How to interact with an Internal Candidate during a search

I was speaking today with one of our clients and we discussed an important question: ” How do we handle an internal candidate for the VP search we conducting with KULPER & COMPANY?”

As with most searches we conduct for our clients there is typically an internal candidate that the client would like to consider even when the decision has been made by the President, COO or Provost to conduct a nationwide external search. It is really important to remember that internal candidates are colleagues and will likely stick around regardless of the outcome of the search. Clearly, they should be treated with sensitivity and honesty throughout the search process because they will talk with their friends inside the company or university about how fairly and professionally they felt they were treated throughout the search process.

As with most things in life —the GOLDEN RULE… ( with slight adaptation)— is a very good guideline. You don’t need to go overboard —be consistent—-treat your internal candidates the same way you do external candidates. Make sure the internal candidates are provided with all the information about the search and plenty of access to the search consultant and search committee throughout.

At the end of the search you will feel particularly gratified to hear the internal candidate say: ” I work for a great organization. During the search I was given all due consideration throughout the process. Even though I didn’t get the offer, I always felt that I was being treated fairly and honestly”. This kind of feedback is not only a commentary about the professionalism of the search process but also important affirmation of company or university culture.

So, be fair—inclusive and highly communicative with well qualified internal candidates. You will be helping to support and affirm the real culture of your organization.

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About Keith Kulper

Keith D. Kulper is the president and founder of KULPER & COMPANY, LLC an executive search consulting firm working in the area of senior level leadership for academia and corporate innovation. We are strong advocates of nurturing the linkage between academic investigation/research and corporate innovation/full commercialization of new product solutions. We specialize in attracting proven leaders who can effectively drive transformational change. The firm operates an Advisory Board that meets annually to bring together leaders from academia and corporate innovation to help drive continuous improvement of our professional practice. We are also an investor in early stage companies. We take pride in supporting the growth and development of business and engineering schools at leading universities throughout the United States.

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