Becoming an executive could be the biggest career decision of your life. Before applying, every candidate should understand the executive hiring process. Going into your interview, you need to be prepared. As an experienced veteran or up-and-comer looking to climb the ranks, you can always improve your strategy. When the stakes are this high, you can’t afford to ignore helpful advice. Here are 8 aspects you should know about executive hiring process:
Winning over a single person usually is not enough. Hiring someone at this level will almost always require the approval of a committee of individuals. While there may be a leader who makes the ultimate decision, the committee will have veto rights. This means that any one person on the committee can sink your bid. Potential executives need to be aware of who is conducting the process. Leaders of this process need to trust their committee members and respect their right to veto candidates.
Your resume will be scrutinized. Like no other position, you need to be honest about where else you have worked in your career and what you have accomplished. Expect all of your references to be called, and any claims you make to be verified. For positions of this importance, companies need to ensure that they are hiring a qualified candidate.
Depending on the size of the business, you will likely be interviewed by the board of directors. Their positions will be public knowledge. You should come armed to the interview with as much knowledge of these individuals as possible.
No executive position should be filled after a single interview. Of course, there will be times when the board and hiring leader have essentially made their choice before the process begins, but there typically has to be a certain number of candidates. This means that for a few candidates, the interview will simply fulfill a quota. Do not be discouraged. If you impress the interviewers, you never know what impact it might have. Even if you lose out on one job, the people on these committees are well-connected. You could find yourself recommended for another position before you even apply.
The most qualified candidate is not always the best fit. When bringing in someone new at one of the highest levels of the business, they need to fit into the existing corporate culture. If employees are accustomed to a structure where executives are available and accessible, the new candidate needs to be of the same mold. Finding the right fit is key to keeping employees happy, and continuing success. However, a struggling company might be the exception to this rule, in which case potential candidates should be aware of the…
90 days: that’s the time frame to score all of your early wins. New executives need to hit the ground running and present tangible results within the first three months. If the culture needs to be changed for the sake of the business, this is the window of opportunity. Although finding someone at this level is time-consuming, the position is too important to keep someone around who is does not produce results. Go into your interview with a plan. If you are unsure of what needs to be done, you probably should not apply for the job.
You need to know the company to which you are applying. The committee and board of directors will expect you to inquire about the business during your interview. More importantly, you need to dig into the company. What might they be hiding from their candidates? What unforeseen obstacles might you have to overcome? Most businesses won’t air their dirty laundry in front of candidates. It’s your job to find the right information and then ask the right questions.
Unlike any other position, you have a chance at success if you have been interviewed. Although executive positions are more difficult to find, candidates are clearly qualified and likely have other options. The first choice could spurn the offer, or move on quickly if the fit isn’t right. Don’t give up. It is rare that you’ll ever be truly out of the running.
Preparation is the key. The more you know about the process, the better prepared you will be. The executive hiring process has a unique structure with which every candidate should be familiar. If you have made it this far in your career, then we assume that you understand the importance of this advice. Use your knowledge to ensure a successful interview; go get your dream job.
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