What you should look for in your next executive hire

5 minutes

The executive search process finds key decision-makers for businesses. And due to the responsibilities associated with these positions, there’s a lot at stake. A high-performing executive can drive profits and support business growth. But, one which fails to impress, can cause a decline in productivity and teamwork. This can impact your results, damaging your company's reputation.

There are various estimations of how much a bad hire can cost a company. But, generally speaking, the cost can be three times higher than the salary paid. Of course, this is only emphasised further when hiring for senior positions. Executives have a wealth of skills and experience that are difficult to find. This results in higher salaries, which worsens the cost of a bad hire.  

Also, top executive talent is likely to be in employment with lengthy notice periods. Sometimes, the executive search process can take up to 12 weeks. So, not only is a bad hire expensive, it can be time-consuming.

But, how do you avoid suffering the repercussions of a bad executive hire? Well, this is why you need to have a reliable hiring process. Yet, before you can do anything, you have to know what qualities to look for during your executive search.

Positive track record

Executives play a major role in the running of your business. So, it’s important to acknowledge their previous track record. A good way to determine this is by looking at their past experiences. It only takes a few seconds to find the average time each employee stays with a company for. This will give you an idea of their commitment, and if they have shown loyalty to previous employers. 

You should see if the executive helped the business achieve its goals. Also, look to see if they displayed a sense of leadership and ran some projects. Here, you should explore their work quality and ability to get results. And do they have any big achievements from their time working for other companies? Remember, their track record is your initial indicator to see if they will be a success for your company. 


Your executives are responsible for making decisions and driving your business forward. To do this, they need to be innovative and open-minded. That means having the ability to spot new ideas, giving you an edge over your competitors. This might lead them to set aside time to analyse market trends and predict their impact. Having an innovative streak means they can respond to change. This allows them to make forward-thinking decisions. This could lead to your company entering a new market. Or their findings could lead to the development of new products and services. 

Your executives shouldn’t be the only employees who are innovating. They should have the foresight to listen to their teams. This requires a degree of open-mindedness. After all, ideas don’t all come from one person. They can come from any member of the team, no matter their experience level. 

Calculated risk taker

Part of innovating requires an element of risk-taking. And those who are willing to take risks are very valuable to companies. Risk takers make the most of the opportunities out there. A risk taker’s fearless approach can boost your company to new heights. In turn, this prompts an increase in revenue and causes company growth. 

Of course, not every one of your employees is going to be a risk-taker. But, when you are hiring for executive positions, this is a quality you should be looking for. This is because executives are involved in the strategic planning of the business. And the outcomes of these decisions can’t always be accounted for. There's risk associated with their roles.  So, you need executives who can handle this risk. And then go on to take advantage of the opportunities that come their way.


Risk-taking can sometimes lead to the achievement of great results. But, when there’s risk involved, your executives aren’t always going to achieve their goals. Even calculated risks and a close analysis of market trends don’t provide any guarantees. So, when they fall short, it’s important that your executives respond in the right way and are resilient. This means they can withstand and recover from difficult moments. And then still maintain the courage to come back with a renewed perspective. 

Resilience is an essential characteristic of leaders. Their role means they will be leading projects, and supporting their teams along the way. But, as they continue striving to innovate, mistakes won't be far away. This is when you need them to keep pushing forward, which will help their team grow, as well as the company itself.


Executives fulfil high-ranking positions at companies. They have key decisions to make and teams to manage. All this responsibility requires a good sense of leadership. After all, executives are often employed to steer the direction of a business. 

Strong leaders have various other notable traits. You will find they are self-aware, confident, good communicators and empathetic. This will allow them to bring your employees together. They will coach, motivate and inspire their teams, helping you achieve your goals.

So, when you are hiring your next executive, make sure they have good leadership skills. Signs of this include leading successful projects and developing individuals on their teams. This prior success means they will be likely to replicate it for your company. 


Communication is a key skill for all your employees. But, it is especially important for your managers. They will be capable of delivering action plans that contain concise information. Due to their ability to communicate, your executives will be good listeners. This allows them to find solutions to problems, meaning they can resolve conflicts. Your new executive should also be able to communicate with other senior managers. This will enable them to work together, directing the business towards its goals. 

Do you need help with your executive search? If you do, then Pareto can help. We find top talent that suits your specific business needs. Whether you are looking for a Sales Manager, Marketing Director or a CEO, we have you covered. To find out more about how our process works, head over to our executive search page.

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