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In the world of recruiting, terminology is often confusing and misused. Every candidate should work to understand the different types of recruiting firms and the various ways in which they operate. Without even the most basic understanding of these differences, the complex task of a job search can be hindered and the candidate’s ongoing career development may be jeopardized. 


Executive Search Firms

Executive search firms are retained for a fee by an organization with an exclusive contract to secure the best candidate for a particular role. Searches are typically used for senior-level positions requiring specific expertise, for which there is a limited pool of appropriate candidates. The search firm will seek out the best candidate for a position, to include candidates who may not have expressed an interest in making a career move. Most firms maintain long-lasting relationships with clients and serve as ongoing management consultants in order to provide market information regarding their client’s specific industry. Executive search professionals are deeply involved throughout the recruitment process, regardless of its length—from the launch of the search until the candidate has started their new job. A retained search generally affords greater confidentiality and a more professional, comprehensive process than a contingency search.

Contingency Search

A contingency search firm typically places candidates in low-to mid-level positions and its fees are contingent upon the position being filled. As contingency search firms seldom work on an exclusive basis, it is not rare for a client to work with multiple contingent recruiters on the same search at the same time, in order to maximize the volume of the candidate resumes they receive. In addition to full-time roles, contingency firms may also focus on temporary and contract positions.


Interview Tips For Top Executives

The interview is a critical component of the search process. Clear articulation of your professional experience and prowess will leave a lasting impression on the mind of the interviewer and provide you with an invaluable advantage. In preparation, ask yourself the following questions.



Give me an example of a time when you had to deal with an employee problem. What was the problem and how did you arrive at a solution?

Describe a time when you had to deal with multiple and/or conflicting points of view concerning the best course of action to take for your organization. What was the issue? How did you handle it? Was your strategy successful?

Leadership and management

Tell me about a situation where you had to coach an individual, or a group of individuals. What was the situation? How did you approach the coaching intervention? What was the outcome of your involvement?


Describe a particularly challenging professional goal you set and achieved. How did you ensure success? What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?


Give me an example of a professional objective or project you did not successfully complete. Would you do things differently the second time around? How?

How would your coworkers describe you? Your employees? Your manager?

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