With any job opening, you want to make sure you hire the right person. From interns and entry-level employees to senior leaders, you want to thoroughly vet and evaluate the newest addition to your team. However, when you're looking to hire for an executive-level positions, some extra time, work and detail is required to make the right choice.

That's why we asked a group of entrepreneurs to share their best vetting techniques for executive candidates. Follow their tips if you're looking to add someone new to your company's C-suite. 

Conduct multiple interviews with other executives.

Your current executive team knows what it takes to lead the various departments of your business. Why not have all of them take part in the interview process for your prospective hire?

"Before I bring on any prospective executive, I have our other executive team members interview the prospective hire to ensure the person has the right experience, expertise and will fit into our quirky culture," says Kristin Kimberly Marquet, founder of Marquet Media LLC. "Sometimes it takes two interviews, while other times it takes five interviews."

Take them to dinner with the whole management team.

While multiple rounds of interviews can be helpful, it's still often difficult to judge whether someone is truly a good cultural fit based solely on those conversations. That's why Syed Balkhi, co-founder of WPBeginner, recommends inviting the potential executive hire out to a meal with the management team. 

"Now the whole management team has the chance to get to know this potential hire," Balkhi says. "We don't have these dinners often, but when we have they were effective."

Give them paid trial work to test them out.

An executive hire is a huge investment, so you want to ensure this person can truly deliver their promised value. That's why Karl Kangur, founder and CEO of Above House, gives all potential executives a complex challenge as a part of paid trial work to assess their capabilities. 

"For example, before bringing on our Director of SEO, we took our most difficult clients' main challenges and had them conduct an audit and put together a three-month action plan," Kangur explains. "It's a great way to see their interest in the position and evaluate their practical skills."

Conduct a behavioral assessment.

According to Jennifer A. Barnes, CEO of Optima Office, Inc., behavioral assessments can give a lot of insight into the kind of person your potential executive is.

"I hire executives who already fit my culture and don't aim to change who my employees are," Barnes says. "I ask 20 questions over an hour interview. It really helps me to get to know my future employees and turn away the ones who I know won't be a good fit for my firm." 

Hire an independent recruiter.

Sometimes, a founder or CEO is just too close to their company to truly see whether someone is the best candidate. That's why Shu Saito, CEO of Godai, advises hiring an independent consultant or small boutique recruiting firm to help you find the perfect fit.

"They often do a more detailed job than larger recruiting firms -- and at a lower price," Saito explains. "If possible, find a recruiter who specializes in the particular area you are trying to fill." 

Look beyond their list of references.

A candidate for an executive position likely knows they will be more thoroughly vetted than the average entry or mid-level professional. While you should absolutely speak with all the references on their list, you may wish to call additional former colleagues or bosses from past companies to get the answers you're looking for.

"I make sure that I know the person I'm talking to and that I got all the details I need," says Daisy Jing, founder of Banish.

Ask the candidate to prepare a presentation for the current executive team.

If you really want to see the impact an executive hire will have, let them tell you themselves. Gabriel Krajicek, CEO of Kasasa, asks all executive-level candidates to prepare a 90-minute presentation for the other executives and chairman on how they will create strategic impact in their role.

"They get access to the entire executive team and key managers throughout the company to prepare," Krajicek says. "It's a hard process and requires 20 to 40 hours of work to do well. It reveals a lot about work ethic, how bad they want the job and their brainpower."

Published on: Oct 7, 2019
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