Today’s recruitment market is competitive and challenging. Employee attrition remains high and many companies are struggling to retain and attract talent. To help, members of our Executive Search Practice shared their six top tips for companies looking to stand out from the crowd in “Hiring talent in today’s world – remember it’s a courtship”.

Building on their advice, Warren Pfotenhauer, Research Director in BIE’s Executive Search Practice, weighs in on how to run a successful and streamlined search process – a necessity in ‘normal’ situations, and utterly vital today.

What determines whether a search will be successful? It’s not luck, or even deep pockets. All things being equal, it comes down to how a search is prepared for and executed.

Take two clients – they’re of equal size and complexity, and they’re looking to start a search process for the same skills at the same price point. Why is it that one client will successfully conclude weeks, if not months, before the other?

Working in executive search for over 15 years, I can say that much of it comes down to a few missteps that make the process more time-consuming and complex than it needs to be. Right now, the marketplace is making things hard enough – why make it harder on yourself?

If you’ve established that a standard search process is the best way to source the talent you require, then these tips should help you achieve your aims.

1. Get internal sign-off and an approved budget

It’s not enough to know a hire is necessary, you need to lay the groundwork to actually initiate the search process. You’d be surprised at how many times we see a client stress the urgency of a hire, only to be told, after a week or two of radio silence, that there’s no budget and no internal sign-off, and the project stalls.

Remember – before you run, you walk, and before you walk, you put your shoes on. You need to be ready to begin the process before actually beginning it, so ensure you have approval from your key stakeholders, and the resources you need.

2. Conduct a thorough briefing

Bring together line managers, key stakeholders and your appointed search firm for a clear and comprehensive briefing. You want to outline the expectations regarding communication and milestones right from the start, as well as any necessary assessments or checks that might be required.

It’s also helpful to outline the desired interview process at this stage. Typically, we’d suggest a two-stage process, but sometimes it’s necessary to opt for three or four, depending on the seniority assessments that may be needed to supplement the client’s decision-making process. In short: get everyone on the same page.

Bonus tip: if you can, agree on preliminary dates for interviews and updates during this briefing meeting. It will save you time further down the line, and provide much-needed visibility and accountability on the pace of the process. Candidates also respond positively to a well-planned process.

3. Take time to craft the candidate experience

A smooth, professional interview process is a great calling card for your business, and one which will ultimately help you stand out. In today’s market, candidates will most likely be applying for multiple roles so they will have other companies and processes for comparison. Get the fundamentals right – for example, communicate well and provide candidates with any necessary information (login details, interview locations, etc.) promptly and efficiently – and you’ll be a step ahead.

4. Offer timely and informative feedback

Giving feedback is one of the biggest differentiators in any search process and it will have a significant impact on the kind of positive candidate experience you want to create.

If your decision-makers collaborate quickly, provide constructive feedback and make swift decisions after interviews, then your company will make a great impression on the candidates involved. However, if you set a bad tone by being uncommunicative or letting the process linger on for weeks, or even months, your odds of success will dwindle.

What’s more, you’ll risk sending candidates back into the market with negative impressions of your company – not good for employer branding, or for your next foray into the broader talent pool.

5. Consult your search partners before making an offer

Your search partners are there to help, and in this particular area they are the experts. They know the current market trends, related salaries and what’s expected in this particular field. Use them and maximise your chances of getting your chosen candidate.

After all, if you’ve gone to the trouble of running the hiring process and interviewing and assessing candidates, you don’t want to risk it all by making an unsuitable offer. Check in with your search partners and come up with an offer you are comfortable with – and that won’t low-ball them. Yes, negotiation is possible, but it’s a client’s market right now, so try to put your best foot forward at this point. Show that you’re keen and willing to do what it takes to secure the candidate.

6. Keep lines of communication open with your new hire

So you’ve made a compelling offer and had it agreed, now what? Your new hire may not start working for several months, but those months shouldn’t slip by without contact.

This time is an opportunity to lay good foundations for your working relationship. Remain in contact with them and keep those lines of communication open. Consider asking them to lunch, or setting up a video call with key stakeholders. Do what you can to maintain engagement (lightly and professionally), and help foster a positive opinion of the company they’re about to join.


Today’s talent market may be competitive, but your ideal candidate is out there – and by streamlining your hiring process, you boost your chances of securing them.

For more advice and guidance on running a successful hiring process, feel free to reach out to our team.

Written by

Warren Pfotenhauer
As the Research Director at BIE, Warren works predominantly within HR search to identify and engage with top talent and support searches across the business whilst collaborating with other functional expertise areas.
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