Green Flags You Need to Know about When Recruiting Executives

HR professionals and recruiters know that finding the right people to fill C-suite positions is one of their most important responsibilities. They are often intimately familiar with certain “red flags” they should be on the lookout for during the recruitment process. These key warning signs help them to avoid making the wrong hiring decision, saving the company both time and money.

That said, there are certain “green flags” that are easy to overlook if you’re too focused on identifying potentially negative traits. Although the essential positives, such as relevant experience and qualifications, will always play a key role in your hiring decisions, you might also recruit stronger employees if you pay attention to candidates who exhibit the following traits:


Few companies experience constant growth and productivity. There are always periods of struggle. During these periods, one of the top responsibilities of any member of the C-suite is to inspire and motivate everyone, from the top of the chain to the bottom. They need to be enthusiastic and optimistic to keep others motivated during trying times.

That’s why recruiters should pay attention to signs of enthusiasm during a job interview. When asked about the industry, does a candidate seem to have a genuine passion for it? If they aren’t experienced in your particular field, do they demonstrate an eagerness to learn?

Pay attention to their body language as well. True, you don’t want to rely solely on body language when making a hiring decision (people often misread certain body language cues), but if a candidate is leaning in, making eye contact, and behaving relatively energetically, it could mean they are very excited about the possibility of working at your company.

business woman
business woman


That doesn’t mean it always yields valuable insights. People who are eager to be hired might be reluctant to own up to their faults.

A high-ranking member of your company can’t behave this way. No one’s perfect, and if they stay with the organization long enough, it’s all but guaranteed that they’ll make a few missteps every now and then. A strong executive is one who can admit when this happens. That’s the only way to make progress and to maintain healthy relationships with other members of the organization.

It’s not easy to be certain a candidate is being honest when discussing this topic in a job interview. Unless you have behind-the-scenes knowledge about their past mistakes, you can’t be sure the examples they provide are accurate, nor can you be sure they aren’t omitting valuable information.

Still, asking about their faults is important. It’s a good sign if they admit to a weakness or mistake that is relatively significant (obviously not significant enough to disqualify them from the job, though) and thoroughly describe what they have done to correct the problem.

While everyone makes mistakes, those who are willing to admit to them are more likely to take steps to learn from them.


A resume and cover letter will typically list what a candidate can bring to the role. However, until you actually talk about these strengths, that’s all they are: items on a list.

Look at their resume for strengths you believe would be particularly valuable at your organization, and ask the candidate to provide examples of when they used these strengths in their work.

You’re looking for details. The more confident and descriptive they are, the more they’re likely talking about actual experiences and not simply making up stories they think you want to hear.



In fact, you may sometimes find candidates who appear to have bounced around various industries. It’s a good sign if their work history indicates they were generally successful while doing so, as it generally means they have the ability to adapt. This is a quality you should certainly prioritize when recruiting executives.

Don’t overlook these green flags. There are going to be situations when it’s not easy to determine who is the ideal candidate among your options. Although you have to account for many factors, looking for these qualities can help you to identify the best choice.

Executive Recruiter, clients NFL, Google, Patagonia, Under Armour, Gucci, Nike, Northwestern, eBay, UFC, Vail, REI, Electronic Arts, Live Nation, #HR #Recruiter

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