Victor Banner
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July 2020

Executive search in the time of COVID.

A huge positive, and a pet peeve, from a seasoned executive recruiter.

Let’s start with the positive:

During the last four to six weeks, we have seen multiple “firsts” in the executive search industry. C-suite level candidates and executives are accepting leadership positions without having shaken a hiring leader’s hand or set foot in our clients’ offices – something that would have been unheard of only a few months ago. One of the few positive highlights of these challenging times. With video conferencing, cloud-based interviews and technologies being leveraged far beyond their traditional use, i.e. preliminary screening, saving travel costs etc., candidates are increasingly becoming more open-minded to accepting potentially career-defining leadership opportunities. Clients, too, do not want to miss out on top-tier talent for their mission-critical leadership roles. Clients and candidates have generally adjusted very well in their thinking, presenting, interviewing, and conducting mutual due diligence in ways that have enabled them to have deep dives on the cultural fit, leadership styles, and other ‘soft’ skills/job requirements. These were all traditionally thought to be determined only via in-person meetings. Bravo to all! What great examples of how to “Think Different” as Steve Jobs used to say. The more we can all think different, the more we will find ways to positively get through all of this.

Now to the personal pet peeve.

By now, most of us know the basics and have been coached on or have watched enough videos on effective virtual interviewing. Right? We’re all in the same boat and we understand the distractions/interruptions from kids running around, dogs barking, ringing doorbells, etc. What I don’t understand are the small percentage of senior-level candidates showing up for Zoom interviews wearing, “Rolling Stones 2017 Tour” t-shirts and/or not having even thought to run a brush through their hair. I mean really. REALLY?!?!

It doesn’t happen too often, but it does happen more than I would expect and it’s astounding. We’re all dealing with the same global crisis, and in many instances personal/family crises as well – and I respect that. But that shouldn’t stop you from at least showing that you’re the calm within the storm. As executive recruiters interviewing you amid the crisis, we’re not expecting a business suit, but jeez – how about the professionalism of, let’s say, a collared shirt and brushed hair? Reasonable??? You’ll feel better for it and it will help ensure you won’t wind up in the “don’t contact again” file. Just saying.

Stay healthy, stay safe, stay together, and stay strong!!!

Victor Kleinman
Senior Partner, Global Life Sciences Practice Leader