is called situation report documentation:
The Company▲ Historical background, development
▲ Plant and office locations, affiliations, number of employees
▲ Organizational structure (organization chart)
▲ Product lines, sales volume, market share
▲ Profitability; past, current, and projected rate of growth
▲ Strengths and weaknesses of the company
▲ What is the company culture like?
▲ Why has the vacancy arisen?
▲ If a person was previously in this position, where did he or she go?
▲ What background did this person have?
▲ Why has the position not been filled internally?
▲ Is there something unusual about this position?
- What efforts have been made to fill the position and why have they failed?
The Position▲ Title of position
▲ Responsibilities, functions, duties, and accountabilities
▲ Objectives and time frames in which to achieve them
▲ Organization charts of whole company and relevant department or division (showing functional as well as hierarchical relationships)
▲ The challenge and attractions of the job (including compensation package)
▲ What company policies and practices will affect the jobholder?
▲ What are the personalities of the people with whom the jobholder will be in contact?
▲ What are the future opportunities for the person appointed, and over what time scale?
▲ Supervisor and subordinates and their qualifications and experience
▲ Geographic restraints
The 1deal Candidate (Identify the ideal candidate's qualities on two levels: essential and desirable)
▲ Education and paper qualifications
▲ Language requirements
▲ Personal qualities
▲ Skills required
- What type of company culture would you expect the person to come from (or not to come from)?
Target Companies and Positions: Where Might This Person Be Found?
▲ Names and divisions of companies
▲ Geographic locations
▲ Sales volume
▲ Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) and function codes
▲ Number of employees
▲ Possible title(s)
▲ Possible level(s)
Beginning the Search and Defining the Job
Important: Until everything is completely clear, continue to go back to the involved parties to get your questions answered. Make sure that every requested piece of information on the foregoing list is covered.
By now, your understanding of the situation should be good enough for you to write the position specification/candidate profile (see Figure 1.3).
Figure 1.3 Position specification and candidate profile
DIRECTOR, MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Our client is one of the leading manufacturers of belt buckles in the world and is a publicly held company (NYSE). The company sells its premium products exclusively through its own network of stores. With more than a century-long history of making belt buckles, the company has successfully built a strong reputation in the market- place for being the highest caliber manufacturer of its type.
The company is headquartered in Chicago and owns a total of thirty stores throughout the United States and abroad, all situated in metropolitan cities, with a total of 3,000 employees. The buckles are manufactured at the company's own production and distribution site in Florida. The company also has a mail-order facility based in Chicago. Currently annual sales are reported at one billion dollars (1995), with a high growth rate. The U.S. stores are responsible for 20 percent of the company's sales, while mail order consist of 10 percent, and international of 70 percent.
The company has a 70 percent market share.
Our client's biggest challenge is to remain the market leader by being innovative and delivering the highest possible quality, with minimal expenses, and the highest degree of service to its customers.
The Director of MIS will be in charge of managing a team providing the company with strategies, development, and implementation of information systems that are cost-effective, efficient, with current and emerging technologies to support decision- making requirements, goals, and plans. A major focus will be to improve and maximize the use of a newly installed system, which links Inventory, Finance, Sales, and Manufacturing.
The Director of-MIS will have a staff of five and report to the Vice President,
Finance and Administration.
▲ Develop and manage the implementation of the company's high-tech information systems.
▲ Determine and recommend for approval information systems policies, standards, practices, and security measures that ensure effective and consistent information processing and the safeguarding of the information resources,
▲ Research and direct the continual upgrading of the information system staff, equipment, and procedures to maintain pace with technological progress, economic change, and business needs.
▲ in an emerging outsourcing environment, manage the relationship with the out- sourcing partners.
- Create special assignments and projects based on needs of teams from multi iocations.
EXPERIENCE AND BACKGROUND REQUIRED
▲ A minimum of ten years business experience with a broad understanding of allbusiness functional areas and their relationships to information systems.
▲ A proven track record of systems project management experience with a blend of technical and business skills.
▲ Knowledge of structured analysis and design to conduct system reviews. Such are view would consider the accuracy and completeness of deliverables in each development phase.
▲ Knowledge of data communication capabilities in order to understand line types, protocols, and equipment used so those characteristics could be considered in system design.
▲ Must have experience in successfully implementing a computer system in a multi-site environment that centralized the functions of inventory and finance.
An undergraduate degree is required, preferably in one of the computer or information technology sciences. An MBA is very desirable, although not required.
A highly competitive base compensation plus 50 percent bonus opportunity in addition to client's executive level stock option and benefits programs.
PROCEDURE FOR CANDIDACY: Send resumes or nominations as soon as possible
ABC Headhunting, Inc.
270 N. Canon Drive, Suite 1166
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Beginning the Search and Defining the Job
This written documentation, which you will share with potential sources and candidates, should not cover all the information that you put into the situation report documentation. Sometimes you do not want to use the company name in the written documentation that you mail out. It is difficult to conduct this mail-out yourself with full discretion if you are not using an executive search firm. Also keep in mind when creating the document that readers want something that is short and to the point, yet contains enough information to interest them (or screen them out if they do not have the right background). As a rule you should never send out written documentation that contains confidential information. To prevent mistakes and at the same time ensure that you are on the right track, the documentation must always be approved by the new employee's superior before it can be sent out to any potential sources or candidates.
Frequently a search changes direction. Be prepared to change the course if necessary. Keep in mind that anything can change during a search: new reporting relationships, a new compensation scheme, or a new set of performance objectives for the position. You therefore have to be flexible so you can resolve new recruitment issues.
From the situation report you need to make a template for the search, which helps you to screen people (see Figure 1.4). With this simplified form, all you need to do when speaking to people you want to screen is to go down the items and write yeses and nos. Getting all yeses meansyou are on target.
Executive Search Research Methodology
Ten Years Business information Systems
Cobol Generation Tools
Novell Networks Tools
Project/Team Management Experience
Outsourcing Management Experience
Types of Companies
Identifying the Candidate
It is important to prepare a formal task plan to guide yourself through the search for Mr. or Ms. Right. This plan serves as a road map in developing the proper approach to conducting research suitable to the particular assignment. The task plan need not be voluminous or complicated. Its purpose is to define the various activities and sources of information to be used in completing the research.
Most task plans consist of at least four major elements:
1. Selecting likely industries
2. Identifying target companies
3. Sourcing for specific individuals
4. Time schedule
Selecting Likely IndustriesThe first step is to select likely industries. You should look first at competitors of the company for which you are recruiting. But keep in mind that other related industries or, in some cases, totally unrelated industries can also be likely sources for the talent(s) that you are seeking. These should be discussed with all parties involved in the search. A wide selection of target industries will broaden the pool of potential candidates. But focusing on more than just one industry can be very time-consuming. To best under-stand where to look for candidates, it is helpful to think of circles representing places to look. This idea, called the logic of concentric circles, is represented in Figure 2.1. As the main goal is generally to find the best possible candidates in the shortest period of time, when selecting likely industries, it is best to concentrate on the center of the logic of concentric circles where direct competitors are located, then similar or parallel industries. Finally,
States, directories exist that list all of the associations in the country, while in smaller countries such as Norway or Sweden, you must look in the yellow pages of the telephone book.
After the target industries have been selected, you must identify specific companies where potential candidates can be found. It is important to understand how the company size affects the search and at what level your target person is located. If the company with the recruitment need is looking at a target company of the same size, the target person in this company should be located one level down. On the other hand, if your target company is smaller than the company for which you are recruiting, you can focus on the same-level position. When the company for which, you are recruiting is extremely popular to work for, such as Harley David- son, these rules do not necessarily apply. Normally the thinking is that you approach people to whom you can offer something better. In other words, put yourself in the shoes of the candidates. Why change jobs? What is the catch? Keep in mind that the various companies might be using different titles for the same position. If you are dealing with just a few companies, be careful not to contact too many people in the same company without some pre-research.
If possible, all target industries should be identified with the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code. For a complete breakdown and explanation of each SIC-code group, consult the Standard Industrial Classifications Manual, published by National Technical Information Service (NTIS). It is also important to keep in mind that certain industries or segments are so specialized that you will not be able to find the exact SIC code. In that case, you have to go for the parent group and then do a manual sorting.(Note: At this writing, the SIC codes are being replaced with NAICS [North American Industry Classification System] codes. Manuals for both SIC and NAICS codes can be obtained through the NTIS Web site at www.ntis.gov / sic and www.ntis.gov/naics , respectively.) As a rule, the more selective you are in your search, the more selective (specific) your results will be.
In order to be specific, you should, if possible, know:
▲ SIC code (industry code; found by looking up the company forwhich you are recruiting)
▲ Size of the company (range)
▲ Geography (location of target company)
important: When looking for target companies, use more than just one directory or source. Keep in mind that one directory might be missing important information that you can find in another directory.
Identifying the Candidate SourcesAll countries have published directories with key information on the major companies in the respective country (there is an extensive listing with description in each country profile in Chapter 13). The information providers in each country sometimes offer a variety of media where you can access their company information. The most common media are:
In addition, sometimes the providers offer manual consulting services, meaning that for a certain cost they can do the search job for you (finding companies).
The fourth element is the time schedule. Every step of the process must be completed as quickly as possible. But, it is still important to set goals as to when you should complete each step. The faster you get going, the better you feel. A fast start-up is the goal. It is important to concentrate on compiling the target list before you start the calling, as this will save you time. Then, if you plan to undertake a mailing, it should be done immediately. If you plan to ease up, it should not be until after the mailing.
Figure 2.2 Time schedule
┃ Search ┃ ┃ ┃ Candidate ┃interviews ┃
┃Definition ┃Target List ┃Sourcing ┃Development ┃and Closing ┃
┃ (2 days) ┃ (2 days) ┃(10 days) ┃ (6 days) ┃ (ongoing) ┃
┃Activities: ┃Activities: ┃Activities: ┃Activities: ┃Activities: ┃
┃Interview key ┃Create list of ┃Contact ┃Follow-up ┃Interviews by ┃
┃ people at ┃ all the ┃ everyone on ┃ and ┃ consultant ┃
┃ the client ┃ companies ┃ target list. ┃ development ┃ and client, ┃
┃ company to ┃ and people ┃ Leave a ┃ of prospects ┃ then closing ┃
┃ get an ┃ you are ┃ maximum of ┃ (including ┃ of search ┃
┃ accurate ┃ going to ┃ two ┃ rejections) ┃ when ┃
┃ picture of ┃ source. ┃ messages. ┃ ┃ candidate ┃
┃ what to look ┃ (1/2day of ┃ ┃ ┃ accepts. ┃
┃ for. ┃ ┃ ┃ ┃ ┃
┃ ┃ directory ┃ ┃ ┃ ┃
┃ ┃ search, 1 1/2 ┃ ┃ ┃ ┃
┃ ┃ days of ID ┃ ┃ ┃ ┃
┃ ┃ work) ┃ ┃ ┃ ┃
The average time frame for each step in the search process is shown in Figure 2.2.
Note: In every search it is important to work backward from the completion date. This means that if you are using an external executive search consultant and he or she has promised that you will be presented with a candidate four weeks after the start of the search, the executive search consultant should meet that person at the latest three days before that date. This in turn means that the individual must have been identified and fully developed seven days earlier (telephone interview before the face- to-face interview). in order to meet this goal you must have approached all the people on the target list at least once in less than two weeks from the start of the search. Only in the first parts of the search do you have full control over time and process. it is harder to control the activity that goes on after the prospect has been interviewed face-to-face, because this is when the major decisions for both parties have to be made. it is always difficult to predict how much time people need to think things over, and how many people you need to see before you make a decision. Also, the negotiations between your company and the candidate regarding terms
can sometimes be lengthy.
Identifying Specific CandidatesThe executive search method requires you to find a small group of out- standing individuals who have interest in pursuing the opportunity that you are presenting to them. It is important that the search is comprehensive. You must utilize various sources of information, including all avail- able published directories relevant to the search, as well as industry contacts. You should also conduct extensive original research.
The first place you should start looking is in your file of previous searches. These sources may identify as many as several hundred potential candidates. But, only a small number of these people will be interviewed in person. The goal when making calls is to find quality; the bottom-line goal is to come up with the best possible candidates. How many you call or interview is less important than who you come up with. It is therefore of great importance to make quality calls. Your goal should be to come up with no more than five qualified and interested candidates at the final round. However, in order to get these numbers, you have to interact with many people.
Documentary sources are the starting point in this process. If you use an executive search firm, it should have its own extensive libraries of directories, trade journals, and publications in order to target companies and potential sources and prospects. Be aware that almost all of this information can also be found at a modern library. The higher the level of the search, the more likely you are to find a good amount of published material (directories) that will be of great help. The rule when using published material is that people high up on the corporate ladder are the easiest to identify.
Often you will find that no published material exists about your prospect--you will not even find the person's name in the listings. The best (and only reliable) way to get what you want is by picking up the phone.
This process of identifying candidates is called ID work (identification work).
ID work can be time-consuming, and thus demands persistence and a high level of creativity. A good starting point is company directories. In most cases you succeed in finding the companies through these directories.
The information that you often lack is the name or even the correct title of the person you are seeking. How long the name search will take depends very much on whom you are seeking and what codes or rules the receptionist or secretary has to follow. If you are seeking the director of manufacturing or director of human resources (HR), it will be a straight shoot. But if you try to map out a sales department, it will be trickier. To avoid wasting time, always try for the easy names first. This means you should start out with the line, "Who is the director of HR?" Do not represent yourself; just ask the question. If you are asked why you want the information, just say that you do not know yourself, as you are just an employee who has been told to do a job. This plain, straightforward approach should get you as many as 80 percent of the missing names on your list. If you focus you should be able to get the appropriate names and titles of as many as sixty to eighty people a day. For the remaining 20 percent, just try a day later with a new tack such as, you are sending a letter from your boss who is traveling and you can not remember the name and title of the person to whom you are to send the letter. On this second round, you should be able to obtain most of the remaining names. If you still have not gotten everybody, on day three you can try something like: You are calling from a consulting company and you are putting together a list of speakers for a particular symposium, and you have been told that a particular person at company X is a terrific guy, but you are not sure of his name and title.
By now you should have gotten all the names.
SourcingSourcing is the process of locating names of possible candidates by referral from others (or themselves, when contacted). You generally have to contact many people to obtain names. Some of these may be found unsuitable quickly because they do not meet the job description requirements.
Sourced names that seem to be suitable are added to a list of potential candidates for further investigation.
The first people to telephone in your source search are those who know about relevant industries and companies, such as association executives, academics who have specific knowledge about industries and key companies, accountants, attorneys, investment bankers, journalists, and
Identifying Specific Candidates business acquaintances. Or they may be people brought to your attention by third parties.
Sourcing calls are made primarily to obtain names of individuals who appear to meet the qualifications for the job that you are seeking to fill.
Sometimes you call an executive you have reason to believe may be a potential candidate. Other times, the sourcing call's purpose is to obtain the names of as many potential candidates as possible. It is also a good idea to try to get additional source names from individuals called.
After making a sufficient number of sourcing calls, you should have obtained the names of potential candidates (who will be further investigated), as well as additional sources. Names of five or more potential candidates might be obtained with a single source call, along with the names of one or two additional sources. After a number of calls have been made, you should have a network of names.
Sourcing calls make up a good deal of the workload in the search assignment. It is important to note clearly on the call list which potential sources have been contacted, so that future work when needed, can proceed based on leads not followed up the first time. It is up to your own professional judgment when enough sourcing calls have been made.
Sourcing in Small Versus Big Markets
For maximum efficiency, small markets and large markets call for different methods. One reason for this is that you usually have many more target companies to hit in a large market. tn a small market, often with just a handful of target companies, you cannot afford to do many wrong source calls in a company, or stir things up. You have to hit your target right away if possible. Wrong calls can make the word go around, and your target can easily lose interest because he or she does not feel special. Sourcing techniques must be adjusted according to the marketplace, the existing culture, and the situation at the time. Likewise, the most efficient way to conduct research in larger markets such as the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom is the straightforward approach explained in this book, where you concentrate first on finding candidates who are qualified, and you do not conduct reference checking until much later. This method often includes extensive use of mailing before calling.
In smaller markets such as Ireland, Norway, and Sweden, a helpful way to source is by careful reference checking, as you not only want names, but also would like to know beforehand who the best candidates are. In this method, it is helpful to speak to someone who just left your target company, and who happened to work in the department you were targeting for prospects or potential candidates. The goal should be to find some-one (source) who is one level above your potential target's, if this source is helpful, he or she can provide you with quality names. This method of tracking down candidates is generally too time-consuming to use in larger markets.
Both approaches are being mixed in small and big markets, although there is a tendency to lean toward a certain way to conduct the search in the specific market as explained.
Finding Sources Who Left the CompanyTalking to people who recently left the target company can help you tell the rising stars from the falling ones early in the search process. Keep in mind that it is important who your source is: A statement from a boss who recently left the company usually has a lot more validity than one from a secretary. There are two basic methods you can use to find your source:
1. Cross-check directories. Look at the executives listed in a current directory, and compare them with those listed in an earlier edition of the same directory. Names that were previously listed but are not in the newest edition are good potential sources. Next, phone the company and ask for the missing people. Pretend that you think they are still there. Tell the switchboard operator or the person in the department that you are speaking to that you used to be friends with the person, but you lost touch over the years. Keep in mind that if you get the HR department on the line the game is over, because they generally will not give out a forwarding number.
2. Connect with someone in the department that you are targeting. Tell the person at your target company that you are looking for someone that you met a while back who had told you he used to work with the target company until recently, but had recently started elsewhere. If he or she asks you why you want to know, say that it is very personal and out of respect for the person in question you do not wish to disclose any further information on the matter.
You are not 100 percent sure about the name, but you think that it may be Jim or Peter. In most cases the person will try to help you out by giving you different names of people who have left if you just keep probing. This method should only be used if nothing else works.
You should always use your real name and the company that you are calling from, if you are asked. Never pretend that you are someone else, as you can get involved in legal complications. Be persistent, polite, quick, and positive.
Mailings and Source LettersMailing the position specification to potential sources and candidates is a practice that both private companies and several executive search firms stick to religiously, while others ban it. Even some of the most prestigious executive search firms with top-notch positions do mail-outs. To obtain the best possible results, certain basic rules should be followed:
1. Protect the confidentiality of the firm. The company name should be left out if possible (this is of course difficult if the company with the recruitment need is conducting the mailing). If the recruitment is official, the position specification can be very detailed. If the opposite is the case, then you need to be careful about what information you present, as you do not want anybody to be able to guess what company it is. This confidentiality can only be ensured if an external executive search firm is conducting the mail-out.
2. The source letter must be well written. Get to the point quickly, and stick to the basics. Be sure that there are no grammatical errors in the letter.
Mistakes indicate sloppiness and give an adverse impression about you, the sender. Every source letter must be addressed to the receivers as sources. If you plan to mail a position specification to somebody at his or her workplace, be aware that the mail will likely be opened by a secretary or assistant before it reaches the target. This means that you cannot afford any misunderstandings. Even though you try to reach a target that you feel could be a great candidate, still write to him as a source. If you already have spoken to somebody who has shown great interest and wants to receive the mail at home, you can use a so-called potential candidate letter.
Keep in mind that this kind of letter can never be sent to someone's work address.
3. The receivers of the mail-out are all the people on your target list. Each mailing (envelope) should contain a source letter and a position specification.
4..Never wait for your target group to call you. Right after the creation of the target list and the mail-out, start calling. You can never afford the luxury of waiting for the mail to reach the targets.
Note: Do not call anybody before you have created the target list. It will, to a great extent, slow the process later in the search if you have to stop because you did not make a complete list in the beginning.
The PropositionBefore making any calls, it is important to make sure that you can do a good job selling both the job and the company. You must practice to the extent that you can do the pitch well and at the same time sound convincing. Do not start calling before you have it down right, as you get only one chance to make a first impression.
A good way to make sure that you get the pitch right is to write down what you want to say and practice it until you know it by heart. It will also be of great help to have this script next to you when you are working on several searches simultaneously. Let someone who is also working on the search listen to your sales pitch before you start making calls. This will help ensure that what you are saying is correct.
When making the pitch, do not trick your target by lying, just to get him on your hook. if you do so, it will only backfire later in the process.
Put yourself in the shoes of the listener. Be able to explain why your listener should be interested in the opportunity. You must be able to sell the position, which means finding a good way to trigger the listener's attention.
Keep in mind that any negative points may cause the target to decide too rapidly against what may actually be a very good opportunity.
Before you start to make calls, it is helpful to speak to someone who really knows the field for which you are recruiting. Preferably, this person should not be a candidate, as you want to determine the golden nuggets that will make someone interested in what you have to offer. Also, try to practice your pitch with this expert so you can get some feedback and make necessary adjustments.
Calling the Target ListIf you are using an outside executive search firm, the source call typically opens with the recruiters or researchers identifying themselves and their organization and asking for assistance in getting the names of prospective candidates. Usually, the job is described in general terms including the projected compensation range. This small amount of information makes it possible to screen out inappropriate candidates. If the person has been previously identified as a possible candidate, there may be some discussion of this possibility as well.
The executive search consultants and their researchers use different techniques to get data from a source or to get prospective candidates to volunteer their own names. The specific technique is not as important as the end result of securing names through forthright and ethical means.
Identifying Specific CandidatesWhen speaking to people you should have the following information handy:
▲ A questionnaire (see the section "Defining the Job" in Chapter 1) to be used during the source calls
▲ The position specification/candidate profile (see example in the section in Chapter 1 "Defining the Job")
▲ Situation report documentation (see the section "Defining the Job" in Chapter 1) and organization chart of the client company
▲ A list of potential candidates and sources (target list)
▲ A one- or two-paragraph synopsis of the client company and opportunity (the pitch)
Sourcing calls can often be time-consuming, depending on the circum- stances, your personal style and technique, and the interest and receptivity of the individual called. The overall number of calls will depend on the complexity of the search and professional judgment as to when enough names have been secured. One good rule to follow is that you should not stop searching before a candidate has accepted and signed the papers.
A major obstacle when calling is that most of the people you aim for will not be reachable. The closest you will get to them is through their voice mail, which means you are dependent on them calling you back.
Therefore, when you leave the message, make sure that it will get their attention. Keep in mind that there might already be other voice-mail messages from other recruiters when you leave yours. You want people to call you back, so make sure that you do not sound like a sales representative from a telemarketing firm. But also keep in mind that there is always a risk of a secretary or an administrative assistant listening to the recordings on the voice mail. You could be badly burned if you Leave a message giving the impression that Mr. X is job hunting. A good rule, therefore, is to approach everyone as sources when contacting them the first time, and always when leaving messages. You should always leave a message when you have the opportunity. An example of a message left with a voice mail or secretary could be:
"This is John Smith from Jones International in Los Angeles calling. I am seeking your assistance in regards to an MIS director search I am currently conducting for Belt Buckle International, based in Chicago. [If you cannot use the name of the company, use a phrase like a leading manufacturing company producing belt buckles, based in an attractive city in the Midwest']
Please call me at your earliest convenience at (555) 555-5555."
If your company is conducting all the calls itself, it is difficult to maintain full discretion. If full discretion is required, it is always better to have an outside source to assist you in the search.
Dealing With Secretaries and SwitchboardsSwitchboard operators are often the first line of inquiry when you call into a company. Some switchboard operators will talk freely about executives in their firm, while others will be very suspicious and might even transfer you directly to your target. Therefore, it is very important to be prepared for the worst. Also keep in mind that when you have made it through the switchboard, you can probe anywhere in a company for information. Be aware that you can get any information you want as long as you have what it takes: persistence, smarts, the right personality, and the requisite set of skills.
Some basic rules:
▲ Try to get the direct extension of the potential candidate and not his or her secretary's.
▲ Sound self-confident; Be decisive when talking to the secretary.
▲ Be put through by a colleague if possible.
▲ Tell the secretary that you are seeking Mr. Or Ms. X's assistance due to his or her great network in the field, to find someone for a position (you only say this line if you are being asked).
▲ Call the candidate later in the evening or early in the morning when the secretary might not be in.
There will always be several people who do not call you back. To make sure that you do not waste your time when calling, make it a rule to cover all the names on your call list at least once. Then start from the beginning again and go for round number two. Stop approaching people after leaving two messages if they have not called you back. They are blind shots and are not worth pursuing--you want motivated people as well as qualified. Most likely they are not interested in the opportunity you are presenting. But, if for some reason you know that someone is extremely appealing, you can always go a little further. If you compare it to fishing, you know that sometimes you have to fight a little harder for the big ones. But it is worth it if you catch one.
Direct Telephone Contact (Some Rules)
When you get through to the source or to potential candidates, keep in mind that these people probably get a lot of calls from people like you.
So you have to grab their attention quickly. When you speak, be as positive as possible about the assignment. Keep in mind that attitude is as important as presentation. The opening dialog could contain the following information:
▲ Executive search consultant or in charge of recruitment at Company X
▲ Currently looking for a director of manufacturing
Build up a personal relationship in the first few sentences
▲ Be short and direct; don't waste the candidate's time with explanations.
▲ Be aware that you have something to offer.
After the pitch, ask if the person would like to hear more, based on the brief information. If you feel that the person could be a candidate, mention to her that she has been highly recommended, which is why you are calling. Keep in mind that most people like to be flattered.
At this point, explain that you have heard great things, but you do not know details of her background. Before she gets a chance to answer, state the basic requirements for the position that you are looking to fill.
At this stage you use the template shown in Figure 1.4. Then pause, because this is when you will get the feedback that lets you know whether the person is a possible candidate. By this firm and direct approach you will, after a maximum of three to five minutes, know if you want to continue talking to the candidate. If you sense a potential fit, your time on stage has come and the work begins. You now not only must describe and sell the opportunity, but also get as much information as possible about the individual. This should be done by calling her at home after work. If she appears to be on target and is open to listening, keep in mind that most candidates will not say yes in the first three minutes of the conversation, as switching jobs is not like buying dinner. As this is the starting point of a relationship, you have to be the prospect's friend throughout the process.
With this attitude, you will be well respected even by the ones you reject.
If you do not know beforehand whether your contact is a source (i.e., someone who can recommend names to call) or a prospect (i.e., a potential candidate), you might close your pitch with some of these questions:
"Do you know anyone who might be qualified and interested in something like this?"
▲ "Is this an opportunity that would be appropriate for someone with your background?"
▲ "Would you be interested in learning more about this opportunity?"
▲ "The next step would be for us to get some information on your background. Can we do that while we're on the phone right now?"
Repeat anything that is not clear. Try the statement, "My understanding of what you are saying is " or "Am I understanding you correctly when you say... ?" Very often the person you are speaking to might not have a resume. If such is the case, ask him or her to prepare one. At the same time, keep in mind that the best way to get the information you need accurately and quickly is to get it over the phone. This is typically the best way to sketch someone's background.
Whenever a source refers someone, always ask for permission to use the source's name. Do not use the name if you are not sure that doing so is all right with the source. It is better to call the source back, just to double-check that you have permission. The source should certainly appreciate your conscientiousness about a matter as important as using his or her name.
You should also know that if you already have the names of prospects, sources are usually more forthcoming than if they must give the names.
Ask the source to rank them and to tell you who is bad and who is good.
This procedure works well with sources who just left a company or are still there.
In order to determine if you are dealing with the right candidates, you need to know where in the organization they stand. Therefore, it is important that you flesh out the organizational chart and clarify reporting relationships. You should ask your prospect for the titles of:
▲ His or her boss
▲ The boss's boss
▲ All direct reports and the number of people reporting to each of them
▲ Peers reporting to the same boss
If a candidate is not interested in the opportunity you present, always find out why. It may be something that can be dispelled. If not, source him for other potential candidates. If neither, leave your name and telephone number--always try if possible to get information on him or her for future reference. No matter what the outcome is, always be polite and under-
Identifying Specific Candidates standing. Most likely you will need to speak to your contact again at a later point.
Documentation (Recording Information)
When searching for the right candidate, you will deal with many telephone calls and with a lot of information pertaining to each call. To make sure that you are in full control of the situation, be sure to write everything down, including information such as:
▲ Person to speak to (full name, address at work and home, telephone numbers, title, company)
▲ Details of the conversation, with time and date
▲ When to follow up again, with time and date
▲ What category the contact is (see the section "How to Use the Codes" in this chapter)
Documentation is one of the key elements that you need to master.
You can never afford to be lazy with documentation, or you will lose the control you need in order to complete the search. Everything that you record must be identified with the year and the search. When you record summaries of the conversations you have with prospects and sources, it is very important not to generalize. Always get to the essence. Ask yourself why for every action you take. If someone declines, for example, it is not sufficient to say that he or she did not want to pursue. You have to record why he or she declined. If someone is very rude and behaves in a way that does not fit into the company's culture, you have to be specific. You could record: "He was very rude, which is why he is being declined. He made several remarks about people he worked with as being stupid and ignorant with intelligence on the level of a cow. He called his present boss a birdbrain." Even when someone is being interviewed, you should make conclusive notes. And again, you have to be specific.
If an executive search firm is involved, the researcher should pass the information or problems on to superiors; otherwise they will assume everything is fine. Furthermore, it is always better to address a problem sooner rather than later. If your sources and prospects are making the same remarks over and over, it is important to record them This way, you can document why the original compensation package needs to be increased, with comments from such-and-such--including titles and companies-ideally with information about their current compensation, plus how much it would take to talk seriously about the job. Remember that if it becomes necessary to have the job upgraded, it is important to have a good deal of data to support this move. This is just one example of why it is of such great importance to be very good at recording information throughout the course of the search.
The main purpose behind putting everything in writing is to make things easier for yourself and at the same time enable you to make maximum use of the information that you gather. You must therefore not only write down everything of importance, but also organize it so you can easily retrieve what you need. If you are using professional executive search firms, be aware that one individual consultant might be working on as many as seven or eight searches simultaneously, so the need for keeping full control of what is going on is especially great. The bottom line is that you need a good system, and you must stick to it if you are going to control the information flow. The tools described later in this chapter should help you in getting organized. But, before you start, it is important to have a system to organize every step of the process, the big overall picture. This is why there is no substitute for the log, or the cycle of the candidates, and the search folder with the candidates.
Phone Log of Source or Prospect Call SheetsPhone log and prospect call sheet documents track everyone you called in a particular search. It is helpful to organize the log when you start calling, by last name, especially if you do not use a computer system and utilize a so-called call sheet. If you use a computerized system, it is easy to run lists organized both by company and by last name. This allows you to review at a glance everyone you have spoken to at a given company or by last name. You do not have to write everything in full sentences. The main thing is to write down the most important facts, in an understandable manner. For example, if a prospect sounds good but is not interested, find out what it would take to get her interested: compensation, responsibilities, opportunities, job satisfaction, and whatever else is important. Be sure to write it down in the log. Everyone you speak to regarding a specific search should be recorded in the log. To make the log easy to retrieve at a later point, identify it with a number that pertains to the particular search. That numbered log will contain only individuals whom you have called or plan to call in reference to that particular search.
How to Use the CodesTo keep track of what stage or group the people in a search belong to at any given time, it is very important to code everyone in the log according to his or her status. This method is very common at the leading executive search firms. The codes presented in this section are being used by Ward
Howell International and many other firms. As a rule, you should change the coding (group) when you have a good indication of the next event that is going to take place. Tiffs means that if, for example, someone you speak to (coded CLM, or called and left message--these codes are explained in the cycle of candidates in Figure 3.1) tells you that he or she could be interested, the code should be immediately changed to PSP (prospect). You do not have to wait for the resume to arrive to change the code. The same goes for a prospect you have decided to interview. Even if the date has not been set, he or she immediately should be grouped as INV (interview).
This code again should change right after the interview to either CND (candidate) or INQ (interested but not qualified).
By religiously sticking to the log and the coding, you will quickly be able to tell where you stand at any point during the search. But, in order for this system to work, you must always make good notes, and always make sure that your contacts have the right coding. You will quickly be able to make reports that tell you how many candidates you have, how many you have called, how many declined, and so forth.
Manual Versus Computerized Log
At most major executive search firms, people use computerized systems, but many people at smaller firms still use manual systems such as the old-fashioned call sheets (also called contact sheets). The main objective with any system is that you record the information that you need and make the system work in the best possible manner. If you use the manual method as the log, you need to make sure that you use the same kind of call sheet for everyone (see the example call sheet in Figure 3.2). It is also of great importance that you only have one contact (person) for each call sheet.
You then need to organize every contact sheet alphabetically. All contact sheets should remain in a binder assigned to the particular search. The advantages with a manual system are that you do not need a computer, and that it is easy to use when you get many incoming calls. The drawback, however, is that you often duplicate your efforts when you later conduct a similar search. If you have engaged an executive search firm that does not have a good centralized computer system, it could be difficult to obtain an update on the search without having to go through their researcher.
Manual logs usually create double work (first handwriting and then typing), which has an adverse effect on productivity and speed. But, if you are recruiting on behalf of your own company you should not have to invest in costly software and computers in order to be successful in recruitment. You will get far with even a manual system, which is also easy to use.
Modern Electronic Search SystemsHow Electronic Systems Work
The computerized log is a more up-to-the-minute way of recording information during the search.
It is only within the last few years that modern, easy-to-use, and efficient electronic systems have been developed for use in the search business. With electronic systems it is harder to lose information.
Dependency on specific people being involved in the process is also greatly reduced. For example, a dis-functioning person or link can possibly be replaced because all the information relating to the search is stored in a central system. This is of great importance if you are the client of an executive search firm, because there is no need for you to have to hear about a dis-functioning process or a personnel situation at the search firm. But, as the rule goes for any information system, everyone must use it, or the purpose is lost. The same goes for people entering wrong or unnecessary information; as the saying goes, "garbage in, garbage out."
In order for an electronic system to work well, certain guidelines must be followed:
▲ Only people pertaining to the search should be stored (attached to a particular search).
▲ The person who enters the data must put the individuals in their correct boxes; that is, according to function, position, geographic location, and so forth. Otherwise it will be impossible to search for people with a particular profile later.
▲ Everybody involved in the process should enter information, as it occurs, including changes of the appropriate coding.
▲ The system must have a logger who automatically sets the time and date when comments are recorded, along with the initials of the person who recorded the information.
▲ The system must be easy to use, in terms of both storing and retrieving information.
▲ The system must provide easy access to information (using the internet, open databases, etc.).
▲ The system must provide direct integration with other office tools (word processors, spreadsheets, etc.).
▲ Information must be deliverable directly from the central system(fax automation, electronic mail) to the user.
If the guidelines are followed, the ones conducting the search will have a helpful tool when tracking down the very best candidates in the marketplace. The following advantages will be achieved:
▲ A speedy search process, including quick initiation of the search
▲ Immediate status reports on the search process
▲ Tight organization of all remarks and comments made by sources, prospects, and candidates
▲ Professional follow-up of sources, prospects, and candidates
▲ Direct access to the search information, independent of other people,or time and place
- Automation of written status reports
The Structure of the Electronic SystemMost professional search firms today have software to aid them in the search process, but few are yet utilizing the most recent technological advances that have become available in the last twelve to fifteen months.
The authors of this book have developed a software program called Power Search to use in their own executive search practice that uses the latest industry innovations and creates an integrated and automated software environment for the professional recruiters (including those not comfortable with the use of computers) who do targeting volume recruiting.
In order to give you an idea of how a modern system is structured and how it can be of great help in the search process, an example with a brief explanation follows:
At most professional search firms it is common to be linked up to the main computer system, where each professional has access. This Way of linking up everyone is defined as working in a network. If somebody identifying Specific Candidates enters information at his or her computer terminal; the information update takes place in the main computer terminal. This means that the changes in the system affect everyone linked up the same way. In reality, you do not work on your computer system, but the network. In addition to such computer networks, it has become common to be able to link up to the system from outside the office, with laptop (portable PC), by having the access code and the right communication software and hardware. In reality, you can link up directly to the system and obtain current information on the search, no matter where you are and without having to depend on anybody.
The software being used with the network has two main purposes: to store and to retrieve information about everyone that is somehow connected to the particular searches on which you are working.
Modern systems have a main menu, which is the first screen you see when you turn on the computer. This starting point is used to choose the part of the system you wish to use. In the example, the described user options stand for the following (see Figure 3.3):
▲ Enter/View Contacts-Basic information pertaining to a contact such as name, address, title, past and current workplace, along with all information that pertains to the particular searches with which customize the screen.
- Maintenance of Codes--Maintenance on such information as profile codes; title, industry, and other pertinent information.
Contact Screen/ProfileThe screen that you will use the most when conducting your research is the contact screen called Enter/ View Contacts. This screen is divided into two main parts: (1) basic information, such as name, past and current company, title; and (2) search information, such as all comments and actions relating to the particular search. A candidate can have many number two parts, as each one pertains to one search. But, a person can only have one basic number one part. In the basic part of the screen you also have entered the correct variables needed to build a person's profile. By profile, we mean selecting a large number of variables that will later describe the person. This is particularly helpful later, when a person with a similar profile is needed. The groups of variables that it takes to determine a profile normally consist of:
▲ Function codes
▲ SIC or industry codes
▲ Language skills
▲ International experience
After these variables have been determined for each person, you can search your system on the various qualifications. By always starting your assignment with a search on your system based on your ideal profile, you can get a speedy start.
Report ScreenA very helpful tool in monitoring the searches is the report function, because you can determine the status of all activities just by looking at the report. The reports are also a great tool for management to use to monitor a person is connected. This information should include comments and actions relating to the particular search.
▲ Reports--Premade report option for different reasons and objects.
▲ Maintenance of Menus--System maintenance that enables you to identifying Specific Candidates the searches (see Figure 3.4). The various reports available in PowerSearch
▲ Company Contact List: A listing of all the target companies and target people attached to the particular searches. The list can be sorted in alphabetical order according to companies or people. The list gives you the person's full name, address, phone number, company, title, contact code, and last date when spoken to.
▲ Listing of Searches: A complete listing of all searches open and closed, with name of client, search number, title of position, and starting/ closing date for the search.
▲ Search Overview/Client Report: A control report that on one page presents an overview of all the developed prospects attached to each search. The report shows only name, title, and company for the developed people who are on the way to becoming the candidates or have been inter- viewed. If declined after the interview, they are automatically erased from the report. Next to each person there is a date when the person was developed. The report lists the status of all the searches going on in the office or that pertain to a particular consultant. The purpose is to show the bottom line of what you have accomplished at any given point by listing names of qualified people on each search.
▲ Call Result Performance Report: This report allows you to monitor specifically what work has been done by each researcher or consultant during a set time period. You can choose any time period and track down how many calls each person in the office makes during this time and, of course, the results achieved. The report can be run by people or search number. For example, if you want to monitor a researcher's work for the last five days, you can get the bottom-line facts, such as how many calls the person has made on each search. You can also get information such as how many new prospects and candidates have been found and developed in the same time period.
- Log: This report gives you a listing of all the people who either have been or will be contacted for a particular search. Contact codes and all comments recorded are presented.
Candidate Backgrounds (Resumes) During the Search
The resumes of interested candidates should be filed alphabetically by name in a folder or binder for the particular search (or if you have the capability, scanned into the computer system and filed there), while the search is being conducted. As this folder is the heart of the search, it is of great importance that there is only one candidate search folder for each search. It is also very important that all original paperwork (resumes) stays in the folder. If someone wants a candidate's paperwork, he or she must make a copy (or print one, if the resume is in the computer). The best binder to use is one that is alphabetized so you can enter people according to their last names. Also, be sure to mark (code) all the candidates who have a fit, and those who decline, so you can quickly separate the two groups. On the top of the front of the folder, you need to make a sticker with the following information:
▲ Search number and client name (company)
▲ Title of position
The search folder works as a control tool; indicating whether you have done your job. If you do not have any candidates in the search folder, you need to work harder. If you still have candidates in the folder long after Identifying Specific Candidates the search, it means that you have not closed out people and followed them up as you were supposed to.
After the SearchAfter the search has been successfully completed, the candidate's background should go to one of three different places:
1. CND file. All the candidates who become final candidates should be alphabetically organized with appraisal, reference report, and all other paperwork in a special drawer or cabinet for candidates (CNDs). These candidates are considered to be the most important ones, except for the placement. Because they have gotten so far in the process to become finalists, they are usually excellent candidates. Their personalities and skill sets might be perfect for a subsequent search. In addition, these people could become excellent sources for future searches, if you maintain a good relationship with them. After all, you basically gave them an opportunity to improve their lives by inviting them to participate in the search process.
2. General filing cabinet. Potential candidates who have an interesting background, but did not become CNDs, should be filed according to industry (alphabetically) in the general filing cabinet. When filing resumes, it is important to mark each with that person's industry and function group.
For a filing system to work well it cannot be too detailed. See Appendix for example codings that can be used. Note: A similar coding system can also be used for the electronic system. Most leading executive search firms such as Ward Howell International have created categories that have been based on the SIC codes.
3. Waste basket. Resumes of people who did not become CNDs and who do not have an interesting background should be thrown away.
The company file includes organizational charts, lists of names and published company research, including directories, annual reports, and so forth. The purpose for creating this file is that you might need this information at a later point if you need to look into these companies again. A separate set of industry and function files should be maintained so you can find information according to topic.
Interviewing and Screening
When calling potential prospects, it is of great importance to be able to screen people, to separate the gold from the silver. It is very important to be good at screening, so that you avoid wasting your own time and, of course, the time of the people that you contact. Not all identified potential candidates will have equal credentials for the job. It is therefore very important to sort the right candidates from the wrong ones as early as possible in the process. This is of great interest not only for yourself, so you do not have to waste time on unproductive interviews, but also in the interest of the candidate, who also does not want to waste time. There are basically two different screenings or telephone interviews that take place when you hook up with someone who could be the right one:
1. The first interview, called basic screening, is conducted when you want to figure out if someone is a fit. This is when you are using a template.
2. The second telephone interview, called development of a potential candidate, is conducted after you have decided that someone appears to be on target, but you need more complete background information in order to have an accurate picture. It also enables you to get right to the questions and the essence of the candidate when later interviewing this person.
Basic ScreeningIn trying to decide whether to go further with a candidate, you will sometimes find that the candidate's written presentation (resume) does not clearly state what you need to know. By comparing the requirements listed in the template you prepared at the very beginning of the search with the candidate's resume, you should, in at least half the cases, be able to tell it somebody should continue in the process. But, there will always be people you need to question by phone in order to screen them. In some cases you will even deal with people who are afraid to submit a resume (even if they are very interested). When this is the case, you just have to get everything you need over the phone so you can create your own complete resume on the prospect. During the telephone interview process you always need to ask the same questions, so it is very helpful to use the template.
If the person in question has received the position specification/ candidate profile, keep in mind that you can ask him to take the page with requirements listed and match them up with his own background,in writing. When doing this, the person has to be specific. If you choose to do the matchup at this point, you should not ask the prospect to do the matchup after the face-to-face interview.
The development of a potential candidate interview is used when you want to flesh them out, after knowing or believing that they are on target.
The information that you gather is basically what you need in preparation for the in-person interview. By following the checklist below, you should be able to gain enough information to write a career brief before even meeting with the candidate (see the example in the section "Written Presentation of Candidates").
By obtaining every piece of background information before meeting someone, you will find it easier to spot the weak spots or potential gaps in the career history or moves that appear to be happening. You can and should, basically, by having someone "developed" before the meeting, be able to cut to the meat. In developing a candidate workup, you should obtain the following information about prospects that you plan to interview:
Checklist for Candidate Development
Education and work experience, dates with gaps reconciled
Succinct organization descriptions--what business, scale for each company
Organizational chart (above, on line, and below)/reporting relationship
Size of the department, division, or group responsible for
□ Position responsibilities
□ At least three major accomplishments in each position
Motives for interest in position
Reasons for job change
□ Compensation; age
□ Thoughts on why this prospect might be a good candidate
□ Accomplishments relating to the specific responsibilities enumerated in the spec
□ Details of source(s) by whom mentioned
□ Level of interest and obstacles
When covering the foregoing information for a prospect, remember to write down the search number, log number, date, and year as well. If the next step is to interview the prospect, make a copy of the information covered and place the original in the search folder and the copy in the interview folder.
The Face-to-Face InterviewEven if you are able to find highly qualified candidates purely by working the phone, everything must still be verified by a face-to-race interview. A candidate is not guaranteed the job even if he or she has the right work experience, education, and excellent references. Just as important is the personality of the individual in question. This can best be experienced through a face-to-face interview. There are also certain questions that are best asked of somebody when you meet him or her in person. The same goes for uncovering certain weaknesses. Someone with good interview skills should be able to obtain the necessary information in short order.
In order to be a successful interviewer and thereby get the results that you want, you need to:
▲ Be well prepared (study the write-up and comments that you earlier obtained over the telephone).
▲ Know what questions to ask (know what you need to probe on), and do not be afraid to ask them.
▲ Have a very good understanding of what your company's needs are.
▲ Understand the personalities of the people with whom the candidate will be working.
Interviewing and Screening
When you spend time with someone, you usually get a certain gut feeling about him or her. This gut feeling should become an important part of the process. During the entire interview, let the candidate do most of the talking. Try to stick to the 80/20 rule; ask questions 20 percent of the time and you will be able to listen 80 percent of the time. It is very important to know in advance what you are going to say and ask, because this enables you to dedicate the greater part of your time to listening.
Always use the assessment report (see Figure 4.1).
An interview should be handled professionally from both sides. This means that a confirmation letter should be sent to the prospect's home address with information on time, date, and place. After all, you are the one who contacted the candidate. When the potential candidate shows up, certain factors can affect both parties:
The Prospect's Expectations
▲ The prospect should not have to wait. If the interview is to take place at 2:00 P.M., then that is when everything should get started.
▲ The prospect should get the feeling that the interviewer is well prepared and has spent time reading the written material (resume, write-up, etc.).
- Information about the further process, the next step (follow-ups when promised) is of great importance.
The Interviewer's Expectations▲ The candidate is expected to be on time.
▲ The interviewer expects to meet someone who is polite, eager, and well groomed. Many candidates unfortunately do not realize that if their behavior or dress is off the wail, the interview is really over before it has even started.
The interview should follow the flow of the written candidate presentation. After some social chatting, it is important to figure out what the candidate was like through high school and college and what events in the candidate's youth might have shaped his or her career. Also attempt to cover the different personal events during the candidate's career, such as a divorce or health problems, and of course areas of interest at the present time. If the client likes to go mountain climbing, it is nice to have a candidate who also enjoys mountain climbing.
During the interview, look constantly for personal impressions such as posture, self-assurance, presence, enthusiasm, ego, aggressiveness, ability Breakdown of points:
3 points = Very good 2 points = OK or borderline 1 point = Not strong enough
▲ Problem solving: Score (1-3)=
▲ Communication: Score (1-3) =
▲ Motivation: Score (1-3) =
▲ Interpersonal: Score (1-3) =
▲ Administrative: Score (1-3) =
- Final assessment of candidate (comments):
Basically five different areas need to be covered in the interview. They are:
1. Problem-solving skills
2. Communication skills
4. Interpersonal skills
5. Administrative skills
The list of questions provided in the example that follows is merely a guideline, including the five groups in the previous list. Sometimes certain questions are more important than others, all depending on the situation.
Always keep in mind the purpose of the interview: to determine whether the candidate is a good match for your client's needs. Therefore, it is very important to keep the position requirements very central when asking the questions. As you have only a certain amount of time available for the interview, all the preparation and homework must be done beforehand.
Before meeting with somebody you should have sufficient information to be able to write the career brief on the candidate. This preparation also enables you to focus on potential weak spots to a greater extent, and to get an opportunity to focus on the person's personality and potential abilities, thereby enabling you to make an accurate assessment. After the interview, you should be able to answer the three crucial questions:
l. Is the candidate able to do the job?
2. Is the candidate willing to do the job?
3. is the candidate going to be manageable?
Time FrameNever try to make a marathon session out of the meeting. Do not chitchat more than necessary. Spend a maximum of ten minutes to break the ice. Always get to the point when you speak. Keep in mind that you are in charge. To make sure that you cover everything, you need to tell the candidate up front how many minutes you have available and what you need to cover. (The meeting should last from one to two hours--maximum.)
Documentation You Should Bring to the Interview
When interviewing someone, you should always bring the following information, which, of course, has to be studied beforehand:
□ The candidate's resume with notes from the development.
□ A list of comments and initial questions based on telephone contact and the resume. You should know what specific areas you need to probe in order to feel that you have a complete picture of the candidate.
□ A list of interview questions (the list in this chapter can be used as a guideline).
When you have finished, pull back and consider with the candidate the implications of what he or she has just told you. Spot any gaps in necessary experience and discuss these. It may be that you mutually come to the conclusion that the job is not a fit. If a candidate is on the borderline, you can honestly say, "You realize that in my terms you would be on the 'light' end of the candidate scale, although this does not necessarily disqualify you completely." If this is the case, he or she will no longer be the number one candidate, but more of a reserve, unless the requirements change in favor of the prospect in question.
Matchup is a technique used by leading headhunters to build a case for a candidate. It basically means that you ask the person you just inter- viewed to prepare (at home after the interview) and submit in three-quarters to one page the reasons why he or she should get the job. This information can also be of great help when writing the candidate report.
You will also get a feel for the candidate's motivation for the position.
Immediately after the interview, while everything is still fresh, you should prepare the assessment report. This report is basically a one-page summary of the interview, where you list the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate on the five previously mentioned areas. This report is also where you list, in a few sentences, why you think this candidate fits or does not fit the particular position.
Sample Interview Questions
If candidate has not been developed, this has to be done first; see previous section "Candidate Development."
General Start-up Questions
1. Draw the organizational chart of your present company, including your specific department. What is your role?
2. What indicators measure your performance within your current position?
Approaches to Problem Resolution
3. Were you ever in a situation where you had too many things to do in the time available? How did you handle it?
4. What kinds of decisions are most difficult for you?
5. Do you discuss important decisions with anyone?
6. Imagine a situation where you find yourself without the specific technical knowledge to perform a task essential to a project. What would you do?
7. Imagine you are asked to set up a task force to investigate the advantages of using temporary office workers in your company.
If there were no precedent for establishing such a task force, howwould you do it?
8. If you had to interview someone for a position on your staff, and you lacked the technical depth to understand their competence, how would you handle the interview?
9. What major problems have you identified in your current position that were previously overlooked, and what have you done about it?
10. What kind of people do you feel represent a challenge to work with and how do you best deal with them?
11. What was your biggest challenge this last year at work, and how did you reach a solution?
12. What was your worst mistake during the last year, and what did you do about it?
Executive Search Research Methodology
13. What has been the toughest decision you have made in your career?
14. In terms of problem resolution would you describe yourself to be more analytical or intuitive? Give specific examples.
15. How do you react if someone criticizes the work you have done?
Give specific examples.
16. What notable successes have you had in problem solving for your company?
17. How would your boss describe you?
18. How would your closest friends and family describe you?
19. How would you describe yourself in terms of weaknesses and strengths?
20. In considering important career questions, what impact does your closest family play in the decision-making?
21. What do you do for relaxation, or what means a lot to you, besides work?
22. If you could start again, what would you do differently?
23. Do you consider yourself to be more or less creative than your boss and coworkers? Give examples,
24. How do you tell your boss or board of directors that the action is wrong, or at least that they are going in a direction with which you are in total disagreement?
25. What business or social situations make you feel awkward?
26. How have you dealt with an angry or frustrated customer? Tell me about it.
27. How do you turn things around when the initial impression of you is bad?
28. Was there ever a time when your timing was bad? Tell me about it.
29. What is the most memorable mistake you have made in dealing with people?
30. Why are you interested in this particular opportunity, and why should we hire you?
31. How do you motivate people?
32. What are three examples of major projects you initiated at work. or in your spare time, that you did not have to do, within the last two years?
Interviewing and Screening
33. Tell me about your workday. When do you start and when do you finish?
34. if you rank yourself in terms of college, how did you do in regard to grades and ranking?
35. What mission or thinking do you follow when you work?
36. Do you ever find it necessary to go beyond the call of duty to get the job done?
37. What have you done to become more effective in your career?
38. When the pressure is on, where does your extra energy come from?
39. Do you ever take work home?
40. What kind of initiative do you take in a challenging situation?
Give me an example.
41. What means more to you in the job--money or personal growth?
42. Recount when you made a major change. Why did you do it and how did it work?
43. Was there a time when you failed, but came right back again?
Give me an example.
44. With regard to your job, where do you see yourself five years from now?
45. Do you socialize with your coworkers outside of work, and why?
46. Have you laid off many people during your career? When doing so, how have you done it?
47. In what way do you give subordinates feedback?
48. When recruiting new people, do you look for specific characteristics? If so, what are those characteristics?
49. How do you work with new and weak members of your group?
50. Who is the best manager that you know of and why?
51. How do you deal with employees who are strong performers?
52. Getting the job done involves gathering information and input from others. How do you do this?
53. What is the toughest communication problem you have faced?
54. Have you ever verbally convinced someone of an approach or an idea? Tell me about it.
55. How do you perform as a speaker or motivator in front of large and small groups? Give specific examples.
56. When has your verbal communication been important enough to follow up in writing?
Executive Search Research Methodology
57. Are there situations better suited to written communication?
58. What do you admire and dislike the most, and why?
59. How would you characterize your management style?
60. What is the limit of your management responsibilities? Explain the types of decisions that are beyond your authority.
61. How would you prioritize your work schedule during a busy week?
62. To what degree do you give people freedom at work? How do you ensure that it does not get out of hand?
63. Are there certain tasks that a manager can never delegate? If so, what are those tasks?
64. Do you consider yourself to be replaceable? What would happen with the day-to-day business at your company if you decided as of today to not return to your job again?
65. As a manager have you changed your organization, and why?
66. How do you inspire your subordinates?
67. How are you with discipline in terms of your employees? What do you do to ensure that efficiency is kept at a high level and that people follow the orders you give them?
68. How do you discipline people (non-performers)?
69. What are the most common problems or challenges that you are facing in your job? How do you deal with it?
70. Do you consider yourself to be better at strictly planning and then delegating or the other way around?
71. How would you rate your management skills to the former manager in your position, and why?
72. How would you react if one of your workers told you that you were wrong in one of your decisions?
Written Presentation of CandidatesCareer Brief
After a candidate proves suitable in the interview the next step is to create a written candidate report (see Figure 4.2). (If you are using an executive search firm to assist you, it should to present you with a complete written report before you even see any candidates.) The written presentation basi-
Interviewing and Screening
Figure 4.2 Example of executive report
ABC Headhunting, Inc.
CONFIDENTIAL EXECUTIVE REPORT OF CANDIDATE
FOR THE POSITION: DIRECTOR, MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEMS
WITH BELT BUCKLE INTERNATIONAL INC., CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
CONFIDENTIAL: This report has been prepared for the use of the Belt Buckle international. It contains confidential information. Its distribution should be controlled and limited to the executives concerned.
Address: 9999 North Clark Avenue, Age: 36
Chicago, Illinois 60546 Status: Married Janet)
Children: One Daughter(3 years old)
Telephone: i312) 999-5555--Home
Education: GOVERNOR STATE UNIVERSITY
University Park, Illinois
Bachelor of Arts in Management Information Systems--1995
Parsippany, New Jersey
1986(Jan.)-Present Murphy Books/Momence, Illinois
Largest book distribution center in the United States.
Connected with 2,300 publishers. The company makes its
revenues directly from the publishers by getting a set fee
per book distributed.
Revenues were $1 billion in 1996, with a total of 17,360
1994(Jan.)-Present Information Systems Director
The distribution operations department was responsible for
the entire distribution process from a technical standpoint.
The department consisted of a total of forty employees, of
whom ten reported to the information systems director. The
MIS director reported directly to the CFO. Areas of responsibility and major accomplishments consisted of:
▲ Responsible for all aspects of information systems technology in the company's four regional warehouses including hardware, software, and telecommunications
under a budget of $4 million.
▲ Coordinated the installation of an AS/400 warehousing
system in each of the four warehouse locations. This included various automation tools such as RF terminals,
scanners, and barcode printers as well as evaluation, purchase, and installation of the application software.
1990(Jan.)-1992 (Jan.) Information Systems Manager
The MIS manager reported directly to the information systems director. A total of three people reported to the MIS
manager. Areas of responsibility and major accomplishments consisted of:
▲ Directed all information systems-related issues including
telecommunications, purchasing, and programming in a
facility of 500 + employees.
▲ Ensured that the service center's objectives were included
in all information systems strategic: planning.
▲ Promoted full and effective use of all information system
tools in the service center through training, education,
and hands-on experience.
Interviewing and Screening
Figure 4.2 (Continued)
┃1986(Jan.)-1990(Jan.) ┃Programmer ┃
┃ ┃Distribution Operations ┃
┃ ┃The programmer reported directly to the information sys- ┃
┃ ┃tems manager and had no people reporting to him. Areas ┃
┃ ┃of responsibility and major accomplishments consisted of: ┃
┃ ┃▲ Designed, developed, and implemented electronic order ┃
┃ ┃ entry system that currently processes 50 percent of the ┃
┃ ┃ company's orders. ┃
┃ ┃▲ Directed the project that designed and developed the B & ┃
┃ ┃ T Link family of products. ┃
┃ ┃▲ Acted as focal point for intercompany Electronic Data ┃
┃ ┃ Interchange (EDI) development ┃
┃ ┃▲ Worked closely with marketing in screening new ideas ┃
┃ ┃ and estimating the resources necessary to implement ┃
┃ ┃ them. ┃
┃1984(lan.)-1986(Jan.) ┃United Oil/Bakersfield, California ┃
┃ ┃The company was a local oil drilling company founded in ┃
┃ ┃1965 in Bakersfield. United Oil went bankrupt in October ┃
┃ ┃1992. During the time Mr. Harrison worked at the company ┃
┃ ┃it had yearly gross revenues of $210 million and approxi- ┃
┃ ┃mately 1,450 employees. ┃
┃1984(Jan.)-1986(Jan.) ┃Programmer Analyst ┃
┃ ┃Production Support ┃
┃ ┃The production support department consisted of three employees. Mr. Harrison reported directly to the information ┃
┃ ┃systems manager and had no staff himself. The department's ┃
┃ ┃main responsibility was to input and process all data relating to the actual drillings, to ensure control of costs and maximum efficiency. Areas of responsibility and major accomplishments consisted of: ┃
┃ ┃▲ Provided support and program corrections to regional ┃
┃ ┃ data centers as required. ┃
┃ ┃▲ Solved numerous production problems that directly affected the day-to-day operations. ┃
┃ ┃▲ Designated as key contact for off-hours production support. ┃
Base salary is currently $158,500, with a 20 percent bonus
potential, which was reached last year (1996).
John is thirty-six years old, wears glasses, has a neatly trimmed beard, and is of medium height and weight. He has an open, engaging style and is able to carry a conversation easily. John is originally from New Jersey, where he grew up in Lexingham, which is a small middle-class suburb of Newark. He was an only child.
John lived in Lexingham all the way through high school. His mother died when he was two years old and his father raised him. His father was a restaurant manager at a local diner. During high school John played varsity football and was on the school's tennis team. In addition to having a great interest in sports, he was very interested in computer science and mathematics. He left high school with a $10,000 scholarship to study computer science at Chubb Institute in Parsippany. He completed his associate degree at the top of his class with a straight GPA of 4.0.
WORK HISTORYAt the time he completed his degree in June 1984 he received a total of five job offers. John wanted to experience the Southwest and therefore decided to go with the offer he had received from United Oil in Bakersfield, California. This company also offered him the best salary and a great trainee program. John worked for United Oil for two years and felt that the most exciting part of this job was the opportunity to work directly with the regional data centers. He also felt that it was a unique experience to be able to work with twelve different nationalities in the staff, which greatly affected his perception of muiticultural communication. Due to strong differences with his boss, they came to a mutual agreement that he should leave as soon as he got another job offer.
He landed a job as a programmer for Murphy Books in Momence, Illinois, This decision was based on a strong interest to move to the Midwest, because of his wife Janet, who grew up in Momence. John had read numerous articles on the state-of-the-art distribution software that the company had developed and implemented. He wanted to become a part of this leading organization. As of today John has been at Murphy Books twelve years. He started out as a programmer, a position he held for two years, before being promoted to information systems manager (ISM). During his time as an ISM he was, for the first time, getting personnel responsibilities, and he found out that he really enjoyed motivating and leading other people. He had a zero turnover rate in his staff, and an exceptionally good atmosphere in his department.
He feels that his greatest accomplishment was taking the initiative to implement full and effective use of all information systems tools at the service center. For this achievement he was presented with the employee of the year award.
Interviewing and ScreeningAfter two years as an ISM he was again promoted to more responsibility as the Director of Information Systems and Distribution Operations. This job has been the most challenging in his career. For the first eleven months he averaged eighty hours a week, due to cleanup of the mess left to him by his predecessor. His favorite and best assignment at this position has been to implement AS/400 warehousing systems at four regional locations. During this process John also attended evening school for two years, which resulted in him getting a Bachelor Degree in Management information Systems in 1995. His current situation as Director of Information Systems and Distribution Operator is the reason for wanting to pursue the opportunity at Belt Buckle International John strongly feels that he cannot move further up the ladder in the organization. As well, he feels it is time to change scenery.
ASSESSMENT OF STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
John believes some of his strengths are
▲ Proven leadership abilities
▲ Strong technical skills and a solid programming background
▲ Thinking ahead
▲ Getting along easily with others
▲ Good at strategy development Based on my own assessment, John offers the following:
▲ Good interpersonal skills
▲ Good financial judgment in regards to expenditures
▲ John appears to be a solid person with good values
▲ Good sense of humor and likeable personality Potential Weaknesses
▲ At times John talks too fast and uses too many technical words.
▲ He has never had the amount of responsibility that the position at Belt Buckle
▲ It appears that he at times can lose his temper.
▲ At times he can be a little egocentric.
PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICSjohn seems to be a person with good interpersonal skills and solid values. He said that some of his personal values include honesty, integrity, and treating others fairly and well John said he is the kind of person who thrives in an environment where there is a great deal of change. He also said that he enjoys working closely with other people and welcomes opportunities for leadership. If he were to leave Murphy Books he would like to work in an environment where people want to change and grow. John would like an intellectually challenging environment where people also enjoy their work. Further he would like to work for an organization that relaxes its investments in information systems technology. John feels that his biggest limitation for the job is having to move again.
His wife works part-time at the local grocery store. Their daughter, at three, is planning to start kindergarten next year.
VERIFICATION OF CREDENTIALSThe following information has been verified by direct contact with the appropriate sources:
▲ Academic credentials
▲ Preliminary reference checks
Los Angeles, June 3, 1998
Interviewing and Screening
cally reflects the interviewer's observation about the candidate and his or her fit for the position, This presentation consists of two parts. The first part is a detailed career brief, which is basically a very detailed resume, fully written out. This document is filled with facts and includes extensive details about the work history. It is always helpful to start out by writing the career brief to ensure that you get the basic information documented first. Make sure that sufficient information is included. Always be very specific. Every sentence should be short and precise. The career brief should include the following information on the candidate (in chronological order):
▲ Age, marital status
▲ Full name and address with phone numbers at home and work
▲ Educational background (degree, institution, location, month and year finished)
▲ Professional experience (for each position):
▲ Name of company
▲ Sales dollars or number of employees
▲ Department or division size (sales or number of employees)
▲ Reporting relationship
▲ Company products or services provided
▲ Most important accomplishments (sectioned in bullet points—a minimum of three for each position)
▲ Dates for starting and ending each position
▲ Compensation (complete information on what the salary package includes)
The second part of the candidate presentation is the career appraisal, which in a storylike way takes you through a person's life from cradle to grave.
This is a more personal way of giving the client insight into the candidate, including personal observations of the candidate's personality. The appraisal normally covers the following four areas.
The appraisal should start out with a paragraph that introduces the candidate, to help the reader to understand where he is coming from. It basically means to follow in the footsteps of the candidate from childhood to the finish of his higher education. Try to answer:
▲ Where did he grow up?
▲ What was the family situation?
▲ What did the parents do?
▲ Where did he go to college, and why was this decision made?
▲ What did he study and why?
▲ How did he do in college?
- What interests did he have outside of school?
Section TwoThe middle paragraphs review highlights and accomplishments in the candidate's career that are not included in the resume. These paragraphs normally include tasks and achievements relevant to what the client wants (matchup in requirements) in the position for which he is searching, why the candidate made employment changes--essentially the highlights of the candidate's career. It is important to finish by explaining what the candidate is presently doing, and if not presently employed, why. You should also include comments on why the candidate might want to leave his or her present company (if employed) and why he or she is interested in this particular position. When writing this paragraph start with the first job and finish with the present one.
Section ThreeThe next paragraph should summarize your personal impressions of the candidate in regard to strengths and weaknesses (relate this to the particular position for which the candidate is being considered). This is your assessment based on your interaction with the candidate. Start out by listing the perceived strengths and finish with the perceived weaknesses.
Section FourThe last paragraph is about personal attributes and characteristics, such as personality, mobility for the position, and any obstacles: the candidate's wishes or expectations (what will make him or her accept the position), the candidate's own perception of his or her own weaknesses; information on the candidate's family situation should also be included with information on what each member is doing.
Reference CheeksOnce you have identified potential candidates who are both motivated and appear to match the requirements for a specific assignment, you have done only a part of the job. You not only want to find who appears to be the right person for the job, but also to make sure that he or she is. If you bought a $300,000 house, you would surely have crawled underneath the house or had someone to do it to have the piles checked out. If not, the house could cost you even more. You cannot afford to overlook any information. Extensive research and reference checks can help you sort out the rising stars from the falling ones.
The best guide to what an executive will do in the future is to look at what he or she has done in the past. This means tracing his or her progress--childhood, school, college, and business career--in detail, month by month. You will be looking for evidence of recurring habits (traits) that make the executive a good employment risk. You have to check out the specific achievements with each employer, reasons for joining and leaving, how he or she got along with colleagues and superiors, and salary history. All this information can easily be obtained by following the steps in the executive search research model explained in this chapter. By learning the steps and applying them in a professional manner, you can minimize the risk of a wrong placement.
Academic claims should always be verified. This can be done by calling or writing to the candidate's college to check whether he or she graduated, and in what year. All you need is the candidate's full name and social security number. You should also check the candidate's credit report and any criminal record. As all of this checking is very personal, it is very important to obtain the candidate's authorization to conduct the check.
Many researchers also choose to conduct an extensive news search by Lexis & Nexis and Info-Track (if in the United States) to check to see whether the person in question has been mentioned in the media, and if so, why. In summary a potential candidate is checked in secrecy by:
▲ Preliminary reference check
▲ Regular reference check
▲ Academic claims verified
▲ Criminal record
▲ News search
Most of the candidates who are in the process already have a job and feel happy about their situation. Nobody knows that they are considering other opportunities except you. If someone at his or her current job knew anything, the candidate would be at risk of losing that job or standing. To avoid this (and the resulting enemies and bad reputation that will kill you in the marketplace), you have to follow certain procedures. Remember that all it takes to cause a problem is one wrong telephone call or an unfortunate phrasing during the course of a reference check.
Because the reference check is a sensitive matter, you should be very careful with reference checking people before they have become the final candidates. Protecting the confidentiality of discussions with an employed candidate must be an absolute priority for both you and the potential new employer. But, as your interest is to weed out the wrong candidates, you want to get some kind of feedback from the marketplace about your candidate. You do so by the preliminary reference check, which is based on light conversations with a couple of people who know of your candidate.
The extensive regular reference check is done later when the candidate is at least one of the finalists.
Unemployed candidates or those whose decision to leave their current position is known can be asked for reference names immediately. Candidates who have been approached about a new position, however, will often request that reference checking be delayed until later, when both parties have expressed an interest in proceeding. But the other checks, such as verification of academic records, credit, criminal record, and news search, should always be completed at the point where you feel that someone appears to become a final candidate. if you are using an executive search firm, you should expect the firm to have done this before you are being asked to meet someone.
Resume InflationResume inflation is a term that is frequently used in the context of reference checking. It means:
"Intentionally misrepresenting, distorting, or otherwise providing less than truthful information in one's resume or in a job interview for purposes of personal career advancement."
In 1985 Ward Howell, one of the oldest and largest executive search firms in the world, conducted an extensive study on the subject of resume inflation (see Figure 5.1). The survey was based on interviews conducted with more than 500 executives in general management positions in large and medium-sized companies. In addition, more than 250 human resources (HR) and personnel specialists in large and medium-sized companies who had experienced resume inflation also participated. Recent updates of the study show that the numbers are just as valid today.
Preliminary Reference Check
The preliminary reference check preferably should be approved by the candidate, although this does not always happen. Speaking to one or two references for a few minutes just to get a thumbnail sketch should suffice for this check. You must be extremely cautious with your phrasing. You would very much like to know if you have a diamond or nickel candidate, but you also would hate to lose this person because you make a mistake.
Months of work can be wasted with one wrong phone call. The people you speak to during the preliminary reference check should not be too close, or under any circumstance a superior at the current company. If possible you should avoid people in the prospect's company at this point.
It is best to speak to someone to whom your candidate previously reported.
Here is an example of how to properly phrase such an inquiry:
" My name is John Smith and I am calling from company X [the name of the company that you are recruiting to]. I am contacting you because I am trying to find out more about one particular individual you know. Do you happen to have a few minutes available right now?"
"This call concerns Mr. Dick Jones. Before we start, I want to inform you that Mr. Jones has not contacted us nor is he in a recruitment process of any kind. As a matter of fact we have never even spoken to Mr. Jones.
The. reason for this call is that the individual's name, on a couple of occasions, has surfaced and we therefore want to try to get a thumbnail sketch on him, as we one day might have an assignment that could fit with his background. It is also of great importance that you do not tell anybody
Figure 5,1 Statistics.
Table 1 Executive Experience with Resume Inflation During the Past Year
┃ ┃Percentage of Executives ┃
┃Who have discovered instances of resume inflation ┃26 ┃
┃Who have not experienced the problem ┃74 ┃
Table 2 Executives Encountering Misrepresentation
┃lob Area ┃Percentage ┃
┃General Management ┃33 ┃
┃Personnel ┃31 ┃
┃Finance, Accounting, Control ┃29 ┃
┃Marketing ┃27 ┃
┃Manufacturing and Production ┃17 ┃
┃Engineering and R&D ┃13 ┃
┃All others combined ┃24 ┃
Table 3 Falsified Components of Employee's Credentials
┃ ┃Percentage of Respondents ┃
┃Resume Claim ┃ With Falsification ┃
┃Academic credentials ┃62 ┃
┃Compensation history ┃43 ┃
┃Responsibilities in previous positions ┃42 ┃
┃Accomplishments in previous positions ┃34 ┃
┃Criminal record ┃25 ┃
┃Interpersonal relationships ┃15 ┃
┃Proiessional licenses ┃10 ┃
┃Dates of employment ┃ 7 ┃
┃Management style ┃ 7 ┃
┃Credit history ┃ 6 ┃
┃Reasons for leaving previous position ┃ 5 ┃
┃Problem-solving abilities ┃ 4 ┃
┃Omitting job from employment history ┃ 3 ┃
┃Military record ┃ 2 ┃
┃Family relationships ┃ 2 ┃
These three tables should help you understand the great importance of running extensive checks on candidates before you take them on board. You cannot afford not to run the checks.
Source: Ward Howell International, 1985.
Reference Checks about this conversation, as the individual has not been contacted and also is not being considered for a position."
After the introduction you can ask questions like:
▲ How long have you known Mr. Jones, and in what capacity and how often did you interact with him?
▲ What is your impression of him as a person and as a worker? How did he perform?
▲ What do you consider his strong points to be?
▲ Would you rehire him or recommend him for other similar positions?
▲ Does Mr. Jones have any particular limitations or weaknesses?
Regular Reference Check
The regular reference check is where you really pick a candidate apart.
This check may take sixty minutes or longer. To be successful, it requires a lot of effort from not only the referee, but also you. You must be prepared and know what to ask. The regular reference check should be extensive and thorough, because this is the last chance you get to make discoveries that support or weaken the candidacy of the person in question. When asking somebody to spend up to one hour to give information about a candidate, keep in mind that this person is doing you a big favor. Such people usually have a busy schedule. Therefore, you should adjust according to their needs and conduct the reference check at a time convenient for them. You should ask them what time is the most convenient. If they tell you that they do not have the time when you call, just make a phone appointment for later. If you cannot reach your reference and have to leave a message, state your name and firm and that you are calling to conduct a reference check. Never leave the name of the candidate, as this is a violation of the candidate's privacy.
Sometimes, references are reluctant to give out negative information.
Some companies have an official policy not to give out information beyond dates the person worked there, for legal reasons, and you might not be able to obtain more information, especially from HR personnel. By using a professional telephone manner combined with a familiarity with the candidate and an understanding of the new position under consideration, you usually can encourage other references to be candid. References should be told the specifications of the new position and asked to comment upon the suitability of the candidate for such an opportunity. Past compensation, dates of employment, reasons for leaving, and other confirming data should be obtained as a part of the process.
When seeking a reference, it is very important that you speak to people who can give you the information you need. These references should be from the last three companies. The most recent references are the most important. You should talk to the closest supervisor to whom your candidate reported, the closest coworker, and someone who reported directly to your candidate. You should aim for this selection as a minimum. The candidate might suggest additional references who know his or her work.
If you speak to someone in the last group make sure that he or she is not related to the candidate or a best friend. During an extensive reference check you might end up speaking to as many as twelve people! It is better to talk to too many people than too few. It is also important to remember that each search is different, and so is each candidate, so the questions you ask the reference must take into account the requirements of the position and any particular concerns that might exist. You may develop a slightly different guide for each candidate on the same search.
When contacting the references, you should follow a written guide-line. This guideline should be kept in front of you to ensure that all concerns are covered and that you do not get sidetracked. With practice, you can become very skilled at conducting a reference check. But even if you have not done a check before or for some time, with a good guideline or list of questions handy, you do not have to worry, even if a reference call comes right in the middle of something else. Another key rule is, always ask the most important questions first in case the conversation becomes very short.
The reference check is supposed to help you uncover or strengthen any uncertainties about the candidate. Always ask for examples, and probe if you hear something out of the ordinary. For example, if you hear about a weakness, keep probing and get other references to comment, and be sure to get examples. Of course, everything you hear should be documented, because you will need to make a written report after speaking to all the references.
You should follow certain guidelines in order to get the information that you need and at the same time leave the references with a professional impression. At the beginning of any conversation with a reference you should identify yourself and the candidate in question, and inform the reference that Your candidate has asked (or at least given permission) for you to contact the reference. The first information that you want to get from the reference includes:
▲ Full name (including middle names)
▲ Address at work and home (including phone numbers both places)
▲ Current title
▲ Relationship to the candidate
▲ How long has he or she known the candidate (dates)?
▲ What kind of relationship (work or private)?
▲ How did they work together (sketch up the setting with titles) and how long?
▲ How frequent was interaction?
After confirming the nature of the reference's relationship to the candidate, you can start asking the questions that will enable you to gain more insight into your candidate.
Following is a list of some suggested areas that you should cover when conducting a reference check. Also remember to ask open-ended questions. Never lead the reference by asking close-ended questions, that is, questions that can be answered with yes or no.
All the information that you get from the reference check must be written down. Out of all the information you obtain, you need to create reference reports. If you are using an executive search firm, it will present you with these reports before you make a final agreement with a candidate. The reports are a result of the information gathered from all the references (see Figures 5.2 and 5.3). Each statement should contain at least five reference briefs. Each brief should contain the following information:
▲ The relationship to the candidate
▲ Comments on specific skills, expertise, and achievements
▲ Personal characteristics, attributes, and management style
▲ Relationship with superiors, subordinates, and staff
▲ Comments on why the candidate would be a good fit for the position
▲ .Areas that need improvement (weaknesses)
▲ Comments on any domestic, personal, or financial difficulties that might interfere with the candidate's performance
▲ Thoughts on why the candidate is considering the position
▲ Other comments on the candidate
┃Candidate's Name: ┃Search number: ┃
┃Reference's Name: ┃Date and year: ┃
┃Title: ┃Telephone number: ┃
┃Organization: ┃Address: ┃
1. How long have you known the candidate (CND) and in what capacity?
2. Comment on the performance of the CND. What were the CND's major accomplishments?
3. What are the CND's major strengths? Weaknesses? (If no response, probe areas
that could use development.)
4. Comment on CND's relationships with superiors, subordinates, and peers
5. Describe the CND's management style
6. Why might the CND be considering a move at this time?
7. Have there ever been any domestic, personal, or financial difficulties that would
have interfered with the CND's work?
8. What is your assessment of the CND's suitability for the position?
9. Is there anything else we should know about the CND? Do you have any specific
advice to give to the CND's future employer?
Reminder: Thank the reference. Assure confidentiality. tf appropriate. tell the refer-
ence that vou will let him or her know the outcome of the search.
SAVE THIS FORM AND INCORPORATE INTO DOCUMENTS
Figure 5.3 Confidential reference report.
ABC Headhunting, Inc.
CONFIDENTIAL REFERENCE REPORT OF CANDIDATE
FOR THE POSITION: DIRECTOR, MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEMS WITH
BELT BUCKLE INTERNATIONAL, INC., CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
CONFIDENTIAL: This report has been prepared for the use of the Belt Buckle Inter-
national. It contains confidential information. Its distribution should be controlled
and limited to the executives concerned.
Candidate: J. Harrison/Ref.: R. Hummel
1. Mr. Rafer Hummel
Computer Systems Inc.
999 Colorado Avenue
Santa Monica. CA 90401
310-999-1111 (p) 310-999-6666 (w)
Mr.Hummel is currently a senior consultant at one of the leading computer consulting firms in the country. He has had this position since leaving Murphy Books, in Momence. Illinois, in January 1990. At Murphy Books Mr. Hummel was the manager of MIS. and thereby Mr. Harrison's direct boss during the time period Jan. 1986 to Jan 1990. Mr. Hummel interacted with Harrison on a daily basis for a total of four years. They had a purely working relationship and did not know each other before they started to work together, nor did they keep in touch later.
When asked about Harrison's skills, expertise, and achievements, the reference made the following comments:
Mr. Harrison is a strong technical person. He is a hands-on person who is not afraid to get his hands dirty in order to get the job done. In addition, he is dependable and can always be counted on to complete his work. Mr. Harrison's greatest achievement was to not only realize that the company had a poor order entry system, but also to create a new electronic system with his own initiative. Without guidance and letting the new added workload affect his daily assignments, he spent his weekends for a total period of three months to come up with the new electronic order entry % stem, which is still in use today.
2. When asked about Harrison's personal characteristics, attributes, and management style, the references made the following comments:
He is a true team player with an always positive attitude. He did not have a staff at the time, but it was noticed by the management that Harrison had strong leadership and people skills, and it was just a matter of time before he climbed the corporate ladder in the firm. He was always creative and had the ability to connect with people from all different walks of life. Harrison is not only a hardworking person, but also a compassionate human being. One event in particular took place that showed what kind of person he was and that gave him great respect by his coworkers; another person in the same department who had the same job as Harrison at the time went through difficult times due to a serious illness his wife had. Every week there would be a day or two when the coworker did not show up at work because he did not succeed to pull himself together. With no complaint Harrison would take over his work. Mr. Harrison's added efforts did not affect his regular performance and after a period of six months the coworker's wife recovered and everything went back to normal. If it had not been for Mr. Harrison, the coworker would probably have been fired. But, Harrison is an upright person. if a coworker did not perform and there was no reason for him not to, Harrison would not hesitate to tell his coworker to straighten up and get to work. The same went for situations where the management treated subordinates poorly. Harrison is also a fun person, outgoing, has a good sense of humor, and is very professional.
3. When asked about Harrisons's relationships with superiors, subordinates, and staff, the reference made the following comments:
He was extremely easy to work with and he had an excellent relationship with both peers and superiors. He always worked with people rather than against them. This was clearly demonstrated when a new coworker came into his department and was, for no reason, being hostile to Harrison. Instead of going behind his back and reporting the situation directly to his superior, he worked with the new person. The end result was that the new worker eventually came around and with time the hostility went away.
4. When asked about Harrison's suitability for the position at Belt Buckle International, the reference made the following comments:
His excellent track record speaks for itself and proves that he should have no problems whatsoever to do a great job. Due to his capability to pick up new things easily and adapt quickly to new environments, it should not take him long before he will be up and running in his new position. It also appears that the responsibilities at Belt
Buckle International are of similar nature to his current position, the only difference being a slightly larger staff at the new position. Due to a good network in the field, Harrison is, to my knowledge, the best person in the marketplace for the job. If the opportunity were there, I would rehire Mr. Harrison in a second. As a matter of fact. I tried to recruit him a year ago for a consultant position at Computer Systems Inc.
5. When asked to comment on areas of improvement, the reference made thefollowing statements:
He needs to have a good supportive staff; otherwise he might push himself too hard because of his high expectations and commitment. Harrison will at times take on too much work, not just for himself but the whole department. He can also at times be a little too direct with people around him and be impatient with non-performers who do not do their best.
6. When asked to comment on any domestic, personal, or financial difficulties that may interfere with Harrison's performance, references responded with:
At one time he went through a hard time with a relationship to his alcoholic father, but it did not interfere with his performance at work. He is a professional and is excellent at separating personal life and work. if something took place in his personal life it would be hard to tell as he always exceeded his expectations at work.
7. When asked about why Harrison would be considering the position at Belt
Buckle International, the reference made the following comments:
The position at Belt Buckle International appears to be a step up careerwise and Mr. Harrison is very ambitious. There is also reason to believe that he is somewhat frustrated at his current company, as the MIS department is not getting the necessary financial funding and support. He is also very career-oriented and it appears that there is no room for further advancement at Murphy Books.
8. When asked if there was anything else we should know about Harrison, references made the following comments:
He is a very driven person. When he sets his goats he works until he reaches them.
He is a very special person and there are only good things to say about him. He always made a strong positive impression on people and is a very good employee. The company that gets him is very fortunate.
9. When asked what advice the reference would give Harrison's future employer, the following comments were made:
It is important that he has a good staff around him. Otherwise he will try to do everything by himself.
At the beginning of each reference report, state who the reference is, and his or her relationship to the candidate. Take the comments you get from each reference and systemize them underneath the area where they belong. Write everything down just as the reference said it. If several references say the same thing, you should still write it down. Also, be sure to write down specifics. Keep in mind that the purpose behind the reference report is to enable both you and the client to make a sound judgment regarding the candidate. If something negative comes out of the reference check, you have to probe to get the specifics.
The reason for making separate reference reports is to make sure that you make the right decision by ensuring that you get answers in each area that you need to cover. Certain executive search forms merge all the remarks into one document so you do not know who said what. But for many it makes a big difference if a subordinate or someone's superior made a specific comment. When making the report it is important not to be tempted to cover up someone's weaknesses in order to dose the search.
If you do, it will most likely blow up in your face later.
Closing the SearchWhen you have completed the identification, screening, interviews, reference checks, and presentation of the best-qualified candidates in the process, the search usually has come to an end. Unfortunately only one candidate gets the job after hundreds of phone calls, which is why executive search is also called the business of rejection. It is important not to consider the search complete until the final candidate agrees to an offer. Be aware that if the candidates are not treated professionally, because of delays, poor treatment, or unskillful negotiations, it is very possible that they might realize that they are happier at their current company. It is important to treat everyone as you want to be treated yourself.
It is also important to have a good backup plan in case something goes wrong. This means that you have to keep the other finalists "warm" in case your final candidate drops out. You can tell the other finalists that you need a few more days to make a decision.
When the best candidate has been chosen, it is important to move quickly and notify the candidate immediately. Make sure the client provides the candidate with a written offer that states the compensation agreed upon and starting date. It is important that there is no delay in the presentation of terms and conditions.
Closing Out Candidates and SourcesWhen closing a search it is important to confront and deal with all those you have been in touch with during the course of the search, in addition to the final candidates. Many of these people gave you helpful information; others were interested and sent their resumes to you, while others functioned as references for candidates. All of these people have one thing in common; they interrupted their busy schedule to give you the time of day.
To close a search does not only mean to have placed somebody successfully, but also to have closed out everyone who somehow participated. To become good at this last step, all you have to do is put yourself in the shoes of the participants. What kind of courtesy would you expect if you had sent off your resume filled with excitement? You would expect a prompt follow-up one way or another. A letter stating that you did not measure up would do. If someone became a candidate but was rejected, he or she should receive both a letter and a phone call. If you gave information about candidates, you would expect a thank-you letter. When a search is over, a letter should therefore be sent to the participants, with content matching the nature of the participant. All of these letters need to be sent to the home address of the people you interacted with. This is one of the reasons why it is crucial to keep good notes throughout the search, so you can easily track down all the people who should receive a letter from you.
When you have closed the search, there should not be any loose ends or anybody wondering about anything relating to the search. The folder used to organize prospects should also be emptied (refer to the section "Candidate Backgrounds" in Chapter 3).
Closeout FileEvery search should, after completion, have a closeout file. This should be entered in your filing system according to the search number assigned.
On the outside on the top front of the file, you should place a sticker that reads:
▲ Search Number Client Name (company)
▲ Title of position In the closing file, the minimum information should be
▲ Printout of the final log (a list of all people called with comments and correct codings)
▲ Position specification
▲ Source letter
▲ Career brief and appraisal of placement with exact information on final compensation package accepted
The whole purpose behind making a good closeout file and keeping the paperwork well organized is to prevent you from having to reinvest the wheel every time you need to find Mr. or Ms. Right. You also want to be able to cover your back by having everything documented. By being able to build layer on layer of information, you can put the wealth of information to work for you as your network and knowledge keeps growing.
Here are examples of three letters that should be sent out at the time of the closeout:
1. Did not measure up
2. Thank you for good help
3. Thank you for being a reference (if this has not been done already)
(see Figures 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 beginning on page 76).
Figure 6.1 Letter to people who did not measure up (must be sent to home address only).
ABC Headhunting, Inc.
June 2, 1998
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
Dear Mr./Mrs. X
Thank you for your interest in the (position)at (name of client)
I have reviewed your credentials, experience, and accomplishments and at this time have decided to pursue other candidates whose backgrounds more closely match our client's needs. Should circumstances change, we will contact you directly by telephone. I also want to advise you on how we might involve you in future assignments.
As you have an interesting background we would like to hold on to your information for future assignments. Your profile will therefore be entered into our database for review against future assignments. You will then be contacted directly when we are engaged in a search appropriate for your background and interests.
Please keep us appraised of any changes in your status and update our files within six months. We appreciate receiving your resume and look forward to future contact with you. All the best in your career endeavors.
Closing the Search
Figure 6.2 Thank-you letter to a source (to be sent after completion of the
ABC Headhunting, Inc
une 2, 1998
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
Dear Mr./Mrs. X
We want to thank you for the assistance that you provided in our search for (position for organization).
The successful candidate was (placement's name), who had previously served at former company).
I was pleased to be able to conduct this search and again want to thank you for your assistance. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can reciprocate.
ABC Headhunting, Inc., 270 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Ph.1-310-999-2112 Fax: 310-999-5199
Executive Search Research Methodology
Figure 6.3 Thank-you letter to a reference
ABC Headhunting, Inc.
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
Dear Mr./Mrs. X
Thank you for serving as a personal reference for (name of candidate). We feel that such a discussion is an essential step in our selection process because the best indicators of future performance of an executive is, in large part, his or her past performance.
Consequently, a thoughtful assessment, whether negative or positive, is crucial to the successful matching of a candidate and the position.
(This paragraph is only to be included if this letter is sent at closing of the search)
As you may know, (name of placement) has accepted the position of (title of position) at (organization). (First name of placement) was previously the (previous title) at (previous company of the placement). My client is most pleased with the personal and professional attributes that (name of placement) will bring to the organization.
We recognize that your time is valuable, and greatly appreciate you sharing it and your insights with us. If we can ever be of help to you or your company, please call us.
ABC Headhunting, Inc., 270 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Ph.: 310-999-2112 Fax: 310-999-5199
The Executive Search Profession
Working With an Executive Search Firm
When your organization needs to recruit a new person or replace someone, it is important to determine as early as possible who is going to do the recruiting. This book is meant both as a guideline for yourself if you want to do the recruiting, and as a control tool if you decide to hire an
executive search firm to assist you. If you outsource the job to a search firm, there are several things you should know.
Categories of Recruiting Firms
The knowledge and methods presented throughout this book are based solely on executive search, as this is generally accepted as the most thorough and effective way to recruit someone. But there are actually three main categories of recruiting firms: employment agencies, contingency recruiting firms, and retainer executive search firms.
Employment Agencies Employment agencies normally specialize in filling clerical and staff support positions. The fees are often fixed, and are always lower than those of the executive search firms. Agencies may charge the employee, the client, or both for its services. There are many agencies worldwide. Many are private; some are government sponsored.
Contingency Recruiting Firms These firms fees are dependent on the success of an assignment: If the recruiting firm does not find a candidate to fill your position, they do not charge you. Contingency work was common in the early days of headhunting, especially in the United States, but search firms now work primarily on a retainer basis. Some contingency firms are similar to employment agencies except that they usually do not charge the candidate for their services and they normally work with positions at a higher level than employment agencies, namely lower and mid-level management positions.
Some contingency recruiting firms focus on providing services similar to those of the retainer firms, but these face a big challenge in the potential loss of their investment in man-hours (on the average, a retainer firm spends 150 man-hours per assignment) if they should not be able to fill their clients positions. This means that contingency firms have to take a number of shortcuts in areas such as research, documentation, and interviewing, which ultimately may result in filling a position with a less-than-ideal candidate.
Therefore, you should consider a contingency recruiting firm if the positions you hire for are not so critical that you necessarily need to have the most qualified available people filling them.
Retainer Executive Search Firms
Retainer executive search firms are the most thorough and usually most expensive type of executive search firms. A firm is paid in stages during the search, and the payments do not depend on successfully finding a suitable candidate. You pay fees from the beginning of the assignment without any guarantees that your company's vacant position will be filled.
However, retainer firms are the most professional and thorough, and if there is a highly qualified candidate out there, these firms are the most likely to find that person and bring him or her to you.
Because of the high nonrefundable fees involved, there usually are a number of contractual issues to be settled before the executive search firm takes on the assignment:
▲ Can you get a discount if you are hiring people for several similar positions (multiples) at the same time? in this case, the search firm can save time by continuing to search for the additional candidates within the same framework they have already defined.
▲ What if you need to cancel the assignment (e.g., a great candidate shows up on your door unexpectedly or the position is terminated due to a reorganization) after the search firm has started working?
▲ What if the search takes too long? (This does not necessarily mean that the search firm is doing a poor job; it may mean that it is very difficult to find a qualified person.)
- What if the executive found by the search firm is hired but then leaves after a short period of time? (If this happens within a year of the hiring date, most executive search firms will find a replacement for you free of charge--you only have to pay for expenses.)
▲ What if the position requirements change substantially after the search firm has started working?
If you make sure these situations are covered in the contract between you and the search firm, a lot of potential confusion or conflict can be avoided later.
How Much Will It Cost?While employment agencies usually have simple, fixed charges, executive search firms normally calculate their charges based on the annual compensation that goes with the position they are helping to fill. For the retainer-based search firms the total basic charge is generally from 30 to 35 percent of the annual compensation. In addition, search expenses such as phone charges, travel to meet with candidates and the client, and meals with sources and candidates are added to the bill. Other executive search firms will give you a fixed quote after discussing the assignment with you.
The actual billing methods vary (see Figure 7.1). Some firms may ask for 20 percent of the basic charge up front and then spread the rest over the next few months. Other firms charge 33 percent at the beginning of the assignment, 33 percent halfway through the search, and the rest on completion. in Europe, it is normal practice that the last amount is paid only after the candidate has signed the employment contract.
If, after discussing the assignment with you, the executive search firm sees that the search will require more resources than normal to complete (such as a search covering several different countries), it might increase its charges due to the increased workload. (Example based on a person with $150,000 in annual compensation and a search that takes twelve weeks. Phone, travel and other expenses are extra.)
Choosing the right executive search firm can be difficult due to the many companies in the market. Throughout the United States and the rest of the world, there are so-called boutique firms (smaller local firms) and international chains consisting of a large group of search firms linked together in the same network. The large chains are easy to locate, as they frequently appear in rankings and industry magazines or newsletters like the Executive Recruiter News, published by Kennedy information (800-531-0007 or 603-585-6544).
The top international search firms listed subsequently are on the list merely because of their size in terms of revenue and number of consultants.
All state that they conduct their searches with the same universal highquality approach, so it is wise to conduct reference checks not only of the candidates involved in the process but also of the executive search that you are considering. The local boutique firms frequently use the selling
point of being the personal kind of headhunter and not the large factory type.
The following international executive search firms are considered to be the top ten, based on their revenue (see Table 7.1).
Working With an Executive Search Firm
Table 7.1 International executive search firms
┃ ┃Revenuea ┃
┃Firm ┃($ millions) Number of Offices ┃
┃Korn/Ferry international ┃301.1 71 ┃
┃Heidrick & Struggles ┃258.0 50 ┃
┃Spencer Stuart ┃244.7 40 ┃
┃Amrop International ┃187.0 79 ┃
┃Russell Reynolds Associates ┃184.3 33 ┃
┃Egon Zehnder International ┃181.9 46 ┃
┃Ray & Berndtson ┃l17.3 42 ┃
┃Ward Howell International ┃104.7 60 ┃
┃H. Neumann International ┃ 81.8 43 ┃
┃TranSearch International ┃ 68.0 60 ┃
Source: Executive Recruiter News, March 1998. Kennedy Information, LLC, New Hampshire, U.S.A.
Figures are 1997 worldwide consolidated revenues.
When considering buying the services of an executive search firm, also ask yourself if you are buying their work methods or a specific individual's expertise. Normally, you would like to get a combination of the two. If you are interested in working with the so-called top-notch headhunters in the United States, it is possible to obtain information on some of these through the book The New Career Makers, by John Sibbald, published in 1995 (third edition), which can be ordered through Kennedy Information (800-531-6544 or 603-585-6544). This book presents profiles on 250 out- standing individuals within the field, nominated by clients and peers. The individuals are indexed by twenty-one functional and forty-three industry areas of specialization. Keep in mind that there are also other excellent headhunters out there who are not listed in the book.
The most frequently used--and easiest--method of finding an executive search firm is through the grapevine or your own private network.
Very few companies are willing to experiment with a headhunter who does not have a good reputation. If a search firm has done a good job for someone that you know, then at least you get some kind of security. Buying the service of an executive search firm is difficult because what you are buying is trust and not a tangible product like a car or a new suit. Therefore, it is very important to investigate whether your headhunter is a good bet.
Even if an executive search firm is recommended, those recommending it might not have extensive experience with search firms and therefore do not know what to expect. This means that a mediocre headhunter can get a high recommendation because of ignorance in the marketplace. It is important to listen to recommendations but still be very critical You should also always consider more than just one executive search firm.
After all, you are going to have to pay them a large amount of money and
give them lots of trust to do the job.
For the U.S. market, The Directory of Executive Recruiters, Corporate Edition, published by Kennedy Information in t998, gives you updated information on more than lO,000 individual recruiters at almost 6,000 offices in North America. The book has indexed the consultants and firms by industry specialties and functional expertise. When selecting a firm, you also must decide if your needs are local or international. If the search is international, then you need someone with international capabilities, but if your recruitment needs are local, a boutique firm could be as efficient as a large firm with international affiliations.
When deciding on an executive search firm, you should obtain the following information from the firm during the meeting:
▲ Presentation of the credentials of the firm and its employees. Ask for written material presenting both the people you are dealing with and their consultants.
▲ History, size of the firm, and who its clients are.
▲ The firm's fees, methods of payment, and the required time it takes to solve the search.
▲ Guarantees and rules for off-limit that it can provide.
▲ After explaining your needs, ask how the firm would handle the assignment (basically how it would conduct each step and the different timelines). Get details on the most critical part of the search, the research phase, and find out how the firm gets information on candidates who are not coming from their old-boys' network or filing cabinet.
▲ Get a minimum of five recent references. Inform the firm that you want the references from searches conducted within the last few months. Also ask for permission to pick references yourself from the client list that you were presented with. From this list pick one or two companies that are similar to yours.
- Get an example of a typical position specification, target list, candidate report, and reference report.
Here are questions to ask the executive search firm's references
▲ Whv was the particular executive search firm selected?
- How much time did the firm need to complete the search(es), and how many qualified candidates did it come up with?
Working With an Executive Search Firm
▲ What kind of positions did the firm recruit to, and what was thesuccess rate for each position?
▲ How often were you updated during the course of the search on what was going on?
▲ How was the quality of the written material that the search firm provided, such as the position specification, candidate or assessment reports and the reference checks?
▲ On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate the firm that you used (10 being the best score).
▲ Was there something during the process that you were not happy about?
▲ How did the firm participate in the final negotiation?
▲ Are there any other executive search firms that you have heard good things about?
After meeting some executive firms that you feel comfortable with and that meet the requirements listed previously, you should be able to select the right firm to assist you.
After selecting an executive search firm you must confirm in a contract what you as a client are buying and the financial obligations and terms that are involved. After the contract has been signed, the firm should provide the following within ten working days:
Position specification (see the section "Defining the Job" in Chapter 1).
Complete list of target companies, prospects, and sources that will be contacted (see Chapter 2).
Time schedule for the telephone screening, and when you can get feedback on candidates who appear to have both the required qualifications and motivation for the position. This is the step before the consultant conducts the face-to-face interview (see the section "Time Schedule" in Chapter 2).
- Time schedule for when you can expect to receive the first candidate reports and meet with candidates (see Chapter 2).
Your Role in the Search Process Versus the
Executive Search Firm's Role
As a client, you are concerned not only that you get a good candidate in place, but also that your executive search firm conducts the search with speed and high-quality market research. Even though you are the client, you should arrange to be available for the executive search consultant to ensure that misunderstandings and delays are prevented. Keep in mind that your search is most likely not the only search on your consultant's agenda (this is also a good sign). Therefore, it is unrealistic to expect any quicker time span than what has been described in this book. Shortcuts mean a faster process, but also a risk of not getting what you want. The result, in such a case, could be having to start all over again, greatly lengthening the process. However, if the executive search firm has not taken on too much work and is up to date on how a search should be conducted (as explained in this book), you should be able to get a final candidate presentation four to six weeks after the official start-up date.
During the search you might feel that you have no control over what is going on, or what is not going on. This book shows you what to expect.
Keep in mind that every modern search firm works on a computer system and therefore can give you updated information with current status at any point during the search. Modern headhunting is based on hard work with a predefined strategy and work method, and not like the old days when the success rate of the search depended on how many close friends you might have (old-boys' network). The old-boys' network is a helpful supplement, but original research and published information will always be the basis for the highest success rate. Based on these facts, you should be able to get speedy updates throughout the search regarding its status and what to expect. You should expect the extensive documentation detailed in this book to be available from a high-quality executive search firm.
There are different approaches to the final interviews. Some executive search firms believe that the candidate reports provided to the client are so thorough that it is safe to let the client meet the candidates by himself or herself. One argument for this approach is that candidates behave more freely than when a third party is sitting in on the meeting. Another school of thought is that the consultant can help the candidate sell himself or herself at the final interview. It is also possible that you as the client are not used to interviewing, and therefore might not be able to obtain the necessary information. Also, the consultant can help you sell the position and your company. Whether you have a consultant present is up to you
After all, it is the consultant's job to provide you with candidates who are highly qualified, so your goal in the meeting with each candidate should merely be to get a feel for the chemistry to help you decide if this is someone who you would like to work with. Based on the extensive candidate brief and appraisal described in Chapter 4, you should be successful in meeting the candidates yourself.
After deciding on a final candidate to whom you would like to extend an offer, the negotiation starts. At this final stage of the search, it is most common that you as the client extend the offer, but the consultant can assist with his or her expertise. The consultant can also be of great help in the follow-up with the final candidate to ensure that everything is on track and that there are no misunderstandings.
Every written offer extended should include a clause that the offer is contingent on no adverse surprises surfacing during the final reference checks (see Chapter 5). It is the executive search consultant's responsibility to conduct these final checks, and it is essential that they be done. It is also the consultant's responsibility to contact all of the people who were contacted during the search, including the finalists who did not make it all the way through.
After a candidate has become a placement, the executive search consultant should follow up with both you and the candidate regarding how everything is going. If, for some unexpected reason, the placement ends up leaving his or her position before one year after the starting date, it is common practice at the professional executive search firms that they find you a replacement free of charge (although you will have to pay the expenses that will occur, such as travel for consultant and clients, taxi, or lunches).
Interview With the Experts
In this chapter, three experts in the field of executive search have been interviewed with the most frequently asked questions. Each person is responsible for his or her own particular segment in the search process. They are working for three of the leading international executive search firms.
They all have extensive experience and have achieved great recognition for their work.
Henrietta Davis, Research Director
Century City, United States
1. How do you choose the parameters .for selecting target industries and companies?
Target companies are normally selected by using the client organization as a model and identifying other companies of a comparable size (inrevenues or number of employees), in a similar or comparable industry, failing within a defined geographic area, and excluding clients and other companies protected by Korn/Ferry International. Particular attention is paid to organizations having similar dynamics to that of the client; for example, rapid growth, a recent or impending Initial Public Offering (IPO), global operations, and comparable technologies. The target list is further refined by eliminating companies deemed inappropriate by the client or consultant and including organizations identified by the client as desirable targets but which might not otherwise have met the established parameters.
2. How many contacts or targets do you need to get a sufficient calling list?
The number of companies is tvpicallv twenty-five to fifty, but could be smaller or considerabiv larger, depending upon the complexity of the job specification, geographic constraints, compensation package, and other considerations.
3. How do you choose published material, and are there some basic directories that you tend to use more than others?
Directories are selected primarily on the basis of their accuracy and overall usefulness. There are a number of basic publications including, but not limited to, Dun & Bradstreet, Standard & Poor's, Ward's, the Directory of Corporate Affiliations, and the Leadership Directories (Yellow Books). These are all helpful in the establishment of target lists; many provide the names and titles of company officers and directories, and some are available on CD-ROM as well as in the traditional bound versions. in addition, there are many function- and industry-specific associations that publish their own directories.
4. What is the split-up (in terms of numbers) between original research, own personal network, published information and previous searches on the target list ?
This depends largely on the level of expertise and industry knowledge of the researcher, but would be approximately:
▲ Original research: 30 percent
▲ Personal network: 20 percent
▲ Published information: 30 percent
▲ Prior searches: 20 percent
5. Describe your approach when identifying a target within a specific company.
Researchers call a company and request that they be connected to the appropriate department. Upon reaching the desired area they ask appropriate questions, for example, "Who is the head of marketing, and what is his or her actual title?" They will then attempt to identify the individual's direct reports and/or superiors, responsibilities, department size, and so forth. Direct-dial telephone numbers are obtained whenever possible.
6. What is the biggest obstacle when calling someone to do identification (ID) work, and what is the success rate?
The biggest obstacle when requesting ID work is failure to communicate the client's needs, appropriate industries, and the functional areas to be penetrated. If a researcher is given inadequate direction, his or her ability to produce accurate information will suffer accordingly. It is imperative that the individual directing the research effort have a clear under-standing of the client's requirements and the job specification of the position to be filled.
The success rate varies, depending upon the level of difficulty of the search and the experience of the researcher. The overall average rate is about 80 to 85 percent.
7. What is the time frame for making a good target list?
Depending upon the complexity of the job specification, industry knowledge and/or level of experience of the researcher, and the overall search parameters, production of a target list of companies could take from one to five hours.
8. How do you organize your information, and why do you do it this way?
All information gathered through the research process is coded and entered into the Korn/Ferry database. This includes both updated and new candidates, company data, and affiliated structures. Most researchers also develop and maintain subject files of information on specific functional areas, industries, individuals, or companies.
9. What are the requirements (basics)for making a good target list?
You should understand the client's needs, the requirements for the position, listening to direction, common sense, and creativity.
10. How do you see the future of ID work?
The future of ID work is predictable only in that it will become more difficult as new industries emerge and corporate hierarchies change or become more complicated due to mergers, acquisitions, or divestitures.
In addition, voice mail frequently precludes a researcher from speaking with potentially helpful individuals within a target company, and many organizations decline to provide or verify information on their employees.
Justin Carpenter, Research Manager
A. T. KEARNEY EXECUTIVE SEARCH
1. How do you start out the calling process, in the hunt for candidates?
Our strategy is likened to one of ever-expanding circles. The innermost circle defines the pool of candidates most likely to be right for the position; the outermost circle represents the probable extent of the candidate universe. The most straightforward strategy is to concentrate on the inner circles, working outward only when that most immediate pool is either exhausted or, as can happen, the assignment takes on other characteristics that require a broadening of the initial strategy.
First calls on any assignment are always more difficult; I try to target second rank candidates rather than prime targets in order to warm up and refine my pitch.
2. How do you pitch the people whom you get hold of?
In our view, involvement is the key to the ability of the research team to market job opportunities. From proper briefings with consultants, or, much better still, face-to-face with the client, the researcher will have a much better understanding of the position and the associated dynamics-he or she will probably feel more affinity to the client and will want to get the job done rather than try to sell another soulless typewritten proposal. In essence, when thejob "comes alive," the researchers are at their most effective.
A further tangible result of this style of participation is that the research team has much more to say; they gain better ideas of how to market the position and whom to pitch it to.
3. What message do you leave when you cannot get hold of someone?
Messages left with personal voice mails and secretaries should be clear and succinct; leave your name, company, and enough of a clue to suggest it may be a headhunting call. Use your judgment on each call but never, as with all calls, fabricate an untruth. It is very important that you dearly state in the message that you are seeking assistance. You do not want someone to lose his or her job because you did not get your message right.
When leaving a message on voice mail, you can also make the position for which you are hiring sound extremely attractive. If you must leave a message with a secretary, keep it extremely simple just to make sure she or he does not get the opportunity to convey it incorrectly.
4. How do you deal with difficult switchboard operators and secretaries?
This is a two-part problem: (1) making sure you get through to the person, and (2) making sure you identify the right person to be contacted.
Unfortunately there are no magic solutions to getting around a secretary who has been told not to put calls through. There are many methods, but none are foolproof. Voice mail and gaining direct lines are probably the most obvious solutions.
Switchboard operators are becoming very aware of their role in defense of the organization, and in many cases they are not given the information we need in terms of job title or description to avoid the risk that they will pass this detail on. Departmental secretaries are more useful, but again there are no guarantees that they will be helpful or accurate. More fruitful research can be conducted from department to department, which requires researchers to think about the people they need to identify and to understand their position in the structure.
5. How many do you call on a given search, and when do you stop or reduce the number of calls?
Researchers should make as many calls as required to be able to understand the dynamics of the market--the key players and industry trends, for example, as well as identifying and approaching suitable candidates.
Our experience suggests that quality work targeting the most likely sources of candidates pays dividends as opposed to a more volume-oriented smile and dial approach.
Calls on assignments should be seen in terms of opportunity cost; there are always competing needs for resources, so it makes commercial sense for researchers to make fewer but more accurately targeted approaches.
Volume calling is still an integral part of executing the assignment. However, excessive calling may suggest a weak search strategy or a fundamental question mark over the attractiveness of the position, which needs to be addressed with the client.
6. How do you decide if someone is right or wrong?
You should employ a series of "filters" to refine the short list of potential candidates. There are a number of key drivers that a researcher should recognize as being nonnegotiable; these are often macroskills such as the possession of specific product knowledge or functional expertise. Clearly in the filtering process we need to eliminate all those without these key core skills.
The more difficult part of the process is the fine tuning—conducting a telephone interview and trying to develop the conversation so that high- value questions in terms of the person's past performance and motivation can be addressed. Ultimately, the process relies on judgment that is conditioned by having executed a good number of assignments, ideally in the same or similar industry. If in doubt, discuss with the consultant or client.
7. If someone appears to be "on target," what do you do next with him or her?
First of all I try to get them to send me their resume or curriculum vitae (CV). If the time line is tight, then it is very important to just develop the CV over the phone. In most cases the resume that you receive from a candidate or prospect lacks information that you are seeking. Therefore, if you have the time, the results usually get better when you put it together yourself. After gathering the prospect or candidate's background information I arrange a face-to-face interview.
8. How do you organize your information?
Each call is logged on the in-house database. Progress reports are derived directly from this system and put into a user-friendly format
Above all, researchers or consultants should produce a report that not only shows the raw data of names contacted or identified but also some form of structure; a logical line of argument that reflects a strong methodology.
9. What is the time frame for finding candidates, and how many do you need ?
The time frame for finding candidates is getting shorter and shorter!
In the "good old days," a short list might be expected after twelve weeks; now it is closer to six weeks. This is manageable with the appropriate research and database resources. How many candidates do I need? As many as required so that the client is highly confident and is viewing the
best and most appropriate candidates from a true and fair view of the marketplace.
10. What happens if you cannot find any candidates?
Each approach call should be considered as a source or candidate call.
I start on the basis of "What if it goes horribly wrong--the client has paid X fees, what am I going to show for it?"
I need to be able to demonstrate that I have not only been through the logical places to go but also applied some lateral thinking. On occasion there is a fundamental issue that renders the position very unattractive: poor salary, unclear reporting lines, market perception of the client.
I believe the approach on each call should be to get information such as this and, as consultants, be in a position to make recommendations as to a change of search strategy or to undertake a fundamental revision of the position. The search firm should not wait for six weeks to articulate any "snags"; good researchers should identify common theme problems early on, indeed within weeks if not days. This should be relayed directly and immediately to the consultant or client.
Overall, if no one is interested, avoid surprising anyone by being up front with the true state of affairs.
11. What do you do if you have a person who is interested in the position but not right for it?
Each call should be seen as a marketing call; do not turn cold on someone because he or she does not fit the specification. He or she may know someone who is right; a careful switch sell can be worked if the person is told clearly why he or she is inappropriate. The researcher may have to execute an assignment where that person is fight in the not-too- distant future--think of developing the database. As a final example, especially if the person is senior, a well-presented approach call by someone who understands the marketplace is an excellent form of business development.
12. How do you approach highly qualified candidates who turn you down immediately?
If the person is genuinely considered to be a good potential candidate, my specific approach is to be quite direct and address the issues openly as to why the person is not doing what I had expected. Only by developing a flank exchange of views and getting to the roots of motivation and what the person wants can the researcher understand why he or she has been turned down and, more important, how the client is viewed, how attractive the position is, what would be required for the person to think again, and, for the future, what the person is looking to do.
Doug Smith, Managing Director
WARD HOWELL INTERNATIONAL
Chicago, United States
1. How do you prepare for a face-to-face interview?
You must have a thorough understanding of the company and the role--scope, responsibility, and such. In other words, what the client really needs. Once you have prepared the mental template and a list of questions-both specific and open-ended for the interview--then you are ready to proceed. Last, review the candidate's resume or background in advance--identify areas you want to explore and any inconsistencies that you want to focus on, to try to get to know the person behind the paper.
2. How much time do you spend on interviewing someone?
You should spend as much time as necessary to get a thorough understanding of the individual and his or her appropriateness for the role: average time one and one-half to two hours. You might also have a second interview by telephone to follow up on some additional questions.
3. What are the basic characteristics that you are constantly looking for, and how do you do it ?
i focus on two areas: "soft" and "hard." For the soft area, I look for basic personal values. For example, are the individual's values stated consistent with his or her actions? In the hard area, does the candidate have the intellectual skills and experience to tackle the task at hand? Ask for examples of what the candidate means when talking about their experiences and views.
4. How do you know what to ask a candidate?
You must really understand the role, the company, and the industry dynamics. Only then can you ask the right kinds of questions. And remember, each candidate is different and may have different kinds of the same experience.
5. How do you make a candidate reveal information ?
Ask open-ended questions---How? Why? Ask for anecdotal examples.
6. How do you organize the information from the interview, and how do you use it afterward?
Prepare a template of key interview questions. While recording the answers, include personal impressions, body language, and so forth. In order to have fresh recollections, the report should be completed within twenty-four to thirty-six hours after the interview session.
7. What is the next step after someone has been interviewed?
Give yourself a chance to reflect on the interview--are your day after impressions the same? Upon review, do you sense any inconsistencies? If the impressions are positive, you may review them with the client and follow up with a detailed report. Give the candidate an opportunity to reflect upon the meeting with you and encourage him or her to contact you if there are any questions.
8. At what point in the process can you reference check someone, and how do you go about doing it?
If a candidate is currently employed, you must be sensitive to the confidentiality of the discussion and not allow the candidate to be compromised with the current employer. If the candidate has a high profile within an industry, anecdotal references may be gained quickly and easily with no threat of compromise.
9. If someone you speak to does not have what it takes, how do you deal with it?
You must be honest with candidates--tell them about their status in the search as soon as it has been determined. It is important to be honest to a point--give constructive feedback.
10. How many do you usually interview in a search, and when do you decide to stop interviewing?
In order to generate a valid slate of four to six credible candidates, it is highly likely that twelve to sixteen face-to-face interviews are required.
You stop interviewing when the client is satisfied with the initial slate presented or when the recruiter has a high level of confidence of successful completion.
11. What makes someone good at interviewing and reference checking?
You must be able to make the candidate or reference comfortable and at ease. Honesty and ability to be credible--you must know what is needed. It is also very important to show respect to the candidate or reference-for not only giving you his or her views but his or her time as well.Ability to ask follow-up questions, tough questions, and others.