We just wrapped up a marketing executive search with an extraordinary client. What made the experience so positive was they understood the value of hiring top talent and put a process in place that enabled the best possible result. Fundamentally they made hiring top talent their number one priority when it came to their calendars. Good company with a great culture, but unknown from a brand perspective. In the end based on their interview process every candidate we presented, all of whom were happily employed, wanted the role. This typically does not happen, even for top brands.
If you are putting talent first, then how do you communicate that to candidates during the interview process? If you claim you are focused on diligent but fast decision making, what example are you setting based on your interview process? As a culture they put their team first, which is easy to say but how do you demonstrate that during the interview process?
By putting the candidate first and realizing they are employed so if you want top talent and they do not want their current employer to know they are considering other options, you need to work around the candidate’s calendar. For C-suite executives with packed calendars this is not easy, but what is more important than having a great senior leadership team?
Our clients leadership team on this search is a very smart and humble, this approach allowed them to pick from multiple very talented individuals for their first true Chief Marketing Officer. They were humble enough to understand they were going to have to move their existing calendar if they wanted to be able to get the best possible talent in the shortest possible period of time.
Client is approximately a $ 120 million company who really believes they can become a billion-dollar enterprise. We went through our very normal and thorough vetting process of taking seventy-five plus candidates through our first-round interview focused on marketing chops and twenty-five plus through our second round focused on leadership and culture fit to present them with the top six. After they completed their interview process, they had three candidates any one of whom they would have made an offer to and ultimately, we successfully hired their number one choice.
Our process was standard, their process was exceptional and effective. Upon MarketPro presenting a candidate the human resources team scheduled all five interviews they were conducting immediately and making sure all were completed in less than two weeks. If at any point in time in the process our client (or the candidate) decided not to move forward, we simply cancelled the remaining interviews.
Round one was with the CEO (hiring manager), which is important that the first interaction a passive candidate has is with the person they will be reporting to. Too often we see organizations leave the CEO to the last interview when hiring a Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Digital Officer, Chief Product Officer or Chief Communications Officer. Putting the CEO first or last sends a real message to the candidate about how important the role is to the company. Many times, when the CEO is last on the interview slate a candidate or two will walk away before they ever get to the CEO interview.
Round two was a panel interview with two other peers who directly report to the CEO. Notice again we are dedicating senior leadership time to the most important activity of a company, hiring A players and by doing so early in the process sending a very positive message to the candidates.
Round three was with Chief Human Resources Officer and another member of her team to focus on culture fit. A lot of organizations will make the first-round interview with the human resources team. Which is understandable as that is the process if the human resources team is doing the recruiting and vetting. However, when partnering with the leading marketing executive search firm and we have already done all the recruiting and vetting, it is important to adjust that process and get the short list of candidates engaged with their potential future hiring manager and senior leadership as soon as possible. After two deep dive interviews with our team to then go to a human resources interview is not a good candidate experience.
Round four was with two members of the marketing team who will be reporting to the new hire. Generally, I do not recommend letting future direct reports interview their next potential manager. In most organizations it is difficult to align expectations and goals of senior leadership and their vision for the future of marketing with direct reports who are looking at marketing through the lens of what has always been. It is even more difficult to take away the voice of these interviewers after you have invited them to the process. So, if you choose to allow this it is very important to set proper expectations with your internal team.
Round five was a presentation. In addition to scheduling this when they scheduled the first interview, the CEO offered each candidate thirty minutes after round four for them to speak with him so he could set expectations and help them prepare for the presentation.
Presentations are a powerful part of the interview process when done properly and potentially a turn off to candidates when done the wrong way.
In the end, the CEO gave 2 ½ hours of his time for every candidate we presented or a total of 15 hours. Now he has the CMO who is going to drive growth, what a great return on his time investment.