In executive search a lot of things lead to one thing: the interview. In fact almost any search starts out with an interview, involves some interviews in the middle and ends with a very important interview. So clearly, interviews are something to be very good at, no matter what side of the process you’re on.
What the company needs to do
Sure, as a company you’re sitting at the “good” end of the table at the job interview – you might think. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have the candidate in the bag before he even gets there. Executive candidates (especially the really good ones – and those are the ones you want) can afford to be very picky and they usually know how to get what they want – or they wouldn’t be where they are. You need to thoroughly go through these things with your headhunter before the interview to prepare a setting that fits all of you. He knows the candidate and can help you.
Prepare the interview well! Who do you need in the room? And who do you REALLY need in the room? How can you make sure you cover all necessary topics in the interview so that you can evaluate whether the candidate fits your profile? Think outside the box when you want to find out the candidate’s personality. You need to prepare the questions that make you see what’s not in the resume. Try to aim for distinct questions that call for examples of the candidate’s experience. Ask your headhunter for advise!
You need to be clear (before hand!) about how you want to decide. Who is involved in the decision about whether the candidate is the right one or not? Be very specific about that. It might even make it more clear who you’re looking for.
What the candidate needs to do
Keeping this in mind there are some good hints about how a candidate can use his headhunter in interview situations to his advantage. The first interview(s) the candidate has with the headhunter anyway. It’s obvious that the candidate should be professional and prepared. But also he can postpone a call if caught off guard (or at the “old” job) for better preparation.
In any case the candidate should try to find a level with the headhunter where they can both be open. The headhunter doesn’t have to “hit it off” with the candidate on a personal level (or vice versa) – in fact it’s even better if he doesn’t – but he needs to get a feel for how the candidate fits personally. So the candidate should try to find similarities with the company and the position that really speak to the headhunter. In order to prepare that it’s a must to very thoroughly research the company and pitch ideas for the future position.
Another good way for a candidate to be convincing in all possible interview situations is to proactively provide information. Why are you really so good at what you’re doing? What has the interviewer not asked that sheds light on your achievements? What episode in your worklife are you proud of and why? Don’t be shy with examples, get them out there. Ask questions yourself!
What the headhunter needs to do
Obviously the headhunter doesn’t just sit between the chairs and acts as a buffer. The headhunter needs to always have his sensors in both directions and needs to prepare and conduct every interview in a very professional way. And that’s a lot of work! You can recognize a good headhunter by the way he’s organized in interview situations. The headhunter needs to help you. Whether you’re the client or the candidate.