Retained Executive Search Questions to Consider When Selecting A Search Firm

  1. Does the search firm/consultant have a solid reputation? Are client references available?

  2. Who will actually be doing the work? Who will be representing our company in contacting potential candidates?

  3. Is there good initial chemistry or rapport between us and the consultant who will be doing the work?

  4. What experience do the consultants have in our industry? Or with similar types of companies? Or in the same functional areas?

  5. Does the the firm have a proven approach or methodology? How would it be adapted -- if at all -- for this search?

  6. How does the firm handle fees -- and expenses?

  7. Will the firm tie fees to time to completion? (e.g. faster completion, higher fee; slower completion, lower fee)

  8. What is the firm's policy on recruiting client executives i.e. "blockage" and off limits?

  9. Does the firm have a customized search strategy for our assignment? Have we been involved in reviewing and providing input?

  10. Can the firm give us statistics on completions? Can they also cite situations in which its people have declined to undertake an assignment?

  11. To what extent does the firm provide input on the soundness of the specifications as they relate to:
    1. a realistic chance of finding people who meet the stated criteria
    2. the chances of attracting the person to the position
    3. competitiveness of the proposed overall package

  12. Overall, is the consultant willing to raise concerns, potential pitfalls, and anticipated difficulty factors (without creating excuses)?

  13. How will the research for the search be conducted? For example, will Internet-based resources be used for lower level tasks (e.g. candidate identification) and skilled consultants used for candidate development?

  14. Does the consultant explain the importance of meeting with all key executives of our organization who will be involved in the search process?

  15. Will the firm commit to finishing the assignment, unless mutually agreed to stop work? What guarantees can we expect?

  16. Timing -- When can the firm begin to work on the search? How long does the consultant estimate the search will take?

  17. What is the communication plan? How often and in what way will the consultant keep us informed? What about unforeseen problems?

  18. Does the consultant require a commitment from us in terms of availability for communications and interviews, decision turnaround time?

  19. What approach does the consultant use for introducing candidates: one at a time, as developed -- or as an entire slate -- why?

  20. Does the consultant make use of calibration candidates or benchmarking early in the process for purposes of mid-course correction?

  21. How will the consultants ensure that candidates are presented in a thorough, balanced, and objective fashion?

  22. How much guidance will the consultant provide? When are reference checks conducted? Who conducts the reference checks?

  23. How long does the consultant stay with the process? through final negotiations with the successful candidate? assistance in relocation matters, etc?

  24. Does the consultant follow-up at one or more points within the first year of employment to ascertain how the new 'marriage' is working?