What Should You Consider when Hiring Executives?

No business can afford to make a mistake when hiring executives, yet it is still all too common.  One of the most common mistakes is using the wrong standards to gauge the quality and fit of potential executives. However, by knowing what to look for from the get-go, you should be able to facilitate the screening process and find an executive that will help you reach your objectives. Here are four things you should consider when hiring executives.

Functional Expertise

The most important factor when choosing an executive is their functional expertise in the area where you need them to work. Whether this is information technology, Human Resources, accounting, operations, marketing or something else, they must have a thorough understanding of the issue and demonstratable expertise managing people in this area.

An excellent accountant may be a good candidate for handling the business’ tax returns, but that doesn’t mean they are capable of managing 20 people. You also have to look at their ability to handle your business’s complexity. Can someone who ran a 20-person firm quickly take over a 200-person organization? And this is especially important if you have future plans for expansion.

Strong Leadership Skills

While someone may have the functional expertise in the area you’re hiring for, you also need someone with strong leadership skills. Are they able to build strong teams? Do they cultivate internal leaders and create the type of corporate culture you want in your own organization? Can they lead a business or department in a new direction? Do they manage the metrics and mandate the same from their subordinates?


Another factor to consider is how their vision, purpose, and beliefs align with your business. Do they have a clear vision, and does it align with yours?

You can avoid mistakes in this area when you work with recruiting agencies who are aligned with your purpose and goals. If you’re a purpose-driven business, you can’t simply look for executives based on their credentials. Executive recruiters like Y Scouts, for instance, are specialized in finding talent for mission-driven organizations and can help you find candidates with the right set of values and qualifications. They’ll also ensure that any executives you interview have the leadership style you want in your organization.

You can also prevent problems by hiring specialists, and not look for superstar candidates. Find someone who is capable and willing to fill the role you’re filling instead of someone who may use that job to leapfrog to something they consider better. Also, ask what their career path and long-term objectives are.

Their Ability to Collaborate

Another matter you need to research is their ability to collaborate. Can they work well with other department heads, the CEO, and their subordinates? This is all the more important if you have projects and initiatives that involve outsiders. Can they collaborate with your customers to find solutions? Do they have the collaboration skills to handle joint ventures? You can check this by thoroughly vetting their references, as well as those they’ve worked with in the past.


The process of interviewing and selecting an executive is significantly different from hiring for roles lower down on the organizational chart. And you can’t afford to make a mistake. Choose wisely based on the criteria that truly matter.