Recruiting a new CEO is a daunting task for any chair. The CEO is the only executive appointment the board makes. Getting it wrong is damaging for the organisation and puts great pressure on the chair.
One of the many decisions that the board must make during the process of finding and appointing the right CEO is the selection of an executive search organisation. So we’ve put together six questions that it is worth asking any executive search firm you are considering working with, to ensure that the search firm gives your appointment the time and care that it needs.
1. How many other searches will the consultant manage at the same time?
If the answer is more than two, the consultant will not be giving your search the real care and attention it needs, instead the work is really all being done by a more junior researcher.
2. How long will you spend on research?
Deep research that leaves no stone unturned takes time. It can’t be done in just two or three weeks.
3. In your last search, now many longlisted candidates were not already on your database?
This question tests whether a search firm is doing fresh research, or whether it is just relying on its database.
This is one of the distinguishing features of executive search, in contrast to a recruitment agency. A search firm will proactively dig out the right candidates beyond its existing network.
4. When did you last change your search process to reflect the unique requirements of a search?
Every search is different. A search ought to have the flexibility to adapt their process to each search, rather than adopt a one-size-fits-all approach.
5. Will the consultant meet the candidates before you present the longlist to us?
A good search firm ought to be working hard to sift out the best candidates before they present the longlist to you. This is part of the process for which you’re paying.
6. What is your success rate?
A good search firm will make sure that its success rate is nearly 100%. Sometimes a search may take longer than expected, sometimes the role may need to be reconfigured for the right candidate, but it is very rare that an appointment is impossible. A search firm who is serious about partnering with you will work hard to make sure a successful placement is made.
This piece was written by Allan, Founder and Director of Carnelian.