When an interview is secured, you may breathe a sigh of relief. Finally, you’re going to see a candidate first-hand – in the same room as you and other key stakeholders. It feels good to have a shortlist. As an executive search firm, we’re used to it.
Yet the hard work has just begun… Next, you’ll have to probe their character, experience and aims for the future. Which means you must have a few excellent questions prepared, or else lose the chance to really understand what they want from the position.
You should use some of the following ones in order to uncover the truth around their expectations and yours.
Good candidates know where their aspirations may have stemmed from. During the initial meeting, you should ask them to describe a time in which leadership struck a chord and exposed a new way to guide and motivate other people.
Be it at home or work, they will have an incident to share if they’ve really been thinking about why your brand is right for seeing those ambitions through. Discussing this memory helps you get to know the applicant more deeply, and it encourages them to reflect on how constituent skills have built their outlook on the world.
This is a critical question because adaptive technical knowledge is becoming less and less disposable. It could mean reading up on software, automation, team management or data protection – anything that tells someone how the brand may fare in opposition to those on the cutting edge of your industry.
The interviewee doesn’t have to be an expert, but they should show interest in things that are fresh and innovative. And their curiosity has to go deeper than merely “X or Y development has taken place.” Discerning cause and effect is the sign of a worthy strategist.
Throughout a senior role, the candidate will have to be comfortable relying on themselves to some degree. You must have confidence in their autonomy. So, ask them what they like to do – both in the context of a team and in their personal time – to stay focused.
The answer to this question may also determine where they see themselves in five or ten years, with a view to learn as much as they can.
Brands, as we know, are mutable. When big internal changes are directed, the senior figure has to adapt to them. Candidates are ideally able to flex their personal aims around yours; if they can evidence this, all the better.
Maybe they can recall a time when one such direction gave them a renewed sense of possibility. They may have taken the differing circumstance and ran with it, spotting an avenue to sales, boosted team morale or tighter processes. As much as your leadership role demands independence, it also relies on listening to key shareholders and acting on their advice.
We hope these suggestions are useful. Take them into every interview, and consider using an executive search firm like SPE Resourcing. We find, scrutinise and introduce first-class candidates to you. Speak to us for more details.