Hiring for a senior position at a company usually requires a lot more time and effort than hiring for other positions. In many cases, business owners may have a hard time finding the most effective way to source senior talent for their organization. You don’t want to lose out on great talent, but you also need to spot the best talent out of the field of applicants, because making a wrong hire at this level can spell disaster for the organization.
To offer some guidance, 13 professionals from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) use their own experience hiring for senior-level positions to reflect on the following question:
“What’s the best recruiting lesson you’ve learned when it comes to hiring for a senior position within your company? How has it affected future hires?”
Here’s a few of their most important tips.
1. Never Hire Out of Desperation
“The worst hiring decision I ever made for a senior-level role was because we were so swamped and I thought hiring for this role quickly was going to relieve a lot of stress. I ignored some signals that it wasn’t a great fit in the interview process because I just wanted to hire a person ASAP and it ended up creating a lot more stress and setting us back.” ~ Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.
2. Consider Their Values
“While experience, achievements and future goals are important, it is critical to consider their values. Especially when considering a candidate for a senior position, you need to make sure their values align with your business and that they will fit into and maintain your company culture. If they are out of step in this area, it can quickly lead to a clashing of views with the rest of the team.” ~ Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
3. Hold Multiple Interviews
“The key to recruiting for senior positions is multiple interviews. If you plan on putting someone in a high-profile position at your business, you need to make sure they are the right fit. Multiple interviews allow you to delve into the experience and personality of the candidate. Use this opportunity to learn more about the potential hire before you make anything official.” ~ Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
4. Ensure You’re Thrilled With Them
“Especially with a senior hire, if it’s not a ‘hell yes,’ then it’s a ‘no.’ It can be tempting when there has been a lengthy vacancy to fill the role with someone who meets most, but not all, of your expectations. A better solution would be to hire interim or contractor support to meet your temporary needs, and then continue to build your pool of candidates until you’re thrilled with a candidate.” ~ Madeleine Niebauer, vChief
5. Make the Process More Personable
“You need to make the process more personable. Skip the form letters and canned responses and personally communicate with the prospective hire in a genuine manner. Find out what they’re looking for in terms of the position and what you can offer to them from a company standpoint. This makes for higher quality and longer lasting hires at the senior level.” ~ Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
6. Look Within the Company
“I learned that when hiring for a senior position within your company, it’s best to look within. You might have a potential executive working for you right now, but they are not able to reach their full potential. Spend time looking at your existing employees to see if there’s someone who would fit in that role who already has plenty of experience working with your business.” ~ John Turner, SeedProd LLC
7. Gather Insights From Your Team
“Consider the qualities your team would be seeking when working with the new senior hire. Would they respect the new lead? Is there an alignment between the expectations of the team and the vision of the applicant? Gather insights (indirectly) from your team first and foremost, and build a desirable plan for the future. Get on the same page with the applicant and close them if they fit in.” ~ Mario Peshev, DevriX
8. Look for a History of Loyalty
“Look for people who have a strong history of loyalty and a good track record for sticking with a company for a longer period of time. This way you can trust that if the rest is a good fit, they will likely stick around.” ~ Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.
9. Consider the Four-Hour Plane Rule
“In addition to all the metrics surrounding competency and performance, one hiring rule I abide by is the four-hour plane rule. In short, I imagine if I were on a four-hour plane ride next to this person, would it be enjoyable? Would we have things to talk about? Would the environment be something I looked forward to or dreaded? You have to work with senior executives regularly, so it’s important you want to.” ~ Bill Gerber, AccountingDepartment.com
10. Find Someone Your Employees Will Respect
“If you’re planning to give someone within the company a higher role, then it’s vital to make sure that they are well-respected, if not well-liked, by your employees. You should look at the work they’ve done, whether they’ve volunteered to take on other tasks and how they interact with others. You want your employees to support that person, which makes it crucial to choose someone who works hard” ~ Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
11. Understand Their Goals
“In my experience recruiting people for senior positions, it’s crucial not to undermine why they want to work for your company. Many companies are wary of hiring those with senior-level experience in fear that they’ll leave the second they get a better offer. But by asking the right questions, such as what they want to accomplish at your company, you can figure out their motives.” ~ Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
12. Dig Deeper Into Their Experience
“Dig deeper into the details of their past work experience. In today’s society, job titles aren’t synonymous across companies. A senior-level position at a small startup isn’t going to carry identical weight for a large corporation. Gain an understanding of what day-to-day tasks they accomplished, how large their team was and how aligned their experience is with your needs.” ~ Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.
13. Test How Well They Can Perform
“Favor folks who can quickly apply their skill set. There are plenty of experienced candidates to choose from, but most are unable to turn their skills into meaningful output for your organization. Often, you might find senior-level hires only perform well in certain industries or with larger or smaller teams. So, you’ll want to test how well they can perform on the job before extending an offer.” ~ Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep Mattress