5 Questions to Ask When Selecting an Executive Recruiting Firm

5 Questions to Ask When Selecting an Executive Recruiting Firm

The executives that are hired onto your top management team can have an enormous impact on the success of the business. Your executives not only drive the strategy of the firm: they also set the tone, impacting culture, brand, and employee experience from the top down.

However, sourcing and hiring the right candidate for an executive-level position can be challenging, time-consuming and resource-intensive, with candidates difficult to find and harder to attract.

Executive search has also been impacted by COVID-19 and the effects of the pandemic on the business environment. The need for leaders that are sensitive and empathetic, while at the same time agile and experienced in organizational change has never been greater; and the market for leaders with this combination of skills is highly competitive.

Related Reading: How to Improve Your Talent Acquisition Strategy During the Pandemic

Moreover, making the wrong hiring decision at any level of the organization carries a number of expensive repercussions for a company – but often, those are magnified by a bad hire at the executive level.

To answer the challenges of executive recruiting, many companies are building partnerships with executive search firms. An executive search firm can help a company with an impartial, confidential, discreet process that leverages the talent pipeline that an agency has worked to build, nurture, and maintain. An industry-leading, experienced executive recruiting firm can help to streamline the recruitment process, while reducing time to hire, cost to hire, and other critical metrics.

Related Reading: When Budgets are Shrinking, Cost to Hire is Critical

If you are considering partnering with an executive search firm, asking the following questions may help determine which one will best meet your company’s needs.

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1. How Do You Source and Screen Candidates?

You want only the best and brightest candidates for your company, so it’s important to gain a full understanding of their recruitment and selection process. Make sure their recruiting and screening standards match those of your organization and the industry.
Some specific information that can help understand the recruiting process, and how executive-level candidates are screened include:

  • How do they access passive candidates?
  • Do they use an applicant tracking system?
  • What is the process for contact, and initial screening? What sorts of questions are asked
  • How are candidates scored / qualified?
  • Will the firm work with clients to build a detailed picture of the ideal candidate?

    Related Reading: Candidate Sourcing Strategies: Upgrade Your Talent Pipeline

2. What Experience Do You Have Working With Other Clients In My Industry?

Not all executive search firms are masters of all industries. It’s important to choose a partner with proven expertise in your area, to ensure they have the necessary skills and contacts to find the best people for your team. You may, at this point, ask to see relevant case studies, solution guides, or client testimonials and referrals.

3. How Do You Measure Client Satisfaction? What Is Your Rank?

Client satisfaction is the key to lasting success in the staffing industry. Not only does a good staffing firm have a strong system in place to measure client satisfaction, they’re also more than willing to share their scores, as they’re impressively high.

See Sparks Group's Best of Client Satisfaction Diamond Awards and other Awards and Recognitions.

4. What Will You Do To Gain A Deep Understanding Of My Company Culture And Needs?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to staffing. Each company has its own unique needs, so you must ensure the staffing agency will take the time to really get to know your company. This is essential in order to identify candidates that best meet your needs ─ both with necessary skill levels and cultural fit.
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4. How Do You Charge?

Make sure you’re on the same page, financially speaking, with the staffing firm prior to signing an agreement. Many firms utilize a contingency search fee structure where the firm is only compensated once a candidate is placed; other companies may utilize a retained search structure, where the firm is compensated throughout various milestones in the search. To best meet the dynamic needs of our clients, Sparks Group offers both structures as part of our executive search services.


Seeking innovative solutions to your staffing challenges? Contact Sparks Group. We consistently deliver high-quality employees and customized solutions that include traditional staffing and recruiting, direct placement, and payroll services, as well as a workforce solutions program for large users of contract staffing.

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Written by Shawn Connelly

Shawn Connelly

Shawn joined Sparks Group in 2006 and serves as the resident marketing manager, web administrator, proposal writer, Excel guru, blogger, social media coordinator, and fantasy football commissioner.

View all posts by: Shawn Connelly

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