A Better Experience Hiring Executive Candidates

Jun 23, 2020

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, hiring executive level candidates has continued at a solid pace.  At ON Partners we’ve seen organizations adapting well to recruiting in a remote, virtual environment: video interviews have become the new norm; additional assessments, deeper reference checking and a renewed emphasis on onboarding are facets of the hiring process embedded in today’s new recruitment landscape.

While the hiring organization goes to great lengths to determine the best new executive hire fit, absent traditional meetings and interviews, an equally important focus and differentiator is to deliver a better candidate experience throughout the hiring journey.

Over the last few months, we’ve compiled best practices executed by our community of clients and executive search consultants to ensure a better overall executive candidate experience in today’s remote hiring environment.


Download Candidate Experience Guide


01: Over communicating is key


“Normal interview processes are traditionally very “chunky,” where you may meet with five to eight people in a single day,” explains Joe Olson, ON Partners vice president. “The most important thing right now is to over communicate, creating a high-touch interaction.  Now, one-off calls are becoming the norm and are often being scheduled all over the calendar – which is even more challenging for a candidate who is already working full time.”

Where we have seen success is when companies vary the approach, with video or voice calls, and most importantly, consider the flow for the candidate, mindful not to increase process fatigue or interview fatigue.



02: Personally connect


Interview time should also be used to convey cultural norms and reinforce the company’s employment brand—what’s the employment value proposition?  Why join?  Why do people stay? These points are often much easier made when the interaction is in-person and a candidate is touring around a slick office environment.  Until onsite visits can once again become commonplace, we are now seeing organizations leverage videos of virtual office or plant tours and “cultural storytelling” from the voice of current team members.

A hallmark of high touch and personal connection occurred pre-pandemic with the CEO of one of our clients. Instead of requiring candidates for a critical CTO hire to come to him, the CEO flew to interview the final two candidates over lunch.  Candidates were extremely impressed—it showed the importance of the hire and the value placed on the candidates’ time.

Applying this concept of personalization and commitment to today’s current remote environment, we worked with a CEO client who invited the final CIO candidate to his home for social distancing cocktails on his back deck so they could get to know one another better.  Both living in the same city made this initiative easy.



03: Thoughtful actions to seal the deal


Geoff Smart and Randy Street aptly describe candidate desires in their NY Times Bestseller book, Who:  candidates care most about fit, family, freedom, financial security and fun.  Selling the whole package to a candidate today requires companies to be more intentional and empathetic with their actions. While it goes without saying that a candidate needs to see how his or her goals and values align with the role, company mission and vision, often companies forget how to acknowledge and incorporate the family.

In the days before COVID-19, standout companies would invite a candidate and spouse for dinner to meet fellow peers or management.  Likewise inviting family to tour a city in the relocation process or decision-making made all the difference in an accepted offer.

ON director Sean Cantarella describes a similar, but pandemically-modified approach. “Early on in the pandemic, our candidate drove from Idaho to Austin to start his job.  During offer negotiations, they agreed to pay a certain amount for temporary housing as his family would remain behind in Idaho until it was safer to make the trip down to Austin.”

It is crucial to set the expectation early in the hiring process that a candidate might not be able to travel onsite before making a decision on a role, and to then check in throughout the process. Also, encouraging a candidate to reach out to other people in an organization to whom they might be connected can help them get an inside look to make the situation more comfortable and provide a less biased viewpoint.



04: The experience continues after the offer


Continuing to sell the opportunity and the candidate beyond the interview and offer will always be paramount to success. During turbulent times of uncertainty and ambiguity caused by the current pandemic, companies must not forget critical selling moments: from the reflection period of offer extension to offer acceptance, to the period between candidate acceptance and candidate start and finally, the first 90 days on the job.

A robust, personalized candidate experience will create better outcomes for executive job candidates and make the hiring process as smooth and as effective as possible. For further advice and recommendations to integrate, assimilate and launch your new hire, download the ON Partners ONboarding Experience Guide.


Download ONboarding Experience Guide

 To help you navigate the new normal of the pandemic, the ON Partners team has assembled information like this article in our ON Covid-19 Resource Center on a variety of topics for our community – from how to conduct interviews and onboard virtually to predictions on how various industry sectors will change to how our clients are taking action.





ON Partners propels an organization’s mission by building C-level and board leadership teams. Founded in 2006 by like-minded consultants as a values-driven alternative to the multi-service global firms they were leaving behind, ON delivers a better executive search experience. Named by Forbes as one of America’s Best Executive Recruiting Firms and to the Inc. 500/5000 Lists six times, the firm is consistently ranked among the top 20 retained executive search firms in the U.S.  For more information on how we are ensuring a better experience for candidates, see our results here.

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Find our related successful placements of leading executives here.


About ON Partners

Since 2006, ON Partners is the only pure-play executive search firm building diverse C-level and board leadership teams. We rebuilt the institution of executive search for the way you work. Our approach includes present partners who engage with their clients from the first brief to the final decision, individually crafted solutions that are unique to each client, and an easier experience all around. Named by Forbes as one of America’s Best Executive Recruiting Firms and to the Inc. 500/5000 Lists nine times, ON Partners is consistently ranked among the top 20 retained executive search firms in the U.S.

Untraditional by Choice. Original by Design. Since 2006.


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