Attracting, selecting, and retaining top talent is a challenge for many businesses. Join long-time executive search professional Scott Peterson, alongside Steve Yakesh, President of Direct Hire & Executive Leadership Search at one of the leading executive search firms, to discuss insights and techniques to assist companies to achieve their best results. If you’re an executive leader looking for advice on hiring the best talent for your company, you’ll want to hear this advice from these industry experts.
Steve Yakesh | President, Direct Hire & Executive Leadership Search
As President of Direct Hire & Executive Search, Steve Yakesh leads Versique’s award-winning permanent placement division with more than 20 years of experience. Additionally, he guides strategy for Versique’s twelve practice areas, including IT, HR, Finance & Accounting, Engineering & Operations, Sales, CPG, Digital Marketing, Executive Retained Search, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Family Owned and Demand Generation.
Scott Peterson | Vice President, Executive Leadership Search
Scott Peterson leads the Retained Executive Search division at Versique as the Senior Practice Director. In his role, Scott fills critically-important senior level positions such as CEO, CFO, CIO, COO. Scott has over 20 years of experience in executive recruiting. Additionally, Scott has also served on the Board of Directors the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation, Medina Golf and Country Club, as well as several youth sports organizations.
|Get ready for your weekly dose of talent strategies and tactics from industry leaders to help you attract, select and retain your top talent. You are listening to Versique’s Inside Executive Search with Steve Yakesh and Scott Peterson.
|Hello and welcome to the Inside Executive Search podcast. My name is Steve Yakesh and this show is for business owners, board members and executives exploring strategies and tactics to attract, select and retain the very best. If you’re not feeling 100% confident that you have a plan to do just this, keep listening, this podcast will help you get there. That said, I’d like to bring in Scott Peterson from Versique Search.
|Hi Steve. Good to be back again for week number seven.
|So to recap, we started with a series around attracting and you gave a brilliant summary preview last week of a what we’re going to be talking about in the coming episodes, which is all around selecting the right candidate and how to do that. So we’re going to dive right in and focus on who, meaning who should be the interview team and how are they going to play their part in helping to select the right people.
|Yeah, and certainly as you think about putting the right team together, if you’re doing it completely internally at your company best that there’ll be a process around that. If you’re using a firm there’ll be a slightly different process and so we’ll want to maybe compare and contrast those two as we go here as well, Steve. That’s a good idea.
|All right. We’ll just pick a fictitious position, so let’s just say we, or a company is recruiting a Chief Operating Officer. So I’ll set the table, so it’s going to report into the CEO, the CEO is reporting to a board of directors. Correct. And the Chief Operating Officer as one of five direct reports to the CEO.
|Yeah. That’s a common way to look at it, right? Yep.
|So that being said, who should be apart of the interview team?
|Well one would assume that everybody that reports to that peer group would be part of it. Certainly the CEO that the position reports to but potentially either all the board or some of the board members, it doesn’t have to be all of them, but there could be some key individuals that like to be part of the objective of hiring process or are a part of the committee that deals with hiring executive. Sure. I also would encourage there to be people that report to this position as part of the process. Maybe not every single person, but the reason being is there’s a culture to that CEO group, right? There’s a culture to the company, there’s a subculture and you want to really find a person that’s best going to fit all of those things. So having the constituency of that COO’s area of that responsibility I think is important as well.
|Yeah, no, I get that, and I think even if you pick out one or two and if you get feedback, hey, this person is going to teach me a lot, I love his or her way they approach this. It just helps validate what you’re probably hearing during the peer interviews and, or the CEO or board interviews. Right.
|Also you typically see a representative from HR. Again, depending on the position, it could be the VP of Human Resources, it might be the Head of Talent Acquisition, again just depending on the complexity of the organization.
|Okay. Well you mentioned the head of HR, Head of Talent Acquisition and that kind of goes into one where I’m going to skip ahead a little bit, but it’s a critical one is you need somebody inside your organization, really playing project manager and making sure that there’s one single person gathering everybody’s feedback. Right. And more importantly, communicating with the candidates. Correct.
|Yeah, you’re right on Steve. Typically, that’s going to be someone in HR. It doesn’t have to be. If you are using an outside firm, the firm usually is that one to project management. Meaning they coordinate the candidates schedules, they understand their compensation structure, that kind of stuff. So again, internally, typically it’s resides in HR because there’s some confidentiality around the position and or compensation benefits, but also if you use an outside firm, they play that role. Perfect.
|Okay. So I know we internally at Versique, we really focus on making sure there’s alignment in three key areas. So, it needs to be obviously a job and skills fit, but the other two are just as critical and has to be a good culture fit and it has to be a good career move for the candidate. So, I’m going to throw that back to you, so as you’re putting all your interviews, do you subscribe to everybody’s interviewing for everything or do you pick out this group is interviewing for job fit, this group is culture fit. What’s your thoughts?
|Yeah, I think it’s an efficient, if everybody asks the same questions and the list would be too long. Meaning, Steve, you and I were interviewing a candidate, Steve, we’d want to focus on our areas maybe of expertise or interest. Sure. Maybe you’ve been with the company for a long time, so you’re the historian, culture guy, right? So you’ll drive into that side of the candidate and see what in their background is a nice mesh for motivation. Mine might be I’m a technical person in engineering. Which you’re not. Which I am not, but let’s assume for a moment, and so maybe I’m going to dive more deeply into his technical ability to manage an engineering department or an engineering group. So, it becomes just more efficient and really drives more alignment that way in terms of the question in the process.
|Perfect. So, going back to our project manager. Let’s say it’s the head of HR, how do you subscribe if I’m the tenured culture historian guy, am I giving feedback on a scale of one to 10? Am I just giving commentary? How do you organize or give direction to funnel the right information to whoever’s project managing the project?
|It really starts before the interview event starts with, here’s the questions we want you to ask and here’s a criteria based assessment. We’ve already been pre talked to so maybe it’s by the project manager than the hiring project manager. Here’s how we’re going to evaluate our talent based on culture. Here’s the questions. Here’s the assessment. Same with technical. Same with cultural fit, long-term motivational fit, all those things, but everybody will have a set of questions that is consistent from candidate to candidate. So, Steve, you’ll ask the same candidate over four or five candidates, the same questions at the same evaluation.
|Perfect. So talk to me about timing. we alluded to it in our preview, the importance of keeping the momentum of the interview process going for the candidate experience, but talk about how that’s beneficial as somebody that’s interviewing and evaluating candidates?
|Well, yeah, certainly and with all the stuff that’s going on in companies it’s how do you make sure that the same team of interviewers is part of every single interview. It’s really about preplanning, right? Steve, we’ve got five candidates coming in, I need to block Steve’s calendar five times in a short period of time to get that done, and so there’s a commitment level if you’re going to be part of the interview process that you have to give back to the organization. If there’s too much time between interviews, it affects your decision process or your evaluation process. It also affects the candidate. So again, if candidate one came in on January 1st and the last candidate was seen on April 1st, that’s when the first round was done, this candidate from January 1st is likely not interested anymore, likely probably got another job or is going to stay where they are because they didn’t like the process and the culture didn’t fit with their expectations on the culture.
|Yeah and I think it was episode five, it was that employment brand, right? If I had bad experience because there’s significant amount of time in between step two and three and I lose interest, now I’m not going to represent your employment brand very favorably if I’m in talking to somebody six months from now.
|Right, and I think the best way to control that is communication. If there is going to be some time in between, make sure that you communicate and tell that first candidate, you know, we’re good, we’re still going to the process, it was spring break time and we’re going to be kind of reengaging after spring break because of people’s schedules. I think most people are going to be understanding of that as long as they’ve been communicated with. Outside of that to constrict the interview time, at least for the first interviews is critical, to keep everybody engaged, including the internal interviewers as well as the candidates.
|Yeah, and I think to going back to that project management component of it, if there is two weeks in between, that’s okay if the candidates know that at a time or I also give a lot of recommendations of providing commitment of feedback. So again, if it’s going to take you five days to get the candidate interview feedback, that’s okay if they know it, but if they’re expecting it, they want a day after or two days and now you’re delaying it another three days, that’s when you lose candidates as well.
|I think it’s just the key again that gets back to communication. I mean when we take on these searches for our clients, we have a weekly standing call, whether we go over a weekly dashboard and that same thing could be applied internally too. Whoever is managing the process really needs to lay out the timeline and see where you’re at in the process from sourcing of candidates, the attraction to the selection and then ultimately the onboarding, the ultimate selection and hiring of the person. So, I encourage internal companies to have that same sort of set of expectations of here’s my timeline for hiring this position and stay on track as much as possible, and if you get off track, just communicate that that’s what happened to the candidates as well as internal interviewers too, because it could push their calendars around a bit as well.
|So I’m going to give you an interview process in theory and poke holes in and if this is the right one or if you would do it differently. So us again, Chief Operating Officer role reporting to the CEO with four peers and this role being the fifth. Board of Directors come in first interview, right with the CEO or do I start somewhere else?
|I would say yes, right to the CEO because if you don’t have a connection there and all the other interviews will be a waste of time. Couldn’t agree with you more. So, if that first interview might not be a group of 10, it might be a of four, and then as you come out of that before, now you’ve got alignment with CEO and candidate, candidates excited, CEOs excited, now you do the remainder of the either team that works for them or the peers and it’s a much more efficient process so you’re getting someone that wants to come and work there and you have a CEO that’s excited about the candidate, so they have to be part of that first process.
|All right. So the CEO interviews the candidates first, they then go on to their peer groups, maybe in teams of two or one on ones with the team of four. From there than we’re having some of the staff that are going to report into the role, give their flavor. Again, it all depends, but
|I like having one or two key employees, maybe a new employee in the area and maybe tenured employee in the area, get their feedback. Most of the time that’s not a yes or no, it’s a validated validation. That’s how I would flow with the process. That’s a good benchmark.
|Perfect, and then you wrap it back up with the CEO in a formal, informal over dinner, drinks happy hour, what do you recommend?
|Again, it can vary a lot, but I like a formal finish with an informal, congratulations, or hey, we’re at the end here, any final thoughts, any final questions, concerns, what did you hear on your other interviews? But make it over dinner where it’s a bit more formal. It just gives that nice feeling at the end because they’re going to be working together, and it just gives that nice feeling at the end because they are going to be working together.
|Yeah, and this technically isn’t a who, but we’ll get into it in future podcasts, but a lot of organizations are inserting a assessment if it’s a full industrial assessment you may have a psychologist that’s interacting with the candidate probably towards the latter part of the stage. Yes, so our recommendation is
|I mean, there’s a lot of studies out there that there’s over almost 80% of companies now with over a hundred employees that are doing an assessment at the executive level hires. That number’s only going up according to the research, and so yes, be prepared that you’re going to do assessments and, and your candidates should know that coming in. Again, going back to communicating. Going back to communicating, setting it up the right way. Again, if you’re using a firm, the firm will obviously explained that to the candidates as well. And then, what is the assessment? What does it involve? Just an online one, which takes an hour or 30 minutes or is it the full industrial psychologists like you said, which is a full day going through a whole process, and we’ve seen every variation in between. Assessments are here I think to stay and I think they’re great validation tools that companies have found a lot of value in.
|All right, the only person or people part of our interview team that we haven’t talked about is the Board of Directors. Do you bring them in prior to that informal or I should say formal meeting between the CEO and the candidate or when do you recommend the Board coming in?
|I would say you bring the Board into play when you have your final two or three candidates, so if you had a panel of six candidates you are reviewing and now you’re deciding between two or three, that’s when I would bring in the advisory board or if it’s a public company, the real board into play and use their years of experience at companies they’d probably run to validate those final candidates.
|Yeah and I have seen it too where the board will, again, it’s not a yes or no, but really draw out, like you said, just given their years of experience and expertise a few additional questions to arm the CEO with when he or she is going through that final interview. Right. It can be a great tool.
|And to be honest with boards, motivation or something different. They’re thinking succession planning too. Yeah. They’re thinking about who is the next person that can step into the CEO if something should happen to the CEO. Doesn’t mean they’re doing a bad job. It’s just we’re always looking at the what ifs. Absolutely. Yeah.
|Perfect. Well that’s going to wrap up the who. We will obviously address the when and the how and the what, along with the selection bias that can come into play and give you some strategies on how to not let that come into play in future podcasts. But that we’ll wrap this one up. So as always, if you like what you hear, subscribe to our channel on Apple podcasts and Spotify and coming soon to iHeart Media and Google Play. So that we’ll wrap this one up, Scott. We got another one in the can for one more week and we’ll do it again next week.
|That sounds like a plan.
|Cool. Well, if you want to get ahold of Scott, feel free to look him up on versique.com or they can find you on LinkedIn. Sounds great! We’ll talk next week. Alright, talk to you then.
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