How do you weigh up an executive search firm’s true capabilities? To start with, try these ten questions for your current one. They’ll go some way to help you judge if you have the right headhunter on your side. Or if it’s time to start a search of your own.

  1. What is your reputation in the market? How would clients and candidates describe your approach and conduct?

  2. What would an unsuccessful candidate say about their experience with the firm? Would they be happy to be approached by you again?

  3. How international are you? In which cities/territories do you have a presence and how consistent is your service across borders?

  4. What are your specialist areas? Including functional role expertise.

  5. Can you explain your pricing structure? Pricing is always a sensitive issue and relationships work best when there is transparency over costs/budgets on both sides.

  6. What is your success rate with candidates? Not just with placing them, but also with respect to how long they stay in the role.

  7. How do you structure a total compensation offering? What else should be borne in mind beyond basic salary?

  8. What do you do to address diversity and inclusion? Check they have consistently delivered diverse shortlists.

  9. Are there any conflicts of interest or off-limits? Off-limits being an arrangement a search firm has with an organization in which it agrees not to approach any of that organization’s employees.

  10. What is your audit feedback like? A good way of finding out if the search firm audits processes and performance at the conclusion of assignments, including candidate experience.

Find out what clients look for in executive search firms: latest survey.

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Odgers Berndtson provides executive search and leadership services from over 60 offices in 29 countries.

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