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Executive Search Methodology

The methodology used in executive search is a recruitment that specializes in, attracting highly skilled talent in the positions of senior management, including CEO, CFO, COO, HDR and CIO.

This strategically fills important roles across, the private sectors, NGO’s as well as the Public sectors. The purpose of this is to leverage the experience and talent of the individuals in these positions to develop, strategies, policies, and oversee organizations far-flung operations.

Executive search started out as a function of the Human Resource consultancy division (Bernan, 2008). Over time there has been growth in the need for experienced professionals with companies having to widen their search pool. Companies are now in competition to engage the most experienced resources for business success and continuity.

This, in turn, has created the need for Executive Search Companies to provide specialized search services. Today, Executive search is viewed as a standalone service with more professionals specializing in this skill. Clients are now exploring numerous sources and ways to enrich their talent pool and executives.

Today, it is globally accepted for companies to seek the services of an Executive search firm. The use of technology has also greatly influenced the accuracy in which Executive Search Consultants can find executives.

The quality of leadership executives retained by any organization greatly influences its success and achievement of business goals and objectives. However, the demand for high-quality resources is extremely high today, with the same talent pool available to every employer.

To attract Senior Management and Business leaders you should consider Executive Search. Different consultants use different sources and methods to ensure that they get the right candidate for the right job. These different recruitment techniques are generally guided by the below methodology.

Initial search and engagement

Finding prime talent can be quite laborious. Thus, executive search firms are often brought on board to support the recruitment process. Executive search firms save on costs by lessening the probability of recruiting a bad hire. This can be attributed to their expertise in identifying potential candidates in the market.

Today, there are numerous executive search firms in the market. It is critical that the organization chooses a firm that can guarantee the fastest results within the most reasonable time. To achieve this, you will need to have numerous engagements with different firms. This helps you understand how they work, the tools they have and their engagement terms. All these are critical to making the decision on which firm to engage.

Once you have settled on the firm, you can now go through the terms of engagement and have a clearer understanding of the process. It is at this stage where you sign the contract of engagement.

Fact-finding and introductory meeting

The next step after the contract of engagement has been signed is to initiate the recruitment process. This is the stage at which the hiring executives can meet the consultants that will oversee the process.  Often, these stakeholders are senior and executive or board members.

During this meeting, the consultant is able to gather critical information on the specific requirements of the role. Here, the consultant can assess the company culture as well as the personalities of the hiring team. This information is crucial to help get a candidate that will fit in just right with the culture and personality requirements.

Furthermore, the consultant and the client set the specific deliverables and timelines for the search. The consultant will gather information to understand what prior effort has been made to fill the role and possible challenges they may face.

Determining the search methodology

In this stage, the consultant conducts a thorough analysis of the role and the market. Here, they determine what sources to use to reach both active and passive candidates. The consultant will determine what stages the candidates will go through before they are finally presented to the client. The consultant will also pick out which recruitment tools to use for example advertising, direct headhunting and networking, among others.

Long listing

Having developed the strategy, the search team starts the recruitment process to identify and profile potential candidates. Here the consultant uses numerous sources including their own database, referrals, job boards, networks, and even internal candidates. The objective during this phase is to come up with a large pool of candidates that are a possible fit for the position.


To get a finer shortlist, the potential longlisted candidates are then sifted through the specific role requirements. The consultants gather the candidates’ details as well as gauge their willingness to take up the said position. Furthermore, this process is key in determining whether the consultants need to source for more candidates.

Prospective candidate Interviewing

 In this stage, the search consultant interviews and evaluates top prospective candidates. To assess the candidate competencies, the consultants use advanced interview techniques such as competency-based interviewing. These techniques assess both the technical skills as well as their soft skills and Emotional Intelligence. The consultant uses several interview methods including Face to face interviews, virtual interviews, or written interviews.

Written Interview Report

Once the interview phase is complete and candidate selection is complete, the next stage is to prepare an interview report. This report details the candidate’s particulars such as their education, career history and specific interview notes. The report will include details of the candidate’s competencies, unique qualities, strengths, weaknesses, and position fit. The consultant will also attach copies of the candidate’s profiles or resumes to accompany the report.

 Candidates Presentation

 The search firm presents candidates as agreed during the initial engagement meetings in terms of the number of candidates and the timelines. The search firm gives the client an opportunity to narrow down on the shortlist and give feedback on the quality of the shortlist. Should the client approve of the shortlist the consultant will schedule the client interviews.

 Client Interviews Scheduling

Based on the initial engagement terms, the search firm will often assist the client in scheduling for interviews and candidate correspondence. Before settling for the final candidate, the shortlisted candidates will undergo several levels of interviews. Often, the last one or two candidates will take psychometric tests. These tests offer accurate assessments of the candidates as well as mitigate any process bias.

Conducting Reference checks

The consultant conducts reference checks on the final candidate. The recruitment firm uses different methods of reference checking also referred to as background checks which include the contacts provided by the candidate as well as other third parties. The team makes every effort to ensure discretion and confidentiality. To verify academic and employment credentials a search consultant may seek the services of a third-party firm.

 Extending the Offer

The search consultant works closely with the client to extend the offer to the final candidate. Having interacted more closely with the candidate they are able to offer insights into what an exciting offer would look like. They are also able to persuade that candidate to accept the offer by selling their client as an employer of choice.

Completing the search

The process comes to an end when the candidate accepts the offer. The consultant will provide a final process report. It is important to regularly follow up with the client and the candidate placed even after completion of the process. This is to find out the progress of the transition and how well the executive is adapting to the new role.

It is important to note that a lot of things come up during the recruitment process. Hence, it is important to constantly communicate with the client and give feedback. This helps to relay possible challenges, delays, or market insights. It is also useful in managing client expectations.

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