In my role as executive recruiter, I sometimes hear from clients that the candidate they like just “feels right – and know in my gut.” This sounds great, but how can you be sure that this person will perform? When over 40% of external executive hires fail in the first year, you need to raise your odds of success and get it right. The candidate not only needs to have the ability and the desire to meet your needs, but also has to fit in with the rest of the team in order to perform.

Here are four steps to help validate your gut feelings and improve your odds of making a successful executive hire:

  1. Know what you need to accomplish and define it within the position description. Make sure your candidate covers at least 80% of your requirements. Is this person truly capable of meeting or exceeding your job requirements?
  2. As yourself: will this person fit into the existing team? What is it about this candidate that confirms how I feel about them?
  3. Listen carefully to the feedback from other interview jury members, and your team. Take any dissension seriously and explore further with the candidate, and the team.
  4. Validate all of your findings about the candidate with references. You need to be sure you get at least one prior manager, one or two peers and one or two subordinates. You want to know what this candidate is really like to work with from all angles.

Trusting your gut is good, as it is typically a function of your collective experiences. Validating your gut instinct ensures successful hiring. It is very hard to explain to your board of directors that you feel great about this candidate without substantiation. It is too risky.

Working with Laura and her team also ensures you won’t make the mistake of hiring someone who cannot perform well within your team –or who has a checkered past. Our role is to see all sides of a candidate, keep your hiring decisions objective and assuring your success through hiring top talent.