Running a successful interview process – one that yields the best hire possible – is a challenge. And it becomes even more challenging during an executive-level search. Making a set of interviews an iterative and revealing series of conversations is the key to finding exceptional talent and cultural fit that will drive impact over the long term. That means planning ahead, communicating with all the stakeholders, and having a “flexibly structured” plan for every step of the process.
Interviews are by no means a perfect method to identify talent, but they are simply a baseline requirement for recruiting. In this three-part series, we will share what we think helps ensure a productive interview experience from start to finish:
- Defining the Need
- Designing the Process
- Designating the Responsibilities
Part I: Defining the Need
The Best Tool to Begin an Executive Recruiting Process
Some hiring managers start the hiring process by jumping straight into writing the job description, or worse yet, asking someone in Human Resources (HR) to write it for them. Most people dread writing a job spec. It can feel overwhelming to put pen to paper and write a compelling description of everything the organization needs and what this role will need to accomplish. Remember that a job description is really more of a marketing document to attract candidates and help them get a basic understanding and potentially envision themselves in the specifications.
Before anyone can write a job description, though, it helps to define the goals. As the Hiring Manager, start by asking yourself one critical question: If the placed candidate hits it out of the park in their first 12-18 months in the role, what do the success outcomes look like?
Defining the need is the most important step of any recruiting process. You may be feeling a lot of urgency about getting a new Chief Operating Officer or Head of Marketing in the door as soon as possible. But to find the right hire, it is essential to be strategic and know what you are looking for before you start to search for it.
Just like building any new strategy, it is best to start with a plan. By defining what success looks like and then crafting a matrix of the must have, highly desirable, and nice-to-have requirements to achieve those goals for the role, you can create a “scorecard” that will be the framework for the role.
Using a Scorecard to Define the Job Qualifications
With those bullets in mind, the job description should essentially write itself once you add verbiage about the company. In addition, you will have done the heavy lifting already to clearly communicate year one goals to the new hire, which will feed into the performance management process. So, to begin designing your scorecard:
- Start by thinking through what success will look like for the best hire 12-18 months into the role.
Define what the 3 to 4 key success outcomes are that this candidate needs to focus on, and specify how will success be measured in the first 12-18 months:
- For technical roles, this could mean faster dev cycles, shorter outages, and better customer Net Promoter Scores on the product;
- For sales roles, it could be hitting revenue generation financial targets, lower team turnover, and improving Employer Net Performance (eNPS) scores to improve team morale.
- Next, lay out specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you want your new hire to meet at the outset for each of those success outcome goals. Get as objective, granular, and measurable as possible. You want a clear idea of what it would look like for them to knock it out of the park. This step will save you time when you get the hire onboard because this set of KPIs can serve as the performance management criteria, so consider it a wise investment of time. Examples could be:
- Improve Customer or eNPS by X points
- Lower turnover by X%
- Lower average system outage times by X hours
- Achieve revenue goals of $X by Y date
- Note that not all outcomes may have numerical KPIs, but they may have timeline KPIs, like “complete hiring or current org plan by Q2 of 2022.”
- Then identify what skills (extrinsics) and characteristics (intrinsics) someone will need to achieve that success.
- Extrinsics are tied to job skills or career experience. These could be years of experience in a particular industry or role, such as “5 or more years of people leadership and experience building a sales team of at least 10 or more.” This can also be having specific technical knowledge such as “web and mobile software architecture.”
- Intrinsics are personal characteristics or traits that this candidate will need to succeed in the role and within the organization. If one of the success outcomes is tied to leading cross-functional teams, an intrinsic criterion you may want is they have a “track record of actively breaking down silos and fostering cross-functional collaboration and teamwork.”
Once you have identified the areas above, it becomes far easier to craft a matrix of the requirements for the role – both extrinsic skills and intrinsic characteristics that will serve as a “scorecard” through the interview process.
- First, summarize your success outcomes.
– This summary can help your interviewers shape their questions to focus on the essential areas of the role and the company.
- With the success outcomes in mind as the end goal, define 3-9 extrinsics and lay them out in a matrix that allows you to rank the importance for each extrinsic within this role.
– A common ranking system is “must have,” “highly desirable,” and “nice to have,” but you must be disciplined to have no more than 3-5 “must haves” Beware of the temptation to define “the perfect person” where everything is a must have and the bar is so high, essentially no one human being will likely possess everything. This should feel like an exercise in ruthless prioritization so that you hire someone who possesses the most important criteria for the role. Aiming to hire a unicorn is never a realistic goal!
- Repeat the matrix exercise with the intrinsics, with the same emphasis on prioritization and defining what the role MUST HAVE versus what would be nice to have. That way, you avoid the set of interviewers falling into the “Goldilocks trap” where it is too easy to find fault or gaps in every candidate you meet.
From that set of requirements, it will be so much easier to write a compelling job description. Your job description will typically start with a standard description of the company, followed by a brief description of the role’s responsibilities that is simply an expansion of the success outcomes. But the bulk of the job description is specific job requirements which you can pull straight from the matrix/scorecard. In practice, it can look like this:
- Responsibilities: The summary of success outcomes you identified.
- Experience: The skills or extrinsics needed for this role.
- Personal Attributes: The intrinsics or personal characteristics needed to be successful in achieving the success outcomes.
Writing a job description is a critical step in finding the ideal hire. By strategically crafting a scorecard, you will be one step closer to hiring the right executive for your company.
Start the process and download your scorecard now: