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Finding Your Next Letterman: Top 10 Ways to Hire an Exec.

Posted by James Patrick Kahler on May 20, 2015

What do you do when your go-to employee leaves your company? How do you fill the void of someone that has been an essential part of your brand or business for such an extended period of time? These are the questions that most likely flooded the minds of CBS executives when they realized they would have to replace late-night talk show legend, David Letterman.

Empty_DeskAs the “Late Show” host will be ending his 33 plus year run Wednesday night, it’s hard to imagine what the show will be like without him. CBS announced awhile back that Stephen Colbert will be taking over in September, who is expected to be a solid replacement, but how do you go about finding an ideal replacement? How do you know it’ll work out?

This sort of ‘passing of the torch’ happens all the time. Hiring managers and boards that overlook the hiring process for executive-level candidates usually take the search seriously. Nevertheless, no matter how carefully or naïve your hiring decision is made, it doesn’t always go as planned.

(For example, when the NY Jets hired Lou Holtz as their head coach for the ’76 season—he ended up quitting with one game to go, resulting in a 3-10 record. A decorated college coach; not so much in the NFL.)

Top 10 Ways To Hire Your Ideal Executive

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While there’s never a guarantee that your next executive will be better than the last, there are ways to help improve your chances. In honor of David Letterman’s retirement and as an ode to his famous “Top Ten” segment, here are the top ten ways to improve your hiring process for higher-level positions:

  1. Take Your Time—in most circumstances, this isn’t a race, so don’t rush. Make a list of what you're looking for in the right replacement. Then go out and search for someone that checks most of your needs off of that list.
  2. Do Your Research—don’t slack during the recruiting process. As dull or time consuming as it may be, make sure you know where to find executives looking for work and where you can successfully attract those who might be interested in your open position. Then make sure they have they type of resume and background needed to take over as a proper replacement.
  3. Look For Industry Experience—this is crucial to how quickly your new executive will be able fill the position. Having similar experience helps ensure that he or she will know how to handle the little things, while taking care of higher-level obligations, which will save everyone time.
  4. Check with References—if you want to know more about your candidates, their experiences and reputations, then perform reference checks. Hiring an executive-level employee without doing so is just silly.
  5. Use Skills Tests—these help you score your candidates and see how qualified they are for your position. Skills tests allow you to evaluate skill sets relative to the requirements of the job you need to fill. They’re also an easy way to help you separate your talent during the interview process.
  6. Check for Culture Fit—while this may be important for every employee, it’s even more so for executive positions. If your future manager or leader can’t jell with the others in the office, then you’re already setting yourself, and your hire, up for failure.
  7. Over, Under, or Qualified?—check to see where your candidates are in their current career. You want to hire someone that’s qualified, yet looks at your opportunity as a step in the right direction for his or her future.
  8. What’s Their Vision—ask your candidates what their goals and ideas are for your company. If they align with your own, great. If they impress, even better! Make sure the vision is something you’re willing to bet on; not despise.
  9. Reject the Assholes—you might have a candidate that has the perfect skill set and background, but if his or her personality is a major let down, don’t hire that person. Hiring a jerk will eventually make everyone in the office miserable.
  10. Leadership Required—even if your ideal candidate isn’t a natural leader at first, there are ways to tell if that person has the ability to become an effective leader. Using DiSC assessments allows you to see what kind of personality and skill set your candidate or recent hire has to offer. They also help inform you on how to hone a person’s natural skills to help make him or her a better leader. No matter what the executive job may be, leadership skills are necessary for running a successful business. 

It’s hard to replace an all-star employee. Nevertheless, if you know how to go about the hiring process the right way, you can enormously increase your chances of selecting the right candidate and future star.

Are these top ten reasons not enough? Download the complimentary eBook below and get everything you need to know about finding the perfect hire!

Hire in a box, ultimate guide to hiring

Talent Management, Recruiting, How to Hire, HR & HR Technology, Hiring Tips, Hiring


James Patrick Kahler

About the Author

James Patrick Kahler is Hireology’s Copywriter & Content Specialist. He is a graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and has over four years of professional experience writing for various industries. Outside of the office (and sometimes inside), he has a passion for comedy, advertising and his Cleveland sports teams…all of them.