Executive Search

Find suitable candidates virtually with the right questions


The subject of my latest blog was the fact that “New Work” and the associated working methods have proved their value during the Corona crisis. I outlined the skills and abilities that leaders need in order to be reachable at a distance and achieve good results. However, these skills are needed now and, in the future, not only in the people companies are looking for as leaders, but also by those that search for them. A very important aspect, particularly when it comes to hiring new specialists and managers, is the ability to conduct conversations within the still omnipresent video calls and online conferences. Up until now, personal talks have not only been considered an indispensable basis for managing employees, but also for selection interviews in the search for new talent.

Hiring the right personalities who, in addition to the required professional qualifications, also fit the company, its culture and working methods remains the most important task in Executive Search. In addition to interviews, however, there are other professional tools available to identify the candidates best suited to the respective company and position from a large number of applicants. They will play a greater role in the future, which is why I will talk about them in more detail in a moment: references and aptitude diagnostics.

The experiences I have made in the past months in filling open management positions – I reported on two examples in my last article – have positively surprised not only me but also companies and candidates. The quality of the work has by no means suffered from the current limitations of the Corona pandemic. On the contrary, it has even become a bit more efficient, as the previously usual travel times have been saved. A video call offers a number of advantages over a personal meeting when it comes to getting to know a person. As a rule, you can reach people in their private environment. There they feel more relaxed than in the more formal conversation situation in the office of the potential employer. This makes them more open and approachable and reveals more of their true nature.

References and aptitude diagnostics complement conversations

It seems almost paradoxical that the distance created by the Corona pandemic brings us closer to the candidates in a quite unexpected way. This year, our travel activities have been significantly reduced and we have used the time gained to find new ways of selecting the best candidates in Executive Search. These changes will, I am sure, continue beyond the not yet foreseeable end of the pandemic. Three points are particularly important to me:

  • Adjusting your conversation
    In video call, professionally experienced but introverted people usually do better, because they do not have to leave their personal comfort zone. Extroverted persons, on the other hand, who are brilliant as motivators and salespeople, tend to shine in personal conversations. These distortions need to be considered not only when conducting interviews, but also when evaluating candidates with regard to their suitability for the position to be filled.
  • Obtain references
    The Scandinavian countries, with their open culture, are successfully demonstrating this: So-called background checks are used in Norway, for example, to obtain and verify information about candidates. Everybody knows that job references only have a limited significance. It is better to talk to people that can give a valid reference, usually former superiors or sometimes a client of the candidate. In Germany – for reasons of data protection – the candidate can choose these references. Usually there are three persons with whom the personnel consultant has conversations with, and thus obtains a better picture of the candidate.
  • Aptitude diagnostics to eliminate any remaining doubts
    With a precise assessment methodology, we support the right people decisions because we can reliably forecast a candidate's future performance. And we do this around 10,000 times a year in more than 60 countries. Mercuri Urval’s assessment method, specifically developed for selection and development purposes, and the psychometric tools applied, are based on more than 50 years of experience. They are constantly updated to reflect the latest scientific research. We were the first international company to be certified to the strongest standard for assessment services, ISO 10667-2. To ensure that our customers can be sure that we meet this standard, we are re-certified every year by DNV GL. The result of our efforts is a success rate of more than 94 per cent, meaning that the managers we recommend are successful in their job.

It all depends on the right people

The short-term changes that the Corona pandemic has brought with it in the search for specialists and managers will continue to apply to some extent after the crisis. After all, they have helped to make the search and selection process more efficient. However, in order to continue to find the ideal person for a position, it is more important than ever to conduct well-prepared interviews and use aptitude diagnostics. Whether before, during or one day after the corona crisis, corporate strategies can only work if the right people are in the right place.

In our series of articles “Way Ahead” by Richard Moore, CEO and partner at Mercuri Urval, you will find more valuable insights into what kind of managers you need in the post-corona world.

If you would like to know more about this matter or wish a personal contact, please reach out to Martin Struve:

Martin Struve  |  Senior Consultant
Mobil: +49 175 119 49 62  |  Office: +40 85 17 16 28