Since the start of the year I have worked with a number of companies in securing senior level new hires for their building product and construction boardrooms.

Although these roles are either progressing through the process, or have reached a successful conclusion, it has struck me how very different the journeys to getting there have been.  

I'll use two recent assignments to highlight this; both of which were new positions to boardrooms and not replacements:

 - "Client A" was incredibly particular about what he was looking for from this new hire.  At briefing stage, along with signing off my subsequent Strategy Document on where I was to research and how I was to assess suitability, he outlined no fewer that seven key criteria this person needed to have.  This led to a tight (tough) headhunt, with very few people to target.  However, as he had firmly outlined these, and was consistent throughout the process of interviewing and feeding back, we honed in on three candidates and the ideal result was achieved. 

 - "Client B" shot from the hip when taking the briefing meeting.  There was no clear key criteria for me to go at, with the conversation going all over the place.  This is when our Strategy Document firmly comes into play and needs to be agreed.  I distilled the conversation down to five key criteria points and then chased three times for a response.  His response was a brief, "yes, agree".  This led to me sharing three sample CV's to further gain appreciation and refinement.  Feedback conflicted with the points raised in my original document.  Admittedly two candidates were put through to final interviews, but I fear there was a good dollop of luck in getting there!

And so my advice is:

 - Have a clear set of criteria and separate these from the nice to haves.  Be armed to clearly communicate these at briefing stage so both parties can prioritise traits and skills required

 - Any reputable search firm should share a service level agreement document ahead of commencing the search.  Please ensure you read and agree these steps

 - Communication throughout the process is absolutely key.  I appreciate you're employing a search firm to find the ideal recruit but collaboration is required through the researching and engagement stages to ensure consistency is firmly established and barriers overcome

 - Please ensure you don't get too sidelined with obsessing about the nice to haves at first interview stage.  Assuming intelligence gained from your search partner points towards a breadth of available talent, you should focus on these when you get down to final interviews.  Don't let them cloud your judgement upon first meeting candidates