• The success of any organization is closely tied to the performance of its top-level executives.
  • Assessment of the right executive to bring into the organization is one of the biggest challenges for HR professionals today.
  • It is a holistic exercise that blends scientific analysis, gut feel, and an assessment method that will analyze the candidate’s skills, knowledge, qualifications, and personality.


Organizations need exceptional executives who can help navigate the firm successfully into the future. Similarly, executive candidates also want to join a business that will benefit from their talents and strengths.

Finding and hiring the right executives to lead the organization is a challenging task. Since executives advance in their careers and take on more responsibilities as the years go by, there is no doubt that attracting and retaining the right executive talent needs to be taken more seriously.


Assessing the executive candidate’s “fit” with the organization

It cannot be denied that the success of any organization is closely tied to the performance of its top-level executives. Without the right executive in the right position at the right time, the organization tends to produce mediocre outputs.

Assessment of the right executive to bring into the organization or to promote within remains one of the biggest challenges for HR professionals and their retained executive search firms. This is why it’s essential for recruiters to check for the candidate’s fit.

“Fit” is often used as a simplified term that will identify if the candidate is a good match for the organization. Recruiters should consider the candidate’s fit on three aspects:


Fit with the job

The organization needs to find candidates with experience that will match what the company needs for the future. To be able to make an informed choice, candidates need to understand what the executive role entails and more precisely, what they are signing up for.


Fit with the leader

The executive management team also needs to articulate the “must-have” qualities that they want to have as part of their team. Identifying those qualities upfront will help recruiters spot them during the interviews.

However, keep in mind that you should also be wary about the halo effect. This is the bias that recruiters tend to have when they have fallen prey to certain characteristics that they admire in a candidate.


Fit with others

Recruiters need to find out how the executive candidate will interact with others – the executive management team, their team members, and the organization as a whole. The hiring team needs to assess the candidate’s skills and personality against the group dynamics of the people he or she will work with.


Finding the Right Candidate at the Executive Level

As with any other recruitment efforts, candidate assessments at the executive level is both a science and an art. Though the demand is strong for getting the best executive talent, the recruitment industry remains to be a competitive market for senior talent for the following reasons:


Upgraded executive roles

Executive positions are constantly evolving and expanding. Companies are deciding to upgrade their executive-level employees to help them enter a new phase of growth in the industry such as making an acquisition or preparing for an initial public offering (IPO).


Demand for higher educational credentials

Nowadays, all credentials matter in the current job market. For senior-level candidates, an MBA and various industry certifications have become prerequisites in applying for a job at the executive level.


Greater industry visibility

Since executive level positions are now more visible to internal and external stakeholders, organizations also expect their candidates to have superb interpersonal and PR skills. Executive candidates need to be able to communicate well in person, in writing, and through other virtual channels.

Thus, assessing an executive candidate is more than just checking the facts in their extensive career. It involves a holistic exercise that blends scientific analysis, gut feel, and an assessment method that will analyze the candidate’s skills, knowledge, qualifications, and personality.


Getting to know the executive candidate

Recruiters in retained executive search firms need to use various approaches to get to know the candidates beyond their education, experience, and professional successes. In other words, they need to find out what makes them tick. Get to know them on a deeper level by finding out their personal history, their values, personalities, life experiences, failures and successes, their interests, and passions.

Workable, an online recruitment software, noted that recruiters need to look for the following traits when interviewing executive level candidates:


Strategic vision

Since executive level candidates will actively participate in the major decision-making process of the company, they are naturally responsible for its future. All their decisions will have an impact on the organization’s growth both on the short-term and the long-term. This is why recruiters need to ask interview questions that will reveal whether the candidate understands the company’s needs and make decisions that will drive growth for the future.


Leadership ability

Employees that hold executive roles need to be able to inspire and motivate their team members effectively. Recruiters must look for candidates that can confidently execute tough decisions, have solid problem-solving skills, and be a role model that will lead by example.


Goal-oriented approach

Since executives will be held accountable for their team’s results, recruiters need to ask questions that will identify if the candidates have a track record of success. These could include metrics such as meeting quotas or implementing successful campaigns.


The Hiring Environment at the Executive Level

When hiring at the executive level, it is vital for organizations to also look at both the technical and cultural factors to avoid a candidate mismatch. The technical side of the hiring process is often overlooked due to the assumption that candidates at the executive level already have extensive experience in the industry by their years in the profession. This is not always the case.

Consider delving more into the candidate’s experience by finding out how he or she has worked effectively with the operations of the business in their previous roles. You also need to find out what are the significant business systems changes they have made and their role in implementing those changes.

While technical skills tend to derail an executive’s ability to succeed in their new role, mismatches can also occur due to the lack of cultural fit. An executive candidate may come so well recommended that the organization may fail to determine if their leadership style is also a good match for their firm.

This is why hiring mistakes often happen when the organization fails to make its needs and expectations clear at the outset so that they can level with the candidate’s expectations. It is the recruiter’s responsibility to ensure that a candidate receives the right information when deciding whether the position is something that they should consider.

The cost and disruption of executive turnover are simply too high to take a chance on a badly-matched candidate. Here are some tips for avoiding candidate mismatch:


Hire for the future

Make executive hiring based on what the management wants the company to look like in the future. Don’t just select a candidate only for the purpose of resolving the needs of the company as it is today.


Involve the Board and Executive Management

For executive-level positions, the board and the executive management team need to be appropriately engaged in the hiring process. It ensures that the organization has adequately upheld its fiduciary responsibilities to their shareholders.


Get expert help with hard-to-fill positions

One of the most common reasons why mismatches occur is that hiring, at first glance, seems to be easier than it is. It’s not because businesses are incapable of finding great leaders all on their own. They are just generally too busy to devote themselves to a thorough process of candidate sourcing. Having a well-matched hire requires deep industry and market know-how that retained executive search firms have in spades.


Let us help you find the best executives that will drive your firm to greater heights.

Curran Daly and Associates is one of the top recruitment agencies in Vietnam that will help your organization find exceptional leaders who can navigate your firm into the future.

Our holistic and targeted approach for executive search service will help you find industry-leading candidates for the following roles: CEOs and other C-level executives (COO, CTO, CFO, CIO, CMO), Vice President, Directors, Principals, and other managerial positions in Vietnam. Partner with us and tell us more about your recruitment needs.



Consider “Fit” When Hiring Senior Execs. (2012). E-Scan Newsletter, 38(4), 4–5. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.upd.edu.ph/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bsu&AN=74692004&site=ehost-live

Executive interview questions template – Hiring | Workable. (2017). Recruiting Resources: How to Recruit and Hire Better. Retrieved 4 May 2019, from https://resources.workable.com/executive-interview-questions

Reiter, D. (2009). A holistic approach to assessing C-level candidates. Employment Relations Today (Wiley), 36(2), 29–35. https://doi.org.ezproxy.upd.edu.ph/10.1002/ert.20246

TWO PERSPECTIVES: Making the Right Fit At The Senior Level. (2012). Financial Executive, 28(2), 46–49. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.upd.edu.ph/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bsu&AN=74476420&site=ehost-live

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