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Adam Hillier

Adam Hillier



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Developing leaders Strengthening Leadership Capability by Rachel Gascoigne
Maximise Opportunities How to Maximise the Chance of a Successful Hire by Adam Hillier

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How to Maximise the Chance of a Successful Hire

Over the past decade I have met many leaders across diverse industries who have sometimes failed to make successful senior level appointments. According to recent research, nearly 90% of firms estimate that between 10% and 25% of new employees leave within the first six months. Whilst it is perhaps not realistic to remove all risks associated with a hire, following a proven selection methodology which combines both the creative and the scientific can certainly minimise the chances of error. There are four key areas to address:

1. Allow the Search firm access to the business

Select a reputable and credible head-hunting partner who can become an extension of your business, and invite them in. By spending time in the organisation, the Search professional can tune-into your needs and provide constructive input. They can help formulate the Job Description and candidate specification based on their experience of what works within that particular sector and/or specialism, and what is available in the market. At Wickland Westcott we use trained occupational psychologists from within our leadership consultancy to offer a more granular and scientific approach at the front end of selection processes.

Given the confidential nature of many senior assignments it may not be possible to include all internal stakeholders, but where access can be arranged it enables the Search consultant to obtain the information and cultural insight they need to approach the market with authenticity, passion and enthusiasm.  This personal, tailored service is required to really pique the interest of the very best candidates.

2. Employ a consistent, robust assessment process

A well-tooled assessment process greatly improves the accuracy of selection decisions. With the cost of mis-hires estimated to be as much as 15 times annual salary for leadership positions, the cost-benefit of adding rigour to the process is very compelling. At Wickland Westcott we use a job-relevant leadership framework for interviewing and reference checking, coupled with psychometric questionnaires as the basis for our assessments. Whilst less than 20% of companies currently use personality tests in the hiring process, this number is increasing at 10-15% per year as organisations realise the importance of cultural fit and greater candidate understanding.

The results of our assessments are fed back to the client prior to shortlist interviews, supplemented by suggestions on areas to probe from trained occupational psychologists. When these results are evaluated in conjunction with other candidate data, this combined insight allows the client to commence final interviews on a more progressive footing, leading to a better dialogue and deeper mutual understanding.

3. Build a process which balances rigour and speed

Speed is crucial in a selection process. But so too is rigour, and a thorough assessment process can be both slick and efficient, demonstrating to candidates how seriously your organisation approaches talent acquisition and management. Timelines should be agreed upfront - it is paramount to maintain continuity and capitalise on candidates’ positive sentiment and excitement by moving at pace. A key part of this momentum is booking time into the diaries of the internal stakeholders who will meet the short-listed candidate(s). If meetings are postponed, and the process allowed to drag, candidate interest can wane.

4. Have a clear on-boarding strategy

The on-boarding of senior executives is an often-neglected opportunity. There can be an underlying assumption that, given the seniority of the individual being appointed, he/she will hit the ground running. However, the reality is that most organisations are complex to navigate, and operating in markets that are volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. The new hire often parachutes into this environment, and the clock starts ticking the moment they hit the ground.  Why not provide them with early support to maximise the chances of success?

At Wickland Westcott, we offer new hires three months integration coaching to ensure they are able to land smoothly. By offering the appointee this objective external support, along with a three-way dialogue with their new boss, any underlying concerns or problems can be surfaced early and addressed in an expedient and professional manner.


Following these simple steps maximises the chances of a successful hire. Executive search should never be a transactional process, but rather a tailored, personal service that meets the needs of both the recruiting organisation and the candidate. Employing a clear recruitment strategy and investing in an end-to-end solution which balances the creative and the scientific greatly improves the chances of making a game-changing appointment.

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