A businessman stands in front of a window looking at a high rise building
Businesses are struggling to find the right C-Suite candidates

I was speaking with a friend and they mentioned that for C- level hires (Senior Directors and above), companies only get the correct fit 20% of the time. That is an astonishing figure. But what might be behind it and what can we do to remedy that situation?

A little research reveals that there is a real issue around leaders who possess the technical knowledge needed for the role they have.

There is definitely mismanagement going on within the search process.

There also seems to be a correlating between unpreparedness and the frequency of roles, meaning that those who have not moved around a lot and have not experienced the job market as much are less likely to have up-to-date training.

What appears to be happening is that C-Suite executives who are the perfect fit for the position are ill-prepared at interview leaving those who are prepared but technically inexperienced to fill the roles.

On the flipside, recruiters must ask the right questions during those interviews. Asking what a candidates greatest weakness is, can give a one dimensional impression of them. Questions along the lines of ‘How have you improved XYZ?’ or ‘How do you deal with conflict?’ will help to understand how their mind works and what interpersonal skills they bring to the table.

There are many different routes to the positions they have attained. A candidate that looks good on paper is a great start but their resume must be interrogated. There is no shame in exposing their flaws because that gives a fuller picture of the individual. One should also never be intimidated by someone with an impressive CV. At the end of the day, they need to fit in with the long-term future of the company and spending time doing this kind of work, saves time in the end.

From a recruiter point of view, some of the big mistakes prospects make are a lack of understanding of what the relationship between recruiter and candidate should entail, too much ego and a lack of strategy on the part of the C-level exec.

Candidates who are perfect for these types of roles misunderstand that their interactions with a recruiter at this level should be about relationship development not merely transaction. Rudeness is also not tolerated. Instead of picking up and dropping their recruiter, they should endeavour to build the relationship for the future, especially as a ’job for life’ is a distant memory in this new business world.

Operating at the highest levels within a business, these candidates will be used to getting their own way, being praised and expecting things to happen when they demand it. That attitude will have served them well within the business but when looking for a new job, these attitudes can inhibit any further successful progression.

Humanity and humility are so important. In order to stand out from the many candidates also vying for the job, they must be willing to show that they can accept coaching and advice, that they will take on some extra training if they need to. Recruiters will always remember discourteous candidates and if they do not actively engage, they will be forgotten.

Finally, one can get nowhere without strategy. The candidate often believes that they are the buyer, interviewing the company, rather than the seller, pitching what they have to offer to the company. Every way the C-suite exec interacts with a recruiter or company, be it via Linkedin, the story they tell on the phone, their resume, must all match up and demonstrate a unique position which is also consistent.

Both sides must define their strategy and, slowly but surely, that number will rise from 20% to 100%.

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