4 Steps To Hiring The Right Executive For Your C-Suite

How to hire top leaders
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How one entrepreneur took a methodical approach to finding leaders—and is reaping the benefits.

Nearly half of employers admit to making a bad hire within the last year, which can cost a company 30 percent of the employee’s annual salary. The negative impact on your business growth and bottom line is exponentially higher when you hire the wrong C-Suite executive. How can you find and land quality leadership candidates?

The right hiring methodology is paramount to moving from a guessing game to a repeatable process with predictably high results. Who by ghSMART provided me with insight into the value of methods. This book taught me a four-step approach to ensuring C-Suite talent hires fit my company’s strategic direction. These steps include:

  • Defining precisely who I am looking for.
  • Building a formidable network.
  • Punching above my weight in candidates I approach.
  • Designing the interview process to limit bias.

With this methodology, I’ve built and maintained a strong C-Suite of executives who were instrumental in leading their previous companies to success. They are all former customers who believed in People.ai’s technology and culture enough to join its mission.

Here’s how you can hire the right executive for your C-Suite.

Define Who You Are Looking For

Defining your required skills and criteria early on narrows down the candidate pool. You will spend less time doing surface interviews, searching for “what feels right.” Instead, you’ll be scoring people on tangible and precise criteria.

Who provides an excellent framework for building a MOC (mission, outcomes and competency) document for the position.

Build a Formidable Network

When hiring for the C-Suite, networking is fundamental to creating a healthy pipeline of qualified candidates. A strong network provides access to talented people. Four of the last five executives I hired came from my network, accelerating the employment and onboarding process.

Networking is an art form. Delivering an elevator pitch will only get you so far. To make lasting connections, focus on getting to know people and building relationships. Those connections turn into friendships, and eventually, those people may want to become coworkers.

When talking to fellow executives, do your homework on who they are. Build rapport by asking insightful questions that spark meaningful conversations. Make sure each person learns something new from every interaction with you, even if you are not recruiting them. You will be surprised at the difference it makes—people will want to spend time with you because you bring insight and interesting ideas to the table. 

Punch Above Your Weight

Aim high. You want your C-Suite to push the envelope and propel your company into the future. That means seeking out the most qualified candidates, even if they seem out of your league.

A new executive should bring innovative and unique ideas. Sure, many candidates would do a good job, but you need one who will be outstanding. Establishing a strong network and cultivating relationships makes connections with those high-level prospects.

The best candidates will recognize the value of a thorough and deliberate interview process. If you put this much precision into their recruitment, they can surmise other company employees were thoughtfully hired and are highly talented.

Design a Structured Interview Process

A structured interview process provides more objectivity and leads to better hires. I delegate specific focuses to everyone on the hiring panel. Each member evaluates one skill set to compare apples to apples. People are scored based on answers to the same question, not what comes up in a free-flowing interview that may not cover the same topics with each candidate. I’ve found this approach reduces space for bias because interviewers are looking for quantitative proficiency in one area, not qualitative views like how much they like the person. 

I also set up specific scenarios during the hiring process to see how people do in the team dynamic. This helps identify when someone is not the right fit and prevents a costly hiring mistake.

Hiring the right people for the C-Suite is daunting, but landing good candidates is possible and even probable if you follow the right methodology. Creating a specific MOC before launching a search, building a formidable network, punching above your weight in candidate selection and designing a deliberate interview process empower you to hire someone who can help launch your company to new heights.

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