The Hallmarks of an “Exceptional Engagement Experience”

From the beginning when my partner and I were in university together and had jobs in the service industry, it didn’t take us long to figure out that what we earned was in direct correlation to the experience we provided our customers. It’s what we learned in those early days that provided us with the philosophical foundation upon which we built our global search firm, Med Talent. The roles and dynamics from then to now are vastly different, however the fundamentals of providing an outstanding experience for all parties is the same. It has been a proven driver of success for us, our clients and our candidates. 

Back then it was simple customer service, but today we refer to it as an “exceptional engagement experience” and it’s how we approach the executive search process to ensure an outstanding customer experience. For us, that means for both our clients and the candidates we vet and put forth in a search.  

As the first point of entry for candidates, our role as executive recruiters is to fundamentally understand and convey a company’s culture. We have worked with most of our clients for a long time and many companies have this extremely well defined. For example, we work with a disruptive healthcare additive manufacturing company going through explosive growth. We can provide candidates with in-depth insights into their culture because they have worked diligently to distill their values and culture into a thoughtful, transferable cultural ecosystem that can be shared in a variety of channels.

As a progressive global agency, we have to believe in a company’s values and culture to engage in partnership. In those cases where it appears we don’t share the same values around the candidate experience, then we are probably not the right firm for them.

The first things we do when we engage with a client:

  1. Understand the culture 
  2. Make sure we feel good about it
  3. Practice and study their culture to ensure we can convey it authentically

All of this contributes to our ability to go much deeper than a traditional executive search agency. Our approach provides candidates those important early assurances they are being put forth in a search that aligns with their career goals and provides a like-minded culture that will give them the tools, structure and opportunity to realize those goals. The more accurate assessment we can present – that we can make about the reality of the company – its strengths and weaknesses, in transparency, the much higher rate of success we all will have. 

As the search shifts and the candidate engages with the hiring executive or team, the experience does not change; an exceptional engagement experience is still in place and more critical than ever. Our clients are constantly perfecting this practice and we have several great examples.

We hold a long-term relationship with a leading robotic surgery company where every critical hire is engaged with the CEO. This is not for the CEO’s stamp of approval, but rather it is the CEO who is best able to present the company in its entirety – its strengths and weaknesses and everything in between. When a candidate has this kind of access, even if an indirect report, it shows positive cultural elements on how the company functions. There is something that candidates at all levels appreciate about having access to and being able to talk to a company’s CEO, co-founder, innovator or pioneer.  

Transparency is a critical component to an exceptional engagement experience. What a candidate is hearing must be authentic and those involved in the selection process should be allowed the opportunity to present the opportunity completely and openly. There is nothing more illuminating for a candidate than to have a light shown in those dark corners to help him or her make an informed decision. Often the greatest motivator for a candidate occurs in that moment of transparency when a company thoughtfully shares their challenges.

An exceptional engagement experience boils down to this:

  1. Define your company culture and infuse it into the DNA of everything you do so candidates have a clear picture of the environment that will be joining
  2. Be open and transparent about the company and leadership; welcome the hard questions
  3. Communicate what will be involved in the interview process, and importantly communicate next steps
  4. Provide a point person that is available to the candidate and can answer questions around the interview process, anything from where to park to  providing contact details for post-interview communication 
  5. Make yourself available for follow-up questions and respond in a timely manner, typically within the hour if possible
  6. Evaluate the hiring process regularly, making adjustments as needed

An exceptional engagement experience is not simply having a well-established process that everyone feels good about. There is some heavy lifting and deep assessment to be done. Those things will never go away and never should. The best perk of the entire ecosystem for candidates and our clients to be aware of… when done well, an exceptional engagement experience makes it easier for clients to have a sharper, harder conversation with potential employees because they have provided a reservoir of goodwill. In turn, the company has allowed the candidates, in a professional way, to ask the tougher questions and have the most complete picture possible going into to their new position. Effectively, an exceptional engagement experience sets everyone up for short and long-term success.