3 Questions to Ask Headhunters Before Choose One for a Senior Hire

If you're about to lose a senior member of your staff and don't have a natural internal replacement, then you might hire in external recruitment expertise. This is a sensitive time for your company; you don't want to advertise that you've lost such an important leader without a suitable replacement. A better way to handle this situation is by hiring a confidential headhunting company rather than a generalist recruiter. Headhunters can work behind the scenes to source senior employees without advertising your vacancy.

If you've never used a headhunting firm before, you may not know which company to hire. Asking these three questions should help you narrow your options.

1. How Will They Maintain Confidentiality?

If you don't want your industry to know that you're making such as senior hire yet, then confidentiality is key. This isn't just about finding a headhunter who won't talk about working with you; the process they use is also pivotal. For example, look for firms who can contact candidates and shortlist them without saying who you are. Experienced headhunters can source and approach suitable staff without giving away too much information. 

Sometimes, your recruiter may ask if they can advertise the role to broaden their search. In this scenario, ask to see any advertisements before they run to check that they don't make it obvious that you are the hiring company.

2. Have They Recruited at This Level Before?

If you have a senior hire to make, then you want to deal with a company that has experience at this level. Filling key management roles takes specialist expertise. Your headhunter should be able to understand what you need and find suitable candidates who can do the job. Thus, it's important to find a firm who has a track record of successfully recruiting at the most senior levels. Ask firms about positions they've filled that are similar to your own.

3. Do They Understand Your Sector?

It's useful to use a headhunter who has experience of hiring in your sector. They will have the industry knowledge and a network of contacts with relevant sector experience. It's often easier to bring in someone who has worked for your competition.

Remember that it's also good to keep an open mind — sometimes, the right hire won't have worked in your industry before. However, your headhunter should still have a good understanding of the industry in which you operate and any special drivers it may have that affect the type of person they shortlist.

Make sure to ask these questions as you talk to each headhunting company on your shortlist. By the end of the process, you should find the right partner for your project. For more information, contact companies like Wyman Bain Ltd.