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by Debby Millhouse

Like it or not, many recruiters and HR managers are put off by a long, drawn-out hiring process, especially at the executive level. The pervading idea is that a company needs leadership at its helm and that a power vacuum cannot be tolerated for any extended period of time if the company intends to remain in the black.

A recent study by Dr. Bradford Smart, however, found that the average cost of hiring a CEO or other C-level executive who eventually left, was fired or replaced, or failed to meet expectations was more than 24 times that hire’s base salary.

That’s amazing considering that the average base salary among such executives is $114,000 annually. If you’d like to do some math with me, that equates to a $2,736,000 loss in just one year. Compare that to an estimated cost to hire of $43,000 per executive. Spending time finding the right executive makes sense and saves dollars.

Your hiring process needs to be meticulous and thorough. Remember, this person will be leading your company in a new direction. They must have qualifications, vision and leadership abilities. Top-down and bottom-up buy-in will be crucial to the success of this new hire.

  • Review applications and referrals thoroughly. Eliminate applicants who do not meet your standards immediately, without an interview. If this means eliminating all applicants, do so and begin your search anew.
  • Your interview process should be two-tiered
    • Tier One: Based upon application package/recruiting report and referrals.
    • Tier Two: The best of the best of Tier One. Always re-interview at least three applicants, even if you’ve fallen in love with one during the first tier of interviews.
  • Do a thorough background check. The last thing you want to do is to fall in love with an applicant who has misrepresented him or herself in a résumé, or who has unresolved black marks on his or her record.
  • DO follow up with referrals. Make sure that these people actually do endorse the hiring of your executive, and that they have good concrete examples of leadership and company advancement.
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