Matchmaker, Matchmaker.

By Hannah Wallace May 31, 2007

Joe McElmeel thinks of himself as the eHarmony of the business world, hooking up companies with executives that share the same “chemistry.”

It’s one of the most overlooked components of executive hiring, says McElmeel, CEO of Brooke Chase executive recruiters in Sarasota. “It’s a common fallacy that a person who was successful in one key position will be successful in another,” says McElmeel, whose clients include Kohler, Whirlpool and others primarily in the kitchen and bath industries. When the executive doesn’t work out, “did he lose his skill set? No, it was the wrong cultural fit.”

McElmeel offers these suggestions to find your next top-performing manager or executive.

Finding the right fit

1. Be proactive. Just as sports teams continuously “scout,” companies should keep their eye out for talent. “You don’t want a vacancy” for long, says McElmeel. “Hire the best, get them on the bus in the right seats and they’ll take you where you want to go.” Becoming active in trade associations and other business groups is a good way to “scout,” or a professional head hunter can do it for you. “The best candidates are employed, appreciated and not looking to make a change,” he says. “They’re not going to come to you.”

2. Develop a corporate culture through testing. McElmeel tests companies to determine if the culture is independent versus conforming, pressured versus relaxed, artistic or not. Departments within the same company often have very different cultures, and different jobs may have different requirements. Job candidates are similarly categorized to find that right fit. Many tests are available for free on the Internet.

3. Ask the right interview questions. Forget “tell me about yourself,” McElmeel says. “They’ll tell you all the great things.” Opt instead for situational questions such as, “what has been the biggest mistake you made in your career? And what would you do differently today?” These questions reveal problem-solving skills and tell you a lot more about a person.

4. Sell them on your company. “Create desire for the person to get on board,” McElmeel says. “No one should leave an interview thinking it was a bad interview. You have the reputation of the company at stake as well.”

5. Conduct background checks. In this day of Google and instant information, McElmeel says he’s amazed that some companies don’t do the most precursory background check. McElmeel has people sign a reference release form and does a criminal, motor vehicle, educational and financial background check on all job candidates. “I’ve interviewed people working for major corporations and they didn’t have a driver’s license,” McElmel says. And the more well-known the person, the less likely a company is to do a background check, he says. 

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