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9 Tips to Ensure You Hire the Right Candidate | S1:E9

  • Episode 9
  • 'Inside Executive Search' Podcast

    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.

    Podcast Transcription

    Speaker_1: 00:01 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’re listening to Inside Executive Search with Steve Yakesh and Scott Peterson.
    Speaker_3: 00:31 Hello and welcome to the Inside Executive Search podcast. My name’s 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 are not feeling 100% confident that you have a plan to recruit the very best, stay tuned, this podcast will help you get there. That’s said, I’d like to bring in Mr. Scott Peterson from Versique Search.
    Speaker_4: 00:56 Good to be back again with you this week, Steve.
    Speaker_3: 00:59 Episode number eight, nine. Nine. Taylor says nine. Our executive producer Taylor. Yes, welcome Taylor. All right. Last week we covered the three key areas that we feel you should be evaluating candidates for. Quick Recap, it’s cultural and company fit, skill and job fit, and then most importantly and most overlooked, career fit. Not only now, but in the future, correct? Correct. All right, so Scott, this week we are going to talk about how to best evaluate talent. And again, we’re going to bucket these into three categories. Those categories are who should be evaluating and what they should be evaluating for and how to construct that plan. Then we’re going to talk about interviewing questions and more specifically the different types of interview questions that will help you get a good sense for each candidate. Then lastly, the vast majority of our clients are doing assessments, but there’s a hundred different types so we’ll try to break those down and group those different type of as
    Speaker_4: 02:27 Yeah, so we talked about that in an earlier episode about developing the team, who’s on the interview team, and we teased it, we teased it a little bit. Probably the easiest way is to give an example of it. If you have a CFO coming into a company in for an interview and you’ve got a set of interview people, staff on the team. It could be the CEO, it could be the head of HR, etc. Who’s going to ask what type of question, who’s going to ask the questions around company culture, who’s going to ask questions around more of the technical finance questions, who’s going to talk about kind of their personality fit, those sorts of things. And so, you don’t want everybody asking the fully loaded 25 questions. You really want them to focus on the areas that they might have expertise in and can add that value to the process.
    Speaker_3: 03:27 Is it safe to say, Scott, let’s say your CFO example, most CEOs haven’t come through the finance or are super knowledgeable on refinancing debt or debits and credits, whatever it might be, is it fair to say it’s okay to bring in maybe your CPA firm to participate or somebody that can assess the real technical skills?
    Speaker_4: 03:53 Yeah, and if you’re at a bigger company where I have a board of directors, there’s typically a financial expert on that board. That’s who I’d probably use in this case, but certainly you can use outside resources like your CPA firm, but again this might be a place where you have a person that reports to the CFO part of the process so you could have the VP of Finance, somebody like that.
    Speaker_3: 04:13 Controller or something like that. Perfect. Okay. Well then once you’ve determined who’s on the interview team, who’s interviewing for what, the type of questions that you can ask, so I’m just going to list them out and then get some feedback from you. So, there’s behavioral based questions, there’s cultural base questions, and then there’s the more specific skill based, so break down the differences for me and how would you use them throughout the interview process?
    Speaker_4: 04:42 Yeah, so what do you want to avoid in the interview process question is just the typical yes or no. Interviews go really short when you ask just yes or no question. So, behavior questions would be things like, tell me about an event at your company where there was a situation of X and Y and you had to restructure the department. Tell me how you handled that. Tell me how you approach people that you had to let go. Those sorts of things. So really getting down to how they handle situations from a behavior standpoint. Both good and bad. Both good and bad, correct. Then you get into cultural based questions. Your HR person or your Chief People Officer might ask a question about, tell me Steve about your last company you were at, what was the style of that company, were there casual Fridays, was it very chaotic or was it very structured? Really understanding what culture they came from and then maybe what culture they’re looking for and do those things line up. Yeah, and some of those behav
    Speaker_4: 06:00 Yeah, these questions are obviously intertwined. Getting back to a skills-based question, those are very simple, do you have x or y experience? Yes, but follow up with, tell me about that. Give me an example. Not just a yes or no answer. So never accept a yes or no answer. Always followed up with an open-ended question is what you need to do.
    Speaker_3: 06:24 Yeah. And I think most answers that I’m looking for are, here’s this situation, here was the action I took, and more importantly, this was the result or the outcome, right? I mean, that’s really what you’re hoping to get, so when you’re asking these questions I think it’s fair to say, phrase the questions in a way that stimulates a response that describes the situation, how did you handle it, what were the results, right?
    Speaker_4: 06:55 That’s exactly it. So, when you do that internally when you have your final candidates, whether it’s one, two, or three, when you’re doing reference checks, that same sort of questioning applies. You can get an answer from a reference even though today a lot of companies don’t like to provide anything more than, hey, they worked here from this date to this date. If you asked these behavioral type questions, tell me a time where he did this because that’s an example that candidate gave you, and they can confirm that either you did that project or were part of that team that won this big project etc. So, they’re all intertwined. References just validate what you just learned in these behavioral and cultural base questions and then we’ll go onto this next piece which kind of confirms and validates what you’re feeling through the interview process.
    Speaker_3: 07:46 Cool. All right. So before we get into the third topic, which is assessments, I’m going to throw you a curve ball. We haven’t talked about it, but it just kind of popped into my head. I’m going to throw it your way and get your guidance. In most of these executive level positions that you’re helping clients with or clients are doing on their own, nine out of ten generally end up in more of a casual setting, a dinner happy hour with that called that final candidate. I’m assuming at that point the behavioral, the cultural, a skills-based questions, those are all been answered. What guidance do you give your clients and how do you handle those more casual conversations?
    Speaker_4: 08:26 Yeah, I would encourage the clients first of all to do it and I think it’s an important piece to the overall process. What I think they need to make sure that they do, it becomes more of a conversation with a colleague, almost like they’ve already hired the person versus continuing on this behavioral or cultural sort of questions. This gives a time for the candidate to ask, let me ask you a situational question. How would you handle this internally if we have x, y, or z happening? I think it just gives them a time to get comfortable to talk more casually about maybe even things outside of what the job is, family, interests outside of the workplace, so I think it’s an absolutely critical piece because you do get to learn more about the person as a person versus a candidate.
    Speaker_3: 09:18 I think it’s a good point. It’s that transitional point from a candidate to a colleague or candidate to employee, that’s kind of that moment in time and employers need to take advantage of them.
    Speaker_4: 09:33 Yeah, and you’ve certainly may be more than one of those that happens as well depending on the complexity of the company, the size of it. Don’t necessarily think you have to be done with one with one of those meetings.
    Speaker_3: 09:46 Got It. Okay. All right. We’ll dive into the third piece, which is assessments. We talked earlier before recording this one, there’s really some very simplistic online answer 20 questions two different ways and it spits out your personality characteristics. On the other end it’s a full industrial assessment and then there’s myriads of them in between. What do you recommend when clients ask you, should we do assessments? How do we use them? Which type?
    Speaker_4: 10:21 Well, first of all, your question was do we recommend them? And the answer’s yes. The reason for that is it’s a validation tool about everything that you just learned about that candidate. It’s secondarily or maybe close number two would be it gives you an opportunity to identify areas for development in that candidate. You love this candidate. You absolutely think they can do the job, but the assessment shows a few areas of maybe opportunities for improvement, but they don’t preclude the candidate from being the right choice. They just know that there’s a developmental area that they want to emphasize with this candidate
    Speaker_3: 11:00 And then you assign them a board member that can mentor him/her in that area or another executive type of thing.
    Speaker_4: 11:06 Yeah, or if its ability to get in front of a group and speak effectively, maybe send them to a training seminar, those kinds of things. It allows you to have some insights into areas that maybe you’re questioning didn’t really uncover and then again validates what you know and feel through that process. In terms of what kind?
    Speaker_3: 11:30 I mean at the executive level and online personality index really
    Speaker_4: 11:34 probably doesn’t go very far. Yeah, so what we’re seeing is most companies of significant size, let’s say over a hundred employees, there’s a high percentage of companies that are doing some sort of assessment and that’s only going up because I think these assessment tools and surveys are doing a much better job of identifying those traits that you want on your team. So not one size fits all for every company. Some do a full day assessment with an industrial psychologist and testing and simulations and all that. You’ll see it from that level, that one, that’s the top level all the way down. Like you said, doing an online survey and online surveys, probably going to be more of your smaller organizations, privately held. Entry level type. Yeah, but when you get up to the executive level, they’re much more robust. It’s going to be significant investment in time and dollars for the company as well as the candidate.
    Speaker_3: 12:34 Yeah, and I know there’s some clients of ours that, they’ve used the same industrial psychologist for 15, 20 years and that individual really understands their culture. They even look at it through a little bit different lens and can provide even deeper insight once you start to build a relationship, so I’m assuming you would recommend, do your due diligence if you’re going to start deploying assessments in your interview process, but then stick with one that you know and trust because you gain so much more insight as they get to know you. Yeah, absolutely.
    Speaker_4: 13:07 Right, it’s the same thing with any service, right? The more you work with them, the more they know you, the better the results in the service they provide.
    Speaker_3: 13:16 Perfect. Okay. Well cool. That wraps up this episode. Next week as a quick preview, we’re going to talk about interview bias and when that happens, how to prevent it, what is it, etc. because it does come into play probably more than most people think. So, we’ll dive into that one next week, but like we said today, we’ll wrap this one up. As always, feel free to go out to Apple podcast, Google Play, iHeart Media, Spotify, wherever you find your favorite podcast. Hopefully we’re there and once you find it, subscribe and give that five-star review. Hopefully, we only except five stars. Yeah. Awesome. Well, if you want to get a hold of Scott and you can always find them on LinkedIn and or look them up on and reach out if you have any additional questions. As always, this was a lot of fun. All right, we’ll talk next week. We are in double digits now. Next week we’re going 10. We’re going double digits. All right. Talk to everybody soon.

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