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Common Questions and Answers


Recruitment vs Executive search?

It’s difficult for the clients to understand the difference between the recruitment, executive search, and headhunting, as the result looks the same - you hire a candidate that was introduced by the service provider. But, the devil is in the details.

Please find the full details of how executive search process works in our blog post.

How valuable your time is?

How to choose the right provider?

- Learn about the relevant skills, personal network, and experience of the individual consultant working directly with you on your placement. Focus on integrity, track record, ability to discuss and expertise on your project. Try to uncover what they learned from the past and how they will bring those insights to your particular search as a result.

- There’s a chance that you haven’t thought of everything involved in the search process. Trust recruiter’s expertise if he or she asks you for additional details, be as forthcoming as possible. This type of knowledge will help your consultant to be more productive and committed and perform to your high expectations. The better they understand the unique requirements of the position, the more likely we will help you find an excellent match.

- Ask how a firm handles the research stage, some outsource it to external providers or a team of junior associates. Who will make the first contact with potential candidates and conduct the interviews?

- Don’t hold anything back. Advise the search firm of what must be kept strictly confidential. Make sure your partner understands the importance of confidentiality to your organisation. Ask them how they intend to maintain it while approaching potential candidates. Check if your provider will be meeting with candidates face-to-face, over the phone, or other communication platforms.

- Importantly, you should determine the quality and depth of detail you can expect from each deliverable. Don’t assume that your idea of a report matches the consultant’s view. Specify if you would prefer them to use competency-based tests, behavioral assessments, or share any proprietary methods for assessing candidate skills with your consultant.

- A good practice is to treat your consultant as a partner and share the profiles of the internal candidates for the role together with the stop-list and names of external candidates you've considered previously to ensure an open and comprehensive evaluation process. Leverage on their experience and max the use what you have paid for!

Before the search review the details of engagement letter including the scope of services, timetable, fees, expenses, cancellation policy, and any restrictions or off-limit situations. Agree on search strategy, including target companies, candidate strategies, and diversity goals. As you discuss timelines, ensure there are tangible milestones that you can look for along the way. Setting these expectations up front will prevent surprises later on.

Retain the consultant exclusively and be prepared to treat them as a partner. Don’t select based on the level of fees - the lowest cost advisor is not likely the one who will deliver the highest value.

What is the daily cost to your business of not getting the right hire?

How to make the search & selection process a success?

Ultimately, your goal is to find a qualified candidate, but hire isn’t the only deliverable your executive search firm will provide. Other examples of deliverables may include a review of the job description, candidate evaluations, and status reports.

  • Evaluate candidates against the agreed specification—it’s the cornerstone of the search. Be prepared to refine if advised by the search firm.

  • It’s possible that the details of your search will change – whether it’s location, salary, or other key factors. Changing the search criteria mid-process can result in lost momentum. By being transparent up-front and understanding to what extent you can shift expectations during the search, you will be better equipped to manage the process.

  • Respond quickly concerning your level of interest in presented candidates. An inefficient or strung out selection process reflects poorly on you. Schedule interviews promptly. 

  • Facilitate direct dialogue about candidates between the search firm and hiring manager/decision makers, and deepen their sense of partnership.

  • Expect that the search firm’s evaluation reports should describe the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. You are paying for consultancy— demand it.

  • Communicate the key challenges of the job and ensure that the interviewing team is in agreement. Treat the interviews like a client presentation—just as much may be at stake.

  • Remember that short-listed executives are not applicants but candidates. Treat them courteously and respect their tight schedules. They may have reservations about the job and your organisation. Now it’s your turn to “sell” the candidate on your firm and the importance of the position.

  • Balance buying and selling. Use candidate interviews to initiate two-way conversations. Don’t forget that both parties need to be happy about the fit to work. Unhappy is the candidate who finds that critical information was withheld during the interview.

  • Provide timely, meaningful, and comprehensive feedback to the search firm so that they know how to proceed. Run the recruitment process like a project with a beginning, middle, and an end, and with a team of essential players. 

  • Agree with the search firm who will check which performance references. Hiring managers should always take selective references.


Use the search consultant to test ideas, establish limits, reinforce messages, and serve as an “honest broker” when negotiating the ultimate package. Don’t delay— the time is of the essence in securing a favored candidate. Don’t engage in a bureaucracy that could kill the deal. Draft the offer letter for review by the search firm and discuss with the candidate before sending the final copy for signature. The last hurdle is as crucial as the first. 

Once an offer is accepted, work closely with the search firm to ensure the transition to the new position. Our research shows that candidates want more assistance with on-boarding than clients realize—the search firm can provide valuable support in this critical transition. Agree a mutually beneficial schedule of follow up and feedback. The consultant should be leveraged as a useful source of advice and guidance for both sides during the first months of a new appointment.

Would you work with such a partner?

Is your provider AESC Certified?

Our firm went through a rigorous check to become a member of the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants in years 2016-2017.

We have decided not to extend it afterward, as for a boutique firm like ours, it doesn’t add value. However, we still follow the best practices after this stamp of approval from AESC.