Tweaking Executive Search and Hiring Procedures to Cope with Savvy Candidates

By November 26, 2012 No Comments

A number of factors have come into play in recent years which have made the hiring process all the more complicated for the employer than it already was. While factors such as the decline in the economy creating a spike in unemployment in turn creating a swelling of the candidate pool to muck up the executive search and candidate sourcing process, may be chief among employers concerns, more subtle problems have arisen in recent years that may be going overlooked. As difficult as it has always been to effectively interview and assess candidates, unfortunately this matter has also become more complicated as candidates have learned what it is that the employer is looking for, how to answer questions with what the employer wants to hear, and how to present themselves. Any number of services and discussion forums now exist for the sole purpose of coaching individuals in every step of the interview process, from what to say, ask and do, to how to dress and behave. And while these steps still cannot mask the facts laid out in a candidate’s resume, their skills and experience, these well trained candidates do represent just one more issue on the checklist of difficulties, as it undermines the interviewer’s efforts to glean an accurate first impression and begin assessing the individual’s character.

With candidates now having been made savvy to the ways of the interviewer, the typical interview questions and expectations, it seems that if they are to continue doing their job effectively, employers will now have to find ways around the any coaching the candidate may have received in order to accurately assess them. To help in this search, here are a few tips brought together by the hiring professionals at executive search firms.

While this initial character assessment may have become flawed employers can still be just as effective in their duties by scaling up their efforts in other ways. One of the most often underappreciated tools in the hiring process is the background check. Though most employers seem to have come to the belief that anyone a candidate would deem worthy of referencing would only provide that candidate with a glowing recommendation, if they would only commit the time and effort to follow through on in these assessments employers might just be surprised. By carefully planning out a line of questioning that digs just a little bit deeper into the candidate’s history employers might find that even the most supportive of references might be made to spill the dirt on an individual whether they know it or not. There is a reason that this practice has long been a cornerstone of the hiring process and employers would be foolish not to make the best use of it that they can.

This last solution can be applied to the interview process as well. Where many candidates are now being tutored in the typical line of questioning used by employers and how best to answer these questions, by taking time to better plan out the questions they ask, and by asking a thorough line of follow up questions to those more expected inquiries, employers can whittle away at the candidate’s foreknowledge and tutoring to get down to a real, in coached level. Another strategy that has often been suggested for handling such issues is to ask the candidate a few random or off topic questions throughout the interview to catch them off guard and hopefully knock them out of their trained responses.


Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.  

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