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26 July 2021

Over the last two years, the Covid crisis has elicited stark changes within multiple business areas and Executive Search is no exception.

In my opinion, there have been two noticeable structural changes to our industry:

  • The massive increase in the use of video conferencing imposed by the lockdowns and health restrictions.
  • The soaring of WFH as well as an increased flexibility regarding whether or not executives will remain purely home-based.

The wider use of video conferencing allows us now to significantly reduce the lead time to a first interview between a consultant and a candidate, or a client and a candidate. Arranging in person meetings, with all the diary negotiations that necessitated, was always problematic and in many ways life seems to have become more fluid. However, this ease of business is not all positive.

I have observed an increasing volatility of candidates within selection processes. Indeed the 'plug and play' aspect of video conferencing appears to result in many candidates committing to the process much less than in a face-to-face as the former requires a far lighter logistical input than the latter.

Some candidates engage in a recruitment process without any sincere motivation for making a professional change. And even if motivated, some candidates also would consider video interviewing a lesser process, versus face-to-face, and so sometimes do not give it the necessary preparation, time or attention. Some may even unconsciously believe they will be given a later opportunity to have a 'proper interview' but actually they adversely impact their chances to even qualify for the next step.

Video interviews can limit our capacity of thoroughly assess an individual as traditional paralinguistic nuances are distorted such as waving, opting for a blurred or fake backgrounds, poor connectivity etc.

There is no doubt that the rise of remote working has shaken up organisations by giving a reduced focus on where people decide to live relative to the the location of the company. This recent change elicits a larger pools of relevant candidates and consequentially a higher quality shortlist. This new WFH culture needs to be supported and lived by our clients - either through their own culture and conviction, or by mere pragmatism in reaction to what is a hugely competitive Talent market.

In spite of all the recent changes imposed upon our ways of working, effective Executive Search remains strongly based on the basics -  simply finding the very best leaders or problem solvers for the benefit of our clients.

Julien Wilhelm, Partner


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