EXPERT ADVICE: What are companies looking for when hiring senior executives?

There are four main areas on which companies focus when hiring high-level executives. The first is drive. This is the never-ending energy that an individual possesses in the quest for success. They don’t let obstacles stand in their way. They blast through them and generate results. Some people need Starbucks to start their day; these people jump out of bed and serve as their own caffeine.

Second, companies are looking for motivators. Typically, high-level executives have teams working for them. Can this person create an environment where people want to follow them? Some relate this to charisma, but it is much more. The team needs to believe in the vision as well as the individual with that vision. It is leadership with substance.

Entrepreneurship is also important. People at this level are expected to be self-starters. They should be able to operate with two simple data points, the starting point and the goal. From there, this person should be able to create the roadmap that takes the company from point A to point B. Companies look for the person to be creative and non-traditional in their approach to accomplishing the goal.

Finally, proof of accomplishment is key. A great story is one thing, but evidence that you have done it is another. Companies want to see that you have been suc­cessful in similar roles in the past. For example, if a company is looking for a high-level executive to introduce a new business unit to the marketplace, it wants to hire someone who has done that before. But, better be prepared to show proof. There are too many stories of fictitious backgrounds and employers will want to verify that you did what you say you did.

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