When a business hires an executive, it’s looking for someone who can solve problems, take current processes to the next level and be an instrumental asset in the business’s future growth. Because leaders are such a vital part of a company’s operations, choosing the right candidate for an executive-level position is crucial to the company’s success.
To that end, having the wrong individual in your executive team could have a damaging ripple effect within the company, so developing a vetting system that can help leaders choose the best individuals for these jobs requires extra care. Here, eight members of Young Entrepreneur Council examine some of the most effective vetting processes they’ve used in their own businesses to determine whether a potential executive hire is a good fit for their leadership.
1. Evaluate Their People Quotient
If someone is sitting for this interview, you know they have some level of leadership, competence and results, or else they would not be sitting there. What is less apparent is their emotional or people quotient. Leaders cannot lead without connecting with their employees. One above-and-beyond practice: do an interview, but go for dinner or drinks after, under the token of the appreciation. Try to get to know them at a more personal level, see how they interact with people outside your company—maybe the cab driver, the bartender or the waiter or waitress when you are out to dinner. That may tell you more about how they will manage their employees than asking about a past experience. – Anthony Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings
2. Research Them Thoroughly
After a thorough interview and test, we conduct research about the person. We call someone random from their oldest job and the school they graduated from. We make sure that the applicant’s answers, stories and character are somewhat connected to this colleague or classmate or teacher’s answers. Once this person is hired, they will work with all departments and know all the processes and policies. They will learn everything they have to know from different departments, roles, processes, etc. This is why, before fully hiring a person and entrusting them with this job, we need to ask about them (their performance, character, stats, knowledge, attendance, etc.), and based on this information we will be able to tell if they are actually a good fit. – Daisy Jing, Banish
3. Take Them On A Walk
Go for a walk and talk. The best way to really get to know anybody is to socialize with them a bit. The old famous walk-and-talk is one of my favorites. You meet up somewhere, grab a coffee and just walk and talk. It could be at a park, downtown or generally anywhere that’s safe and walkable. During this time you’ll have a relaxed atmosphere to discuss things outside of their resume and you’ll get to understand how they really think—and that’s the most important part. Lastly, you’ll get to know the person better and whether you would actually like to work with them. –Andy Karuza, LitPic
4. Have Other Team Members Interview Them
I recommend having your potential hires for any leadership position always be interviewed by others in the company (in addition to yourself). I used to do all my hiring completely myself and quickly realized that I wasn’t getting the fullest picture of my candidates. Having other members of my team interview candidates allowed me to discern a lot more about their personality and possible conflicts they would have, and to witness their leadership style, giving me a better understanding of what it would be like to work with them. –Rachel Beider, PRESS Modern Massage
5. Engage Them In Nuanced, Philosophical Discussion
All executives have some fiduciary responsibility to the company and a responsibility to understand, in plain terms, how we actually make money (and, therefore, stay in business). Sharing core financial reports, such as a company P&L or balance sheet (sometimes edited to remove sensitive data), and asking for their reaction and insights tests critical thinking and general business acumen. Our vetting practice also includes philosophical discussion. For example: What does the future hold for our marketplace? I want to see if they have some baseline understanding of our industry, and a presence of mind that’s bigger than their silo. I look for executives who can challenge my ideas, who also feel natural to engage with when discussing complicated or nuanced topics. –Jake Goldman, 10up Inc.
6. Take A Personalized Approach
Always build relationships with your hires. In the perfect world, you would promote people from within to become the executives in your company, but we all know it’s not always possible. So whenever you are recruiting for such a position, look for someone who’s not only top talent, but also a good fit both culturally and personally. Get to know your candidate, take a super personalized approach while hiring. It’s important to understand whether they will feel comfortable in your team and whether you’ll be able to keep them happy long term. –Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
7. Hire Them For A Paid Trial First
The best way to vet your pick for an executive position is with a paid trial. If everything else checks out, let them know that you’re interested in hiring them, but they need to show that they know their stuff. Spend some time shadowing with them for a couple of weeks and get a feel for their work ethics, leadership skills and accountability. At the end of the trial period, you can choose to hire them or try again. It’s worth noting that this vetting process is most useful when you’ve narrowed down potential hires to one or two candidates. – John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC
8. Ask For A Full-Fledged Presentation
Honestly, when I’m looking to hire a senior-level executive, I actually ask them to do a full-fledged presentation. The presentation must outline a clearly defined problem the company faced that they were in charge of solving. They must detail the problem itself, the solutions the company tried before that senior-level executive got involved and how the senior liable executive used critical thinking and strategic planning to come up with a solution that perhaps nobody in the organization had been able to suggest and implement before. This allows me to go beyond a resume and beyond references and get a sense of how the candidate actually thinks through a major challenge. It also gives me a sense of the clearly defined outcomes they were able to achieve at the end of the process. – Amine Rahal, IronMonk Solutions