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Hiring Senior Leaders: 3 Benefits of Presenting A Slate of Candidates

In order to accelerate business growth, a strong leadership team is essential; it can literally make or break an organization. When the stakes are this high, it’s extremely important to utilize the correct methods to get the right candidates through the door. In this week’s blog, we’ll review the reasons why it’s beneficial for Retained Search Specialists to present multiple candidates to businesses rather than just one at a time. To get started, let’s briefly review what a retained search is.

What is a Retained Search?

The primary difference between talent acquisition specialists who work on a retained basis and your typical talent acquisition specialist is the fact that organizations pay a fee upfront for a retained search. This is because retained search specialists rigorously look for talented and qualified senior-level candidates rather than entry- or mid-level employees. As these positions require a different level of experience and expertise, the pool to draw these candidates from is often very small. The process to find candidates of this caliber are also very different from a typical candidate search; retained searches can take longer and will often utilize different methods to source and interview candidates.

Now that you’re familiar with what a retained search is, we’ll examine the three reasons it’s beneficial for businesses to be presented with multiple candidates at a time rather than just one at a time when it comes to making crucial hiring decisions.

Benefit #1: It’s Important to Have Choices

Say you’re looking to purchase a new laptop for work after your old one finally broke down. Whether you decide to shop online or in-store, chances are you’re not going to buy the first laptop you come across. Why is this?

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We consciously (and sometimes unconsciously) have an urge to compare all options when we’re placed in a situation where we have to make decisions, particularly important ones. Our resources are limited, and as a result we want to make informed decisions so we get the most bang for our buck.

Organizations are no different – if a business is only provided with one candidate at a given time, they may have doubts that they’re the best fit for the job if they have no other options to compare them to. Without the ability to make comparisons, we can never really be sure that we’re getting the best deal that the market has to offer – which is why being presented with multiple candidates rather than one is beneficial when it comes to making important hires.

An interesting insight:
Researchers at the University of Minnesota discovered that it’s easier for people to make a decision between three options rather than one or two. Judging the value of one option in isolation is never easy, but people can actually have a similar amount of difficulty choosing between two options. This is because we tend to unconsciously get stuck trying to avoid making the “wrong” decision, while three or more choices seems to erase that mental block.

Benefit #2: It Can Shorten the Hiring Process

According to a survey published by Jobvite, the average time to hire a C-level employee is 71 days. Employees with “vice president” or “director” in their title take an even longer time to hire at 76 days. For reference, the same survey stated that it takes around 43 days for companies to source and hire an average or entry-level employee.

What does this mean for your organization? Well, if you needed a new C-level executive or director yesterday, you could be waiting a while.

Sourcing and hiring high-level employees can take a longer time for a few reasons. For one, changes in leadership will always have a ripple effect on an entire business, for better or worse. Experienced talent acquisition specialists conduct very thorough screening processes to ensure that the candidates are high quality and the right fit. Secondly, C-suite, VPs, and Directors earn higher salaries than the average employee, so there’s a lot of money on the line when hiring decisions are made at this level.

Knowing this information, imagine you’re a C-level executive and you’ve only been presented with one candidate that you don’t believe would be a good fit. It’s safe to say that the candidate you’re searching for will play a pivotal role in furthering your business’s development, and you’re likely eager to get them started in their role. If you decide the candidate presented wouldn’t be a good match, you may end up back at square one, and due to the length of time it can take to source high-level candidates, it could take more time than you have before another qualified option comes along.

Even once you’ve onboarded a candidate, your new employee will have to spend time getting acclimated to a new working environment, understanding their first tasks, and building relationships with co-workers before they become fully productive in their role. Presenting multiple candidates at a time can expedite the hiring process because the people making hiring decisions have more options to choose between from the get-go.

Benefit #3: The Power of Memory

There’s a famous quote by poet Maya Angelou you may have come across before that can be applied to these concepts: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Depending on where you’re sitting, the fact that others often forget what you say and do can be a good or a bad thing. For people who have to make critical hiring decisions? Not always the best position.

It can be a great experience to interview a candidate that’s charismatic and left a good impression on you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best fit for the job. If you interview multiple candidates over the span of a few months, you may have forgotten the intricacies of each candidate, and are left with a general feeling of whether you liked them or not. Presenting multiple candidates at a time allows the person in charge of making hiring decisions to compare the strengths and weaknesses of each person while their qualifications and personality are still fresh in their mind.

On the flip side of the coin, the recency effect can have the opposite impact on your decision-making abilities. The recency effect occurs when more recent information is better remembered and receives greater weight in forming a judgement than does earlier-presented information.

Primacy effectWhether you believe it or not, the candidate you’ve been presented with most recently could have a slight leg-up on the competition because you may unknowingly assign greater weight to their qualifications and interviews than the other candidates. Being presented with multiple candidates at the same time can greatly decrease the influence these effects have on your decision-making abilities, helping you make the best hiring decision for your organization.


What do you think about being presented with multiple candidates at once rather than one at a time? Let us know on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

Are you in need of an experienced Retained Search team to find the next transformational leader for your organization? Fill out our Contact form and select the “Retained Search” option in the drop down; we will be in touch soon!

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