The prospect of being approached by an executive search consultant can be daunting, especially if it is the first time you have received such a call. Usually the call is unexpected and more often than not, the executive search consultant may never have spoken to you before and you may or may not have heard of the consultant.

From a potential candidates perspective, the timing may not be perfect. In most cases the executive search consultant will call whilst you are in the office and will want to discuss new employment opportunities with you. As such you need to arm yourself with the knowledge to help you navigate the call. If it really is inconvenient to talk then say so and arrange a more appropriate time.

For a first time candidate to executive search, it would be easy to assume that the search consultant has phoned solely for the purpose of making a solid job offer. However, in most instances this is not the case. A good executive search practitioner will know quite a lot of information about a potential candidate before making the initial phone call and therefore should know enough about you to feel you are a reasonable fit for the role they are recruiting. During the first call they will be looking to confirm the information they have gathered and ascertain your level of interest in the opportunity and organisation they are representing. This means that the executive search consultant will contact several individuals who they believe may have the potential to fill the role he has on offer. If you are interested in the role and you fit the job profile the executive search consultant is looking to recruit for, then expect to be asked for a CV and to be invited in for a formal face to face interview.

Executive Search Consultancies work differently to recruiters and if you are invited for an interview remember that this should always be treated as a formal first interview. Whereas recruiters represent individuals and get paid to find you a job, executive search professionals get paid by the recruiting organisation to find them the perfect fit for their role. If you do not impress an executive search professional at interview and make them feel confident you are the right person for their client then you will not make it onto a shortlist.

It is imperative that you differentiate yourself from the other potential candidates. Know your strengths and give good examples of work you have done and your achievements. In doing this, the individual is able to separate themselves from other potential candidates, all of whom are more than likely from a similar background with similar levels of experience. It is small touches such as these that will ultimately give an individual the edge over their competition.

You may also want to ask the search consultant about the role. A good executive search consultant will be happy to answer your questions and you should be able to ask about the role in detail and the client as well as career progression. In most cases the executive search consultant will be happy to discuss these issues and more with you. There are occasions when they may not be able to mention a client’s name due to confidentiality. In these instances you may be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement. If your consultant isn’t prepared to share details with you and they can’t explain why then be very cautious as the consultant may well just be fishing for information. Finally you need to know about the package on offer. Feel free to discuss this but remember that initially clients don’t always give exact numbers and may well be looking for market data before working out how much they need to pay a potential employee.