The Secret Sauce in Leading a Successful Search – Part III


This is the third in a series on the Secret Sauce of leading a successful search.  The first two chapters included the important steps of crafting the job posting and then the important research and networking.  This musing is dedicated to the important vetting process in determining the finalists for a search.

If we have done our job well in the initial research, recruiting and storytelling, we will have a number of resumes to review and start the short-listing.  This vetting process can seem overwhelming to many, as there are so many factors to consider, but the key is to remain focused on fit and match and the core requirements of the leadership role. We are always working to gain perspective if this is an immediate fit, short-term and then long-term fit.

Through a number of phone calls, skype meetings and discussions we are able to qualify the interest and sincerity of the candidates in the role and opportunity.  Once we have our finalist list, we ask candidates for two added ingredients.   We often ask these select candidates to answer two very specific questions related this this leadership role as directed by our partner.  This added step is discussed early on in the process over the traditional letter of introduction. The seriousness and dedication to this assignment is often another telling tale of the interest of a candidate.  We ask these responses to be handled within one page and limit these questions to two as we are also sensitive of time constraints.  

Another factor we use in this vetting process is the start of our due diligence gaining permission to speak with one reference in a former manager or colleague.  This reference is another excellent triangulation point for us as we determine fit and match and gain added insights into the candidate.  The full referencing is reserved for the top finalists.  We are in search of consistency in this vetting process.

Armed with all of this information, we continue to discern candidates for whom this opportunity would be a next professional step and also a welcomed career step for families, spouses and significant others.   The combination of these conversations, the responses to these questions, and the spirit on the phone and over skype all play a role in determining the ranking of the candidates.  Just as there must be an enticing story behind the opportunity, there must be a story behind the candidate that lends to the fit and match for this role.  This is where candidates who can imagine this new role and can translate their past experiences into potential new successes will shine.

As we present our finalists to our partner, our goal is to hear them say they want to hire each and every one!   We try to present four to six finalists, but each search is very different.   After this meeting where we introduce and discuss each of the finalists, our goal is to have the hiring manager or committee be prepared to make the next steps.  We encourage our partners to take the time to skype all finalists they are interested in before making the invitation for an on-site meeting.   In our project management model, this is all planned out in-advance with times held for these meetings so as to keep this process on-time and on-task. This time commitment on the front end also respects the candidate and their decision to continue on in the process.

Following the presentation and the follow-up skype or a phone appointment, it is time to bring candidates on-site for “game day”.   

Next, I will share best practices in designing interview schedules and lessons we have learned in the recruiting and courting process in my next musing.  I will give you a hint now, everyone is being interviewed!



The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

Add new comment

Please enter the text you see in the image below: