Beyond the Job Description…

As recruiters, we’re tasked with putting together a candidate slate that meets the job description – the education, experience and proven track record for driving results.  No candidate has exactly the right skills for the job or is perfectly qualified.  Often times you’ll surface several candidates with exceptional leadership skills , desired core competencies, a strong personal brand, but are missing the three to five years of related industry experience.  Do you present them on the slate? I believe that filling a senior leadership role requires you to look beyond the job description and assess the candidate’s capabilities and soft skills (including personality, work style, executive presence and thought leadership) to determine if they will be a good fit for your organization.

Assessing Culture Fit

It’s important to consider a candidate’s personality and work style to determine if they would be a good fit with the organization’s culture. What types of executive personalities currently exist in the organization?  What does this candidate bring that is different or provides balance (Ying or Yang!) to the team? What kind of decision-making style is the most successful? Consensus driven or collaborative? Are you looking for someone who has proven success in a matrix environment? Discussing the candidates’ leadership and work styles and their fit with the organization’s culture is a key step in preparing the slate.

Executive Presence and Thought Leadership

Meeting with each candidate will give you a clear view of their executive presence- confidence, poise under pressure and decisiveness. I hate to say it, but “appearance” does matter! Their attention to detail in their attire and grooming reveals a lot about how they will present themselves to the hiring manager, and ultimately within the company. The initial screening interview will give you a view of their ability to communicate with passion and clear and concise language.

Does the candidate have a strong personal brand and demonstrated thought leadership in the field? Can they see patterns and connect the dots in internal processes, organizational effectiveness and workflows? Can they see patterns in disparate information?Are they forward thinking, scanning the marketplace for trends and proactively communicating what’s next?  Have they demonstrated a passion improving processes that impact customer satisfaction? Fill the slate with candidates with demonstrated success and thought leadership to inject energy and diversity into a team.

As a recruiter, its important to partner with the hiring manager to develop a clear understanding of the soft skills that will make a successful candidate, beyond what’s listed in the job description. How do you assess leadership strength and work style when interviewing? What weight do you put on cultural fit?  I look forward to your comments.

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Lisa Bonner

Lisa Bonner is an experienced change agent and Senior Vice President with Roberts Golden Consulting. She helps global Fortune 500 companies solve organizational issues and manage major changes to drive achievement of bold business objectives. Lisa is passionate about football, fitness, decorating and raising twin boys. Connect with Lisa.


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