How to Hire a C-Suite Executive Remotely

executives working remotely

With every executive search, you’re taking a leap of faith—even more so when you’re hiring executives remotely. Talking on the phone or over Zoom just doesn’t give you the same experience as shaking someone’s hand, sitting down with them and interacting in the same setting. In fact, if the past few years have taught us anything about executive search and hiring, it’s that switching to a fully-remote process involves a major level of trust and confidence.

The most successful searches—whether remote or in-person—lean on strong, authentic bonds formed with the leadership team. While this is a task many don’t think is possible in a purely digital setting, the post-pandemic way of work has proved them wrong. It’s more than possible to hire an effective C-suite executive remotely. In fact, it’s becoming a new norm.

The best approach to hiring executives remotely

As the world continues to adjust to a business climate where remote work is the norm, hiring executives without meeting them face-to-face comes with plenty of challenges.

Here are some of the common remote executive recruiting challenges, and how organizations can overcome them to feel good about the process—and, ultimately, the person they hire.

Getting comfortable with virtual

When organizations hire C-level executives, hiring teams often view a 100% virtual hiring process as a hit to their confidence. Many organizations are embracing strong employer branding, as well as more time spent with potential candidates. It gives executive teams ample opportunity to educate potential candidates about the company and culture at every stage of the process, which is critically important when they can’t visit the site and meet face-to-face.

Assessing candidates virtually

Finding a high-performing hire can be challenging when the search process is completely remote. Organizations can de-risk their hire in a remote environment by using structured online assessments to vet candidates. It’s a quick, effective way to gain insight into each candidate’s behavioral attributes, so you can determine whether an individual is the right fit with the company culture. Comprehensive referencing and background checks can also help organizations gain a deep working knowledge about top candidates, to help them avoid unwanted surprises.

Maintaining a personal touch

Connecting on a personal level is challenging in a remote search and hiring environment. There are some unique, effective ways to engage and connect with attractive candidates. Order a meal if you’re meeting with a candidate during lunchtime, and make sure to share virtual office hours with candidates. You could also supply more information about company culture, including some branded swag if you have it. The more a top-tier candidate feels connected to your mission and company culture, the better fit they’ll be.

It’s important to note that these strategies equally apply to executive search firms undertaking the hiring process on behalf of a company client. Since search firms are largely tasked with handling the entire process of hiring executives remotely, organizations need to work with firms that have a strong grip on the digital process and strategies for success.

The benefits of hiring executives remotely

Any company that has previously hired an executive knows that there’s a level of pageantry involved in “wooing” a candidate—especially one that’s in-demand. if that candidate isn’t local, the expenses can really add up. Flying them out to your location, putting them up in a high-end hotel, taking them to expensive differs, etc.—the cost of simply attracting a candidate can be an investment in and of themselves! And, there’s no guarantee they’ll actually come aboard.

Hiring remotely strips away this façade and lets companies pitch their positional vacancies in a factual way. “This is our company. This is the role. These are our expectations.” Companies can get an unadulterated feel for who a candidate is and how they envision themselves in the position, and it happens in a very laid-back, low-stakes environment. Hiring managers can see how candidates respond from the comfort of their own environment, instead of a swanky conference room or after a jet-lagged journey.

Will the hiring landscape change in the future?

Virtual hiring is the future of recruitment. It opens up opportunities for employers searching for top-tier executive-level talent by providing the continuity of hiring when face-to-face interactions aren’t possible. And, so long as remote work lingers, so too will remote interviewing.

This is especially true when we consider that talent shouldn’t be limited by commute. Your perfect C-suite hire might live several states away or on the opposite coast, and distance shouldn’t be the limiting factor that prevents them from interviewing with (and joining) your organization. While some companies see remote work as a veritable Pandora’s Box that can’t be shut now that it’s open, smart companies are seeing it as a wealth of opportunity when it comes to hiring executives remotely.

The stakes are high for hiring executives remotely

Hiring C-suite executives is a make-or-break activity for any business. Executive search teams and potential candidates alike may not be comfortable with a fully remote hiring process yet, but it’s a change in the business landscape that’s here to stay.

Need help navigating a C-suite hire? Working with a reputable executive search firm is the best way to streamline your search and hiring process, so you can count on talent that’s the perfect fit, the first time around—no matter where in the world they are.

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