Who’s Doing the Interviewing, Anyway?

Hiring at the executive level is entirely different from hiring middle- or lower-level employees. Senior people have a history that has taught them what works (at least for them) and what doesn’t. They know what they want and don’t want, and they trust their ability to evaluate corporate goals and expectations and assess how achievable they are.  Senior people also value their own talent and trust their instincts. They want to make sure that the skill set they bring to the table will make a measurable contribution to their future employer.    

At the senior level, the tables often turn because top executives are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them. At DrexlerGellerAssociates we’ve learned a lot about what top advertising and media talent seek in a new job, and how they make the decision to change companies. Based on our experience with senior people who have changed positions successfully in the past few years, we have identified several criteria that seem to resonate with the majority of executives.

I want to make a difference.

When we ask successful advertising and media executives what their primary objective is in evaluating new opportunities, they answer somewhat unanimously: They want to make a difference. It makes sense. These are people who bring a high level of experience and energy to the workplace. They are challenged by opportunity and motivated by their ability to implement growth and change. This is, to a great degree, what has already made them successful in their careers. They seek a company that welcomes their vision and is willing to put resources behind it. At the same time, these candidates are looking for a clear indication that their new company is open to new ideas and willing to entertain different ways of thinking. Demonstrate that, and you will be one step closer to recruiting them.

I want more responsibility.

Top advertising and media executives have learned through experience (usually with more than one company) what often works and what often doesn’t. They have paid their dues and have earned the right to be responsible for setting a course and steering the ship in the best direction. They want to exercise that right, and they are willing to accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions and decisions. Empowering senior executives with clearly defined responsibilities is a win-win. But there are certain caveats.

No company and no employee should ever be responsible for boosting someone’s political ambitions or building a faulty ego. Only when goals are real and measurable, and only when they provide a clear corporate benefit, can top talent work successfully. Yes, the best-laid plans can change, and there must be room left for fluidity. But to ensure that a new executive has the greatest chance to succeed with a company, both parties must agree from the start about expectations, opportunities to achieve them and ways to measure them.
I want accountability and support.

Senior executives have learned a few things on their way up the corporate ladder. Many have learned the hard way that it is only when everyone fully understands what is expected and these expectations are supported by the corporate infrastructure that the executive can truly succeed.

Senior executives want assurance that the company is ready to advocate for change, implement it and support it. They will not want to work for a company where ideas are stifled by entrenched executives who say, “That’s not the way we do it around here.”

I want to be in the right environment.

Everyone knows (or should know) the importance of a good “fit.”