Why is it Difficult to Hire Senior Executives in Growing SMEs?


Hiring for senior level positions in growing SMEs, like any other hiring, is a Herculean task. When hiring a high-rank employee, it is just not employing someone for completing a job, but choosing a future leader who could lead business to greater heights.

A single wrong hire could prove to be fatal, more so for growing companies, as he/she could possibly destroy years of efforts of the founder(s). However, wrong hiring is very common in fast growing SMEs. This is due to the difficulties in hiring.

It is difficult to hire senior executives in growing SMEs because of the following reasons:

Lack of required competencies of recruiter in other functional areas:
The founding team, with sound product knowledge and in-depth understanding of the industry, are usually involved in the interviewing process of senior level hiring. With strong technical and business skills, it is easier for the team to evaluate a candidate’s competencies in these areas. However, hiring for areas where the founding team has had no working experience or conceptual knowledge is very challenging leading to a potential wrong hire.
One way to overcome this difficulty is to involve a professional hiring agency that will involve experts with the required functional skills to lead the discussion processes in the initial screening stage or talking to candidates referred by friends and colleagues. This could help obtain a genuine feedback on the technical competencies of the potential candidate.

Employing wrong recruitment process
Often, hiring happens with no prior preparation by companies. Interviewers are not sure of roles and responsibilities, skills, personality traits and expectations from the new hire. All this could lead to a wrong person on board.
Setting up standard industry relevant hiring practices for all roles will help solve this problem. Predefining technical and interpersonal skills required for a position, defining job description and desired candidate profile in a clear-cut manner, setting out outcomes from the role in accordance to business goals are important for right hiring.
Understanding the profile of the applicant such as prior experience, type of companies that he/she had worked earlier, job roles, industry knowledge etc. before the interview is necessary. All this will lead to identifying the most suitable recruiter(s) for the interview process, who could in turn make a better hiring decision.

Not evaluating cultural fit
Judging a candidate’s cultural fitment is as important as technical competency but quite often ignored while assessing a senior hire. Asking several questions around the candidate’s work environment in the past companies, leadership and work styles, challenges faced and solutions adopted etc. will throw light on the cultural fitment of the potential new hire. Stating company’s current practices during the discussions will help new hires overcome any cultural barriers. Using psychometric tools that assess a candidate’s leadership and personality traits that match the requirements of the company will also minimize the possibility of hiring a wrong person.

Not assessing flexibility to adapt to smaller set-ups
Working in bigger companies is relatively easier because of set processes and large teams in place to support one’s tasks. On the other hand, SMEs operate with lesser financial as well as human resources. It is often difficult for employees who have worked only in large companies to adapt to working with meagre resources. So checking a candidate’s ability to adapt according to business requirements is highly essential.

Hiring too quickly
To fulfill the requirements of fast business growth, many companies feel the need to hire too quickly for a vacant position causing mistakes while hiring. It is good to understand that waiting for a right candidate until the right time is better than hiring someone too quickly under pressure, which could potentially lead to a wrong hiring decision.

To summarize, the difficulties in hiring a senior executive in growing companies and the solutions to overcome the same are mentioned below:

Hiring senior executives

Senior level hiring difficulties and solutions

Implementing these hiring practices will help companies make right hiring decisions about the new senior level executives. Hiring the right type of senior executives on board who work on the right tasks at the right time is the key to maintain and enhance the growth momentum for SMEs!

- Ms. Uma Bhanu Kondury, Senior Consultant, Prajwal Business Services Pvt. Ltd.,

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