11 Best Executive Recruitment Lessons

11 Best Executive Recruitment Lessons

When it comes to hiring, advice for recruiting recent college grads just doesn’t apply to positions like CTO and CFO. That’s why we asked 11 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:

“What is the best recruiting lesson you’ve learned about hiring for a senior position within your company?”

Executive Recruitment Tips

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. Look for Hunger 

“I run a relatively small business that year after year recruits top performers from our much larger competitors. We do this by getting people who are frustrated with the slow pace and general bureaucracy that exists in large businesses. I want people hungry to drive growth and be responsible for results; happily, our key hires are looking for exactly this in their next job, with me.” ~ John RoodNext Step Test Preparation

2. Sit Down for a Meal With Them 

“You spend a LOT of time with a senior hire. One of the key reasons a good hire typically works is you interact well and get along. When you have a meal with someone you can easily read if they are formal/informal, what their interests are outside of work, how they approach the business problem they need to solve, and if they share a similar worldview to your own.” ~ JT Allen, myFootpath LLC

3. Make Sure They Have Healthy Side Projects 

“My best people have always been the ones who couldn’t sit still even when they weren’t working a traditional job. Most of them were burned out by office life, and they were smart enough to get by on their own but could be convinced to join my company. These people are endlessly creative and driven, and I look for independent online projects when hiring now.” ~ Adam Steele, The Magistrate

4. Hire for Culture 

Culture trumps strategy. If you hire a senior person who is a cultural mismatch, you will likely do some real damage to your organization. Ask for examples of when they lived some of your cultural values and norms and what the outcomes were. At the same time, determine whether they have exemplified cultural values that are NOT closely held by your company to find red flags.” ~ Eric MathewsStart Co.

5. Trust Your Gut 

“One key lesson I’ve learned is to trust my gut when something doesn’t feel right. As a first-time entrepreneur, it’s hard to determine who the best hire is going to be. Here’s when you should lean on others to help you interview and hire. However, when your gut says “no,” regardless of what others tell you, listen to it. I’ve often regretted the times when I didn’t.” ~ Roberto AnguloAfterCollege

6. Focus on HR From Day One 

“One of the best tips I can give novice entrepreneurs about hiring is to put a major portion of your focus on your first team members. Those who follow can be easily replaced, but the first ones will surely determine the product, the marketing and the chances of success. ” ~ Yoav VilnerRanky

7. Follow the Rule of Three 

“There is no shortcut to hiring someone for a senior position. We use the rule of three — interview at least three candidates, in at least three different settings and with at least three different employees or company partners whom they might be working closely with if hired. This might seem intensive, but it’s better to be thorough at the start of a crucial, potentially life-changing engagement.” ~ Peggy ShellCreative Alignments

8. Think in Terms of Numbers 

“When I hired my first employee, I thought of this person as 50 percent of the business. The second hire was a third of our company. The fourth represented 25 percent, and so on. Evaluate a candidate’s skills, experience, drive and potential with your company through a numbers lens. You’ll know how heavily to weigh his or her value to the company, especially a senior-level hire, and avoid damage control later.” ~ Brett FarmiloeMarkitors

9. Make Sure They Can Teach You Something 

“My best hires have been people who know more than I do about their area. If they can challenge my perceptions, improve my understanding, or show me a new and better way to do something, I’ll be impressed — far more so than if they’re afraid to challenge me, spout industry-standard clichés, or haven’t engaged in any original thinking.” ~ Justin BlanchardServerMania Inc.

10. Spend More Time Looking for Culture Fit Than Anything Else 

“For a senior leadership position, skills are a given. There are many individuals who will be qualified. The key thing an organization must look for is cultural fit. We spend more time interviewing for culture at the leadership level than we do anything else. If you hire a leader who does not belong, no one will follow him or her and you demonstrate that your culture is not valued.” ~ Aviva Leebow Wolmer, Pacesetter

11. Spend Time Outside the Office 

“Go to dinner or breakfast and make sure you like the person outside the office. If you end up hiring them, most likely you will be spending a lot of time together. When someone comes in for interviews you may not get to know the person well enough and they may have their guard up. If you are doing something casual, they will feel more comfortable and you can get to know them on a different level.” ~ Jayna Cooke, EVENTup

Business Meeting Photo via Shutterstock

The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.