A Step-By-Step Look at the Executive Search Process

A Step-By-Step Look at the Executive Search Process

How executive search can generate a multifaceted CFO, clarity recruitment.

When you set out to find a financial executive for your company, like any other business decision, you should make sure you have a sound strategy in place. That means using the expertise of an executive search firm and leveraging their tools to and find the best candidates for the job.

One executive search recruiter outlined how an executive search is done and the strategy involved.

Executive Search 101: Back to Basics

Source: huntscanlon.com

The executive search firm sets out by meeting with the hiring executive and relevant stakeholders to discuss the requirements for the role. The meetings often include board members, members of the senior executive team, peers and subordinates. “These meetings enable the search firm to gather important information about the requirements of the role,” said Ms. Bradford. “More importantly, the search partner witnesses first-hand the management style and corporate culture, which are essential to understanding what makes someone successful at the company.”

Creating Position and Candidate Specification

The search firm then drafts a description of the position, detailing its reporting relationships, responsibilities and objectives. The candidate specification details core competencies, preferred experience and soft skills — the personal qualities that are sought in the ideal candidate.

“The document serves as a touchstone, defining all the requirements of the role, preventing searches from veering off course,” Ms. Bradford said. “Once the client approves the document, it is used as a marketing tool with candidates.”

Setting Research Strategy

The search team develops a strategy targeting companies most likely to yield a successful candidate, including the initial list of target companies. “The strategy considers the level and scope of comparable roles as well as other key data points: office location, corporate culture and each company’s ranking,” said Ms. Bradford. “Companies that are off-limits are also delineated — companies out of which the firm will not recruit due to sensitive client relationships or because the firm has client blockage.”

She also said that using the strategy as a blueprint, the search team conducts original research to identify and profile idea candidates, mapping the reporting relationships and often building out org charts of target teams. “Traditional search firms usually do most of the research online,” Ms. Bradford said. “The search firm will also query its own candidate database, proprietary information services and social networks such as LinkedIn to yield prospective candidates.”

Querying Sources & Qualifying Prospects

Search firms sound their network of sources for candidate referrals and calibrations. Sources include journalists, professional associations and other relevant groups. Prospects that meet the requirements of the role are added to the initial list of prospects.

“The search team contacts prospective candidates to determine whether they meet the primary requirements of the role and gathers details on the candidate’s motivations — what it would take for that candidate to make a move to a new company,” said Ms. Bradford. “The search team reviews the list of qualified, interested prospects to determine whether more research is necessary or whether it is time to schedule in-depth interviews.”

Writing Candidate Profile & Interviewing Prospects

The search consultant interviews and evaluates top prospective candidates in a deep-dive interview that steps through the career history. “The executive search partner evaluates the candidate against the candidate specification through in-depth, in-person or video-conference interviews,” Ms. Bradford said. “Taking great care not to jeopardize candidate confidentiality, search firms pre-reference candidates whenever possible to verify past performance and essential soft skills. Those who are not a fit are closed out.”

“For those candidates the search firm presents to the client, they prepare a written candidate profile, a report that details the candidate’s education, career history, honors and awards as well as an analysis and appraisal of the candidate strengths and weaknesses and appropriateness for the position,” she said. “The report also highlights any key motivators, issues, and deal-making details essential to closing the candidate.”

Presenting Candidates & Scheduling Client Interviews

The search firm presents candidates at regular progress meetings. “Working closely with the client, the list is refined to a slate of three to six strong contenders for the client to meet,” Ms. Bradford said. “Client-candidate meetings are then scheduled. Client interviews of the candidates scheduled to winnow selection down the two or three finalists. Those that are eliminated are closed out.”

Checking References

The search team checks the candidate’s references, contacting the contacts provided by the candidate as well as other sources available to the firm. “The team makes every effort to ensure discretion and confidentiality,” said Ms. Bradford. “Verification of employment and academic credentials is often performed by third-party services. It is the consultant’s responsibility to ensure that such checks have been conducted.”

Extending the Offer & Closing the Search

When a final candidate is selected, the search consultant works closely with the client and candidate to position the offer with the candidate, and to negotiate a package that is agreeable to both parties. “The search team closes the candidate when the executive accepts the offer, agreeing to join the company,” Ms. Bradford said. “The search firm then closes out the engagement by thanking those involved for a successful outcome.”

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Executive Search Strategy

When your company partners with an executive search firm, it’s important that you know about their unique executive search strategy so you can move forward with confidence.

At Clarity Recruitment, we go beyond the job description. We use predictive technology to match skills, strengths and motivations of the best candidates to your unique situation.Learn more about our proven approach to executive search recruiting.


Clarity is a recruitment agency specializing in the placement of designated Accountants and Finance professionals in the GTA and Vancouver. Our mission is to improve decision-making in hiring by investing in behavioural science and hiring technology. We specialize in Project & Interim Resourcing, Permanent Search and Executive Search and recruit Finance and Accounting Executives for growth companies. We are a tenured team of successful recruiters who have worked in the major industries across Toronto and Vancouver. info@findingclarity.ca.

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