What executive interview questions do companies often overlook?
Companies often ask us to assist in building entire teams. We are always happy to help, and we would like to share some advice that leads to better, strategic long term positioning of a team.
Whether we are forging a path for a company to find their first executives, helping to scale a post-series A startup, or assisting an established company by headhunting strategic hires, we frequently see one common pitfall when it comes to hiring: leaders, at all levels, tend to gravitate toward candidates that think the same way they do.
People are social creatures, and we like to enjoy the camaraderie of working with people we would naturally befriend. Therefore, it is very easy to tend towards using agreeableness as a criteria and construct a team that is reticent to rock the boat.
So what do the top companies do to combat this problem? They ask one of my favorite questions when we recruit executives: “When building a team, how heavily do you focus on evaluating diversity of thought and cultural fit and how do you go about assessing whether they are a fit?” This question goes beyond the basic bar of skill – a requirement anyway – and it tells me what type of community and culture this leader would ultimately realize when creating a team. The culture is primarily directed, changed, improved, or destroyed by a leader. And this impacts potential future hires and, more importantly, retention. Therefore, figuring out how people will be hired is an important framework to create success during the hiring process. This also tells me which key attributes this individual will prioritize when they hire their team. Since this community will groom the company’s future leaders, and since a functional team of diverse talent can positively impact a company’s bottom line, this information is invaluable in understanding how this individual will position themselves in the overall roadmap of building or fostering a successful company.
When people ask us to help build entire teams or make key hires, they give us the great responsibility of building a sustainable and successful part of the company. And helping a company put their best foot forward is something we’re very passionate about.