Recently an executive leader had an unexpected experience in a retained search with our firm. I believe this helps illuminate how candidate experience can be a key to a company’s brand and “success” in recruiting.

The former SVP of HR for a nationwide retailer was a candidate in the VP of Field HR search that I am conducting for the Panda Restaurant Group; she interviewed with the client but found the role wasn’t the right fit. However, her experience with me and our firm would lead to a special next step.

Upon this HR leader taking on a new top HR leadership role, she promptly called and asked me to perform a search for her new company. I was very pleased when she told her CEO how her experience as a candidate with me was the way she wants candidates for their company to be treated and evaluated by a search consultant.

While this has happened other times in my 9+ years as a search consultant, it seems timely to share this recent experience, as I would suggest that any company should be mindful of how they are being represented by a search partner in these vital candidate development relationships.

Here are some key reasons:

Impressions Impact Brands: Companies take their internal recruiting processes very seriously, and I have heard the term “candidate experience” from an HR executive to describe it as a key internal recruiting priority. So why would the impression made by external partners be any less important?

Candidates who are enriched and reinforced by their interaction with a search consultant gain a greater affinity for the company who could be their next employer. On a retained search, we find ourselves talking to very influential people in the market. Our client’s brand is materially impacted by the way that we, as a search partner, interact with each candidate and tell our client’s story in a passionate and truthful manner.

In addition, the choice of a search partner also reflects on a company’s business practices, and I often suggest to candidates that their experience with me is a reflection of how my client company makes decisions.

Interviewing – Advocating for Our Client: I believe that interviewing by a search consultant must be a way to both tell our client’s real story and also to get to know the truth about candidates – I believe it must be much more than just a confirmation of achievements and accomplishments. This interviewing approach is what created this recent “candidate turned client” opportunity. Candidates often comment that their interview with me was both self-reflective and also a great way to learn what’s most important to the company they might join.

This process starts with listening to our client from the start – spending time to get to know key people, but more importantly to try to understand the culture, values and foundation of a company, or otherwise stated: “what’s most important”. The way a candidate is drawn to join a company is about a lot more than money or title. I find that most people wish for a professional opportunity that aligns with what they consider most important in their lives.

Interviews for our clients need to be relationship building experiences. In order to really get to know a candidate, sharing insights into the client company is the beginning of building trust. This trust is critical to enable candidates to share real insights into themselves – to help us learn about their motivations, their principles and their ideals. I believe these are critical insights our clients really need. A healthy relationship established with a candidate during our interviews is the beginning of the critically important relationship needed between candidates and their future employer.

A Distinctive Approach to Retained Search: Some think Retained Search is a commodity. My clients seem to believe that what we offer is distinctive.

Of course, our firm is great at candidate sourcing and recruiting and we offer a highly professional approach to representing our clients; also, our consultants’ have career backgrounds (including my own 20+ years) as corporate senior executives, providing us a client’s perspective.

However, the experience of candidates is a critically important element of success for our clients on our search projects. Our focus on candidate experience provides our clients with a tremendous jump start for a successful relationship with a future member of their leadership team.

Please let me know if I can help your company or other growing organizations.


Jeff Black
Partner, McDermott & Bull Executive Search

Cell: (714) 356-1949
Office: (949) 529-2672
2 Venture, Suite 100
Irvine, CA 92618

“Just Do The Right Thing…Every Time”