Challenges Faced By Companies In Selecting Senior-Level Executives

Posted in Human Resources Articles, Total Reads: 2802 , Published on 04 September 2012
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In an informal meeting with one of my relatives who owns medium sized software company he shared challenges his organization faces to fill senior level positions. He invited me to work on a short time project to resolve pertaining issues. His invitation coincided with my course requirement to do summer project for two months. I found it interesting and chose to take up the project with intent to offer a solution.


I, first, began to interview employees (especially HR managers and supervisors) which gave me sense that root cause of this problem is the selection process.

In order to propose a robust selection process, I referred to extant literature on recruitment process, HR practices and organizational culture.  Thereafter I underwent literature on popular and successful selection processes and practices of Indian organizations and also interviewed senior managers of some of those organizations. As a result I proposed a framework which included a step-by-step procedure for the selection process (figure 1). Apart from it software was also offered as initial and pilot solution.

STEP 1: Sourcing Applicants

The organizations use multiple methods in sourcing applicants. 50% of them go with recruitment agencies, 77.78% go with employee referrals, 80.56% tap personal and professional networks and around 13.89% of them go with the people whom they meet during some events or conferences. The extent to which the selection panel considers “Sourcing Applicants” as a challenge is 3.389 (on an average) on a scale of 5.

STEP 2: Shortlisting suitable profiles

Each industry has different methods of shortlisting the candidates depending on their requirements and within an industry, organizations have different approaches. The organizations are generally very clear on the shortlisting criteria they adopt and rate it 4 on 5 based on their previous experiences. The extent to which they consider “Shortlisting suitable profiles” as a challenge is 2.944 (on an average) on a scale of 5.

STEP 3: Selling the Organization to prospective candidates

In the selection of senior-level executives of any organization it is very important that the company must be attractive for the applicant to join. The organizations are confident about this step in the selection process and most of the companies have given 4 on 5 to the extent to which they feel their organization is attractive. So, they have given only 2.667(on an average) on a scale of 5 to the extent to which they feel “Selling the Company to prospective candidates” is a challenge. However this could be self-report bias.

STEP 4: Scheduling and Executing the Selection Process

The organizations think they are 80% efficient in meeting the deadline for selection process and smooth execution of the process. Hence, they have given 2.778 (on an average) on a scale of 5 to the extent to which they feel “Scheduling and Executing the Selection Process” is a challenge.

STEP 5: Assessment of Candidates for Suitability

This is one of the most important steps in the selection process and the organizations rate their current assessment tools as 75% effective in assessing the shortlisted candidates. Also, they consider “Assessment of Candidates for Suitability” is a moderate challenge (They have given 2.861 on a scale of 5).

STEP 6: Salary Negotiations

The organizations think that their recruitment processes are around 76% effective in balancing the trade-off between quality and cost of employees. As the people being employed are for higher hierarchical positions it is very important for the organizations to reach an optimum salary to both parties. They rated “Salary Negotiations” as a challenge (3.194 on a scale of 5).

STEP 7: Finalizing and Rolling out the Offer

It process driven and organizations consider this as a moderate challenge and gave a rating of 2.472 on a scale of 5.

STEP 8: Post Offer Follow-Up

The organizations consider this as a moderate challenge with a rating of 2.472 on a scale of 5.

Observations from interviews

1. Majority of interviewees said that SOURCING OF APPLICANTS and SALARY NEGOTIATIONS are the biggest challenges faced by the companies in selecting senior level executives

2. Around 77.78% of the organizations have a formal process to keep in touch/engage with the selected candidate

3. On an average 80.28% of the offered candidate join the organization whereas the count is between 90% - 100% in 50% of the organizations

4. Other important challenges mentioned:

  • Deciding on the perfect fit for the organization
  • Defining a meaty role for a senior level executive
  • Time lag between offer and joining and thereafter retention

5. Methods suggested by the interviewees to address the challenges:

  • With better strategy/ Alternatism; preparedness for different scenarios
  • Plan early
  • Effective communication
  • By being in touch with the senior level executives apart from office hours
  • Training internal resources for the projected needs
  • Cross cultural working
  • Automated data gathering and analytics tool which help make right recruiting decision

6. Following features organizations expect from a service or a product which would help them in the selection process of the senior-level executives:

  • Quantitative measures  or percentile for each factor of selection
  • Getting the right people to apply for the job
  • To maintain a separate data base (with reach across geographies, networks, organisations) of senior Level executive profile (this should be very confidential)
  • Negotiation/communication skill
  • Product which is web based and affordable and definitely better filtration process.
  • Competency of the person should be very clear.
  • Reliable and flexible
  • Should keep track of References and Past Experiences
  • It should meet multiple customer segments with attractive pricing
  • Presentation skills

7. Other key points regarding the product/service mentioned above:

  • Acceptance of such service/product among organizational members engaged in recruitment activities. However interviewees expect 40% initial acceptance.
  • Cost of such service/product.

The entire process of developing the template for interview and collecting opinion from all the people involved in recruiting the senior-level executives took two months and overall it was a good learning experience.

This article has been authored by Puppala Mounika from IIM Indore.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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