Onboarding: “The First Phase”

Hiring Executives

onboarding senior level executives, execuquest, executive assessmentsOnboarding is a multiphase process that organizations use to assimilate newly hired employees into the organization’s culture—with the ultimate goal of retaining them and making them valuable contributors.

Onboarding for senior level executives begins much sooner than most people assume. The process is typically thought to start only after the candidate is hired. However, an effective onboarding program actually starts the moment the candidate is first contacted and continues throughout the entire hiring process and up to a year beyond the hire date.

Initial Contact

Who makes the first call to the candidate? Is it the recruiter from the hiring agency or an HR manager within the organization? Whoever makes the initial contact, it’s important that they convey the organization’s “message” or “brand” in a positive way and that it’s consistent with the organizational culture and environment. After the initial contact, then what is the protocol? Who invites the candidate for an interview and at what level are they? Is it the agency recruiter or the organization’s Chief People Officer? Each communication and interaction with the candidate must be considered a unique and important opportunity to introduce the vision, goals, aspirations, and core values of the organization.


Who should interview the candidate? The people who interview the candidate should be relevant to the individual’s success and be representative of the status that this individual will expect for the position he or she is being hired for. Keep in mind that an interview schedule should be a “win-win” schedule and set up in such a way that it is not only convenient for the organization’s personnel but also accommodates the candidate. It’s also important that the time frame and structure of an interview plan be respected. For example, if four to five executives have been scheduled to interview the candidate, then it’s essential that they all make the commitment to be there—and, they need to be on time, be prepared, and continue to reinforce the leadership message.

Overall Experience

How the candidate is treated when they first visit an organization is another opportunity to create a positive impression. If the candidate is staying overnight, what type of accommodation is provided? What transportation is arranged to get them to the office? Who has been told to “greet” the candidate and usher them to an interview room? Who will take them to lunch and if they are staying overnight, will someone take them out to dinner? These criteria can have a tremendous impact on the candidate’s expectations.

As we see, the onboarding process for senior executives starts at the very first contact and continues as a cohesive effort throughout the hiring process. A successful onboarding program should accurately reflect an organization’s culture, facilitate a smooth integration experience, help set appropriate expectations for candidates, and ultimately retain the most productive leaders for the organization.

Want to learn more about how ExecuQuest can help your organization with the onboarding process? Please contact us.  

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