Finding the Best Viable Candidate vs Someone Who’s ‘a fit’


Companies hire a Search Firm because they believe it will produce a higher quality candidate than they could produce on their own. Companies hire aretained Search Firm because they are committed to a top-priority hire that they believe will be a game-changer. Yet many firms believe their objective is merely to deliver a short list of candidates that “fit the bill,” hoping their customer will feel confident enough to make the offer to one of them. However, the true goal of a retained Executive Search Firm should always be to identify, persuade, and deliver the highest quality candidates that exceed their client’s expectations, perhaps even opening their mind to possibilities for the role they hadn’t previously considered.

The importance of hiring the right person for a key, strategic role cannot be overstated. Whether you are replacing a retiring CFO of 30 years or hiring your company’s first VP, Sales, this person will be responsible for developing and implementing strategies that will shape your company’s future. Damage done by ineffective executives as a product of selecting candidates who simply “seemed to check the boxes,” can be irreparable. Wasted time can hurt a public reputation or concern a key investor.

Of course, it is impossible to guarantee with complete certainty that a selected candidate will be effective. That being said, a candidate who excites you is much more likely to succeed than one you merely feel is adequate.

Furthermore, Search Firms request a retainer because it demonstrates commitment to the hire, creates an intimate partnership where they become willing to go the extra mile for you, and demonstrates that you understand the value of the service they provide. In return, firms should deliver a level of quality that demonstrates their commitment to the hire and the results of which are obvious. Firms’ aim is and should be to provide ROI that enables the growth and overarching business objectives of their customers. From this quality of service is where trust and relationships develop and where Search Firms find their best and most rewarding client engagements.

A colleague of mine, Jeff, a Senior Search Consultant of over ten years, was recently tasked with finding the VP, Engineering for an emerging cooking-technology start up based on the East Coast. After five weeks of market analysis, sourcing, outreach, multiple rounds of interviews, and weekly status calls with the client, Jeff submitted a short list. After a series of interviews conducted by the client, they decided they were not going to hire a VP, Engineering. Instead, they decided to upgrade the title to CTO and hire their favorite of the candidates.

It is safe to say that we have developed a strong and rewarding relationship with this particular company – and have done a number of additional searches for them since. Not only is delivering a high-quality service driving ROI for the provider themselves, but it is the right way of doing things, and the only way to build a reputation to be proud of.



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