Finding senior leaders: A recruitment guide for co-ops and mutuals – Part 2

08 February 2024

Geoff Curran

The BCCM recently caught up with recruitment expert Geoff Curran, Practice Leader at executive search firm, Gerard Daniels, who shared his valuable insights into the recruitment process for senior leadership positions in co-operatives and mutuals.

In the first part of this blog series, we looked at the essential steps to take before commencing the search process. In this second instalment, Geoff shares insights about preparing for the interview, to ensure the time a panel spends with prospective team members is productive and results in a successful outcome.

Once the groundwork has been established, the next crucial steps are advertising or commencing direct search, planning and conducting the initial screening and undertaking formal interviews.

 1. Craft a compelling job advertisement

The job advertisement should reflect the values and culture or your co-op or mutual while clearly outlining the position requirements and expectations. It’s important to decide ahead of placing the advertisement whether your co-op or mutual will remain anonymous, or if you will reach out directly to any potential candidates through various channels, such as personal networks or executive search firms. Geoff points out that directly approaching potential applicants allows you to capture the attention of leaders who may not be actively searching for their next role.

 2. Prepare interview questions and evaluation criteria

Ensuring a structured, consistent and objective approach throughout the interview process is critical. Before conducting interviews, ensure all members of the interview panel have a thorough understanding of the previously agreed selection criteria.

Geoff explains that it is necessary to develop a set of interview questions aligned with the position requirements, organisational values, and key results areas. For panel interviews, consider using a scoring table to facilitate objective assessment. Consistency in evaluation is paramount to making informed decisions.

3. Conduct interviews

Before proceeding to formal interviews, it is helpful to first conduct informal telephone discussions to gauge a candidate’s potential fit and interest. According to Geoff, this step helps in determining who to invite for formal interviews. If you are using an executive search firm, they will usually conduct these conversations on your behalf.

After these phone conversations, select a manageable number of candidates (e.g., 4 to 6) for in-person interviews. It’s then time to move to the formal interview stage. These interviews represent a substantial investment of time and resources, with each interview likely to take at least one hour.

Ensure clear communication with candidates regarding interview time and travel arrangements. It is customary for the organisation to cover expenses for flights and accommodation when inviting people from another state or region for in-person interviews.

4. Communicate the opportunity

Beyond assessing a candidate’s qualifications and experience, it’s important to use the interview as an opportunity to articulate your value proposition. Hiring managers and board members should be prepared to explain why the organisation is an attractive opportunity for prospective candidates. The interview process should ensure candidates come away from the process with a positive first impression. Additionally, be mindful of your legal responsibilities, avoiding questions that constitute a discriminatory line of enquiry.

Incorporating these steps into the recruitment process for senior leadership positions in your co-op or mutual will enhance efficiency and fairness and help ensure there is alignment between the successful candidate and your organisational goals. By adopting a structured approach and clear communication, co-ops and mutuals can attract top talent.

Stay tuned for our final blog, where Geoff will outline how to professionally deliver interview outcomes to candidates and how to ensure the hiring process is a constructive experience for unsuccessful internal candidates.

Geoff Curran has many years of experience in business leadership and executive search, much of this within the co-op and mutual sector. Gerard Daniels is an international executive search and board consulting firm operating in the Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Africa and the Americas.

Want help with recruitment? Contact Geoff directly.

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