What are your rights as a candidate in an Executive Search process?

Well, this is a question with many answers. I get a lot of feedback from people in my network, and to say the least, there are many examples of people being in Executive Search processes, where they felt their rights were non-existing. Lots of horror stories out there!

This post is not about pointing out this and that Executive Search company’s faults and weaknesses. And it is not even about putting ourselves on a high horse. I am unfortunately quite sure, that over the years, I have made mistakes myself, not giving the candidate the right or timely feedback or similar. Mistakes happen, And I have yet to see anyone that is perfect in all aspects.

But this post is about, what I believe a candidate HAS the right to expect, when in an Executive Search process, and what we at least strive to be and deliver.

First and foremost, a candidate deserves respect. Even if a candidate has applied for a job themselves, or if they are Headhunted, they deserve to be treated with respect. In my book that means that the consultants and researchers always respect the candidates’ busy calendar. That we never ever betray their confidentiality. and that our methods of interviews etc. are respectful, and in line with how you would treat any good colleague, friend or similar.

It also means that we are very cautious and discreet when we contact them at work or connect on social media or similar. A candidate is also a client, even if they are not the ones paying the fees.

I believe a candidate has the right to know what’s going on in a search process they are in. Which means that a regular update from the Executive Search Company on current status is desired.
This is however one of the most difficult aspects for the Executive Search Company, often because there are many people involved in a search, both candidates, people from client side and from Executive Search Company.

Information can be lost, decisions postponed, feedback waiting etc.

However sometime a feedback to a candidate can also simply be, that there is no news so far. We at least attempt to do that as a minimum. We also make sure to explain to our candidates that it is totally ok for them to contact us, and ask for status, without it will ever reflect negatively on the process they are in. That alone gives a sense of calm for our candidates.

Test and rejections
In most Executive Search processes, the candidate will undergo some sort of assessment, personality profiling, or aptitude tests. In any case, it should go without saying, that if a candidate has filled out any sort of test etc. then they are entitled to a good feedback, both to see the same reports etc. that the Executive Search Company are seeing, or at least what the client is seeing. And preferably also a good and thorough verbal feedback, or at least the offer to have one.

Naturally not all candidates end up getting the job. In my opinion, every candidate that has been interviewed (by consultant and/or client), has the right to a rejection, followed up by a reason and explanation. Sometimes it is just a feeling. The client didn’t feel the chemistry. But if the consultant actually gives it a bit more thought, often there can be a more insightful feedback. Maybe the client didn’t feel the candidate was proactive enough. Or focused too much on wanting promotions quickly or simply that the client felt that the candidate was to insecure or similar. I try to at least give a bit of constructive feedback, so the candidate always has an idea of what went good, and what could possibly be improved in the interview.

To conclude, a candidate in an Executive Search process, might not always have the rights he or she deserves. But at least above, you can see some of my thoughts on what all candidates DO deserve.

Good luck in your processes, I hope you are treated well.

PS. feedback is welcome. If you have ideas how to further improve, we are always open for that!

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