Evaluating an Executive Search Company: 6 Questions to Ask

Apr 03, 2018

When you do a Google search for the term “headhunter UK”, you’ll get something like 2 280 000 results back.

When you’re searching for the right company to bag your next top talent, that’s a lot of choice...

And with so much choice, how do you select the right executive search company to source the best candidates for your business?

The next six questions are a good starting point:

#1: Is the executive search company well established?

Jefferson Maguire have been in business since 1998, so you know they are stable, won’t take your money and run, and if they’ve stayed in business for all this time, it's more likely they are providing satisfactory services to their clients.

In addition, a company that’s been around a while will have more knowledge and experience, and that benefits your business.

#2: Do they understand your business?

It's always a good idea to go for the executive search company that specialises in your niche, because then there is a stronger probability of them finding the best people.

A quick example as to the relevance of this point:

Jack, a high quality potential candidate, goes for an interview with a recruitment consultant about a possible position at an advertising agency. Very soon, he can see that the consultant does not have any understanding about the industry. What is likely to happen as a result, is that the consultant fails to include the relevant information about the candidate, and then the company rejects the candidate who would have been ideal, but who the consultant failed to portray correctly.

On the other side is Virgin Cosmetics, who came to us to source a Brand Communications Director.

Because we understand their business, we sourced quality candidates that would fit the culture of the company. Once they had selected the right candidate, the MD of Virgin Cosmetics reported that Jefferson Maguire “really got behind the company ethos and personalities to provide us with a candidate who would not only be able to do the job but would also be able to fit in and add to the culture of the company”.

#3: What are their processes like?

You will want to know what their approach is when working with you, as well as how they go about selecting candidates.

It’s always preferable to select a company that is organised and has firm steps in place, as that avoids issues and unmatched expectations.

What are the steps they’ll take to understand your company’s needs, assess potential candidates, and so on?

How will they communicate with you, and how often?

#4: Are their consultants trained in the art of recruiting?

Many recruitment companies have a high staff turnover, so they don’t bother training their consultants.This is a mistake, because the majority of candidates lie, and the consultant needs to be able to pick that up.

In addition, the consultant themself needs to be an A player in order to find other A players for your team.

Added to that - the consultant needs to be able to read between the lines, without focusing solely on what may prove to be “red tape” credentials.

For example, an inexperienced, non-trained consultant may train their eye on finding someone with a degree, but many times, a degree does not guarantee top performance, and as a result, your business misses out on some excellent candidates who are tossed in the trash simply because their paperwork does not align with what the consultant (not you) is looking for.

There’s something else: if you’re after an A player, but the headhunter is not trained in the art of “seducing” the person, how will he or she persuade the person to leave their current place of employment in order to join your team?

#5: What is the salary range for most of the candidates you place?

The answer to this question should give you a solid idea of the headhunter’s expertise - the higher their average salary range, the more experience they are likely to have with finding top talent.

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