5 Key Questions to Ask When Signing with an Executive Search Recruiter

Filling an open executive position is a serious undertaking that has a lasting impact on your organization. It is also a time-consuming and stressful process, especially if your team does not have the bandwidth to create and execute an effective executive search and recruitment strategy. Recruiting can be a job in and of itself, and most leaders do not have the time to add yet another lengthy list of tasks to their to-do list.

In response, companies throughout the world have moved from in-house recruitment to enlisting the skills of an executive recruiter. By outsourcing talent acquisition to the experts, companies can find the high-quality candidates they want with significantly less effort on their part. Even better, because the new hires are chosen strategically and fully vetted, potential turnover is significantly lower.

Not all executive recruiters are created equal. In my 30-plus years serving as an executive recruiter, I have found that it takes keen insight into the DNA of an organization, plus a sound strategic approach to attracting and securing top talent. You do not want to invest money into a recruiter who drags out the process, charges a premium percentage, and brings in lackluster candidates. Just as you would do your due diligence in hiring a new employee, so too should you look carefully at who you enlist for help in recruiting.

Here are the top five questions to ask when considering a signature retained search:

1. Does the recruiter have an executive search process for evaluating/defining the needs and culture of your company?

Every recruiter should begin the search process by getting to know your company. At Healthcare Talent Advisors, we conduct stakeholder interviews and review the organizational structure to develop and define the culture within the company.

This portion of the process is incredibly important in ensuring that your candidate will be interested in joining your organization — and if they will be a good fit once hired. Before signing on with a retained search, ask your aspiring recruiter if they begin their process with a deep dive into organizational operations, customer needs, and employee needs. If they say no, or they fail to illustrate an understanding of just how important this step is, it is time to move on.

2. What is the strategy for conducting the candidate search?

If recruiting were as simple as throwing up a two-paragraph job description on the company website, there would be no need for consultants. Unfortunately, you cannot just hang a “Help Wanted” sign on the virtual door and attract the right leads — especially when recruiting to fill executive positions. You want top candidates to be excited about applying for a position!

The strategic process should include the development of a job description, executive profiles, and a list of recruiting targets. Ask the consultant how they typically approach the development of strategy and recruiting materials before signing on the dotted line. You do not want to pay for work you could have done on your own.

3. How is top talent identified?

Talent identification is where you can truly separate the leaders in recruitment from those who still need to perfect their skills. It is one of the more time-consuming aspects of the process and one that requires a comprehensive network and a knack for communication.

When I work to identify prospective team members for my clients, I will typically explore my network while also identifying new sources. Search for recruiters with similar dedication and you will have a much higher rate of success. Ensure they are as invested in the outcome as you are.

4. Are interview resources and other evaluation tools provided?

Any executive worth hiring will be evaluating your company at the same time that you are interviewing them. That means that your recruiter’s interview process should be professional, streamlined and designed to put your company’s best foot forward. They should be pitching your company and the position just as hard as the candidate is pitching themselves.

At the same time, your recruitment specialist should also be discreetly checking references as well as providing support in interviewing and evaluating candidates. There’s no point in a recruiter interviewing a candidate and then sending them to you to start over again from ground zero. Rather, the recruiter should provide comprehensive notes and evaluation, and only present candidates to you that have the potential to be the right fit. Interviewing can be a long and arduous process, so it’s vital that your recruiter helps you to accelerate the process. Ask for details on their exact contribution to the interviewing process and ensure it is included in your contract. The more comprehensive their involvement, the better.

5. Is there a debriefing process? Do they consult until the offer letter is signed?

As you approach the end of the recruitment process, it is still critical that you receive support from your recruiter. At Healthcare Talent Advisors, that means facilitating client-to-candidate communication, providing recommendations during compensation negotiation, and working with the candidate to accommodate family needs like relocation.

Your executive recruiter should include these services as part of a retained search, as they are the experts on the selected candidate and can contribute valuable insight that supports stakeholders at the conclusion of the search. Healthcare Talent Advisors provides support all the way through to the onboarding and integration process to ensure the transition is smooth for all parties.

Are you interested in learning more about how executive recruiting services can help you identify and hire top talent at your organization? Healthcare Talent Advisors can help you connect with the best candidates, streamline the interview process, and find you the best fit for the role. Give us a call today to learn how you can get started with no upfront costs.