The Spectrum Client Guide to successfully interviewing top executives

The key to successful interviewing (and to running a series of interviews conducted by your executive team) is to remain tightly focussed.

Here are Spectrum’s top 10 tips for interviewing prospective executive and board hires:

  1. Start the meeting on time, at a suitable venue, phones turned off. The interview should have your full attention. Give your best, as you would expect the candidate to.
  2. Remember the absolute core essence of the role, and assess candidates primarily against this. At senior executive level, the focus will be less about assessing functional skills, and more about the candidate’s suitability for delivering the next ‘stage of the journey’, be it start-up, commercialisation, pivot, transformation, innovation, or exit for example.
  3. Remain purposeful, and only involve your team members in the interview process if the role being recruited for has a direct relationship with their own role.
  4. When assessing candidates the key 3 criteria are: can they do the job, do they want to do the job, and can I work with them? The candidate’s motivation is often the least considered aspect by clients.
  5. Ask specific questions that garner a factual response, and take notes. This will help you avoid being derailed by the most charismatic candidate, and enable you to identify the most suitable.
  6. The presentation is the most effective of all the selection tools by far in my experience. Set a very clear topic that allows you to assess how the candidate would perform in role, both tactically and strategically.
  7. This is a two-way process. Half the allotted time should be for the candidate to ask questions of you. The perceptiveness of the candidate’s questions should form a key part of your assessment.
  8. I would personally not hire without having undertaken some formal of psychometric profiling. This should be completed at the end of an interview process to avoid injecting any undue bias into the interviews. Profiling can identify subtleties of behaviour which will help you best manage your appointed candidate.
  9. You can’t appoint everyone from the shortlist, so take the opportunity to leave a good impression of the company and of yourself with the candidates that are not appointed. If you can, also provide clear feedback directly or via your intermediary.
  10. The signing of a mutual NDA is often a sensible precaution, and, of course, avoids any questioning which could be deemed discriminatory.