How do headhunters define a top manager

How Do Headhunters Define a Top Manager?

Continuing with our series on headhunter insights, we have another interview today from Rebecca Schween, MD of Worldkonnekt, a London based executive search firm focused on the German speaking markets. We believe everyone has their own way of presenting their candidature based on their own unique experiences.  However, how do headhunters define a top manager? What skill sets are they looking for? These are questions that we realistically find the best answers for only directly from them. From how much realistic time your resume receives in the initial screening to how important the appearance may turn out to be, learn what you can expect and plan for. Here are some of these insights when you’re looking for your next management jobs!

How do headhunters define a top manager


1. Which questions should a candidate always be ready for?

Rebecca: One of the questions a candidate should be prepared for is “Why do you want to work for us?”. The candidates need to demonstrate they have given this a lot of thought. The candidate should have a good knowledge of the company’s values, mission statement, development plans and products. In the interview, the candidate can use this information to explain why they are suitable for this job and why it matches their career ambitions.  Besides that, candidates should also always expect to be questioned about their professional development and their career ambitions.

 2. What characteristics should a senior manager have?

Rebecca: When recruiting new staff, managers often make the mistake of being too cautious in their approach. It is human nature that often managers won’t want to employ an individual who could potentially challenge their position or undermine authority within the firm. For too many managers the ideal hire is a ‘mini me’ version of themselves. A Top manager will seek to employ people who are stronger than themselves in certain areas or can bring something different to the team. 

3. What is the one thing you particularly look for in a resume?

Rebecca: The first thing we look at, as recruiters, is the stability of the CV. Recruiters and hiring managers initially skim CVs for no more than 30 seconds, so the candidate has to make the right impression and ensure important information can be read easily. If there are any major gaps it is best to explain these upfront. At the same time, the CV should be succinct, no more than two pages and clearly structured listing all relevant information. Given that most candidates are on LinkedIn or Xing or Experteer for specialized senior professionals it is important that the CV mirrors the profile there.

(At Experteer’s candidate job profile, we use the same logic of putting in all the key skills to showcase the personal brand, as we have shared before)

4. From the candidates’-perspective: what can they expect from a top recruiter?

Rebecca: Top recruiters are good listeners! They take time to understand what the current situation of the candidate is, where they want to get to and factors that are important for the candidate. A recruiter should have strong industry knowledge, good relationships with clients and understand the role they discuss with the candidate. During the hiring process, a good recruiter remains transparent, keeps the candidate informed at all times and passes on any relevant information immediately. Excellent recruiters are real “consultants”, guiding the candidate through the process step by step always with a consultative approach and nature.

 5. What are the key characteristics for a senior-position today?

Rebecca: With the rate of change appearing to be increasing by technological innovation in most industries, senior leaders have more inputs than ever being fed into their decision making processes. Firstly, key characteristics for a senior leader are the confidence to delegate and the ability to communicate the vision clearly. It is key for a good senior leader to be a good listener to absorb and make sense of the inputs they are receiving. A great senior leader is highly professional and yet also openly human, making direct reports feel empowered and inspired.

6. For me a candidate is an immediate reject in an interview if…

Rebecca:…there is clear evidence that the candidate is not suitable for the organization. Here at Worldkonnekt we take the screening process in which we assess candidates and clients very seriously. For initial screenings and telephone interviews, candidates must demonstrate why they want to apply for a certain role and it is important for candidates to make themselves aware of what the company culture is.

It is very easy to detect that the candidate has all the right resume qualifications but this will not lead to success in the long term. The culture of the prospective employer needs to be congruent with the candidates’ work ethos to lead to long-term success.

 7. At 40, am I still interesting for a headhunter?

Rebecca: Of course! As your experience increases with age it is important that your career evolves to maintain the same hunger and enthusiasm. Rather than assessing a candidate’s age, it is important to assess what the individual strengths are, how the candidate can add value and what type of life the candidate wants to lead.  From my experience at 40, many candidates have a wide network which can be leveraged and they are confident and experienced enough to be very specific about what they want and don’t want. This is certainly a big advantage.

8. What makes a headhunter “successful”?

Rebecca: Though every headhunter has their own definition of success I define success as an outcome that both, the client and the candidate, are happy with. Both parties should feel they got the best possible experience from working with the headhunter. The client has the best possible candidate joining their team and the candidate has found their dream job! But it doesn’t stop there – a good headhunter is responsible for continuously checking in with both the candidate and the client to ensure ongoing satisfaction. The intention is to have long relationships with both candidate and clients.

 9. What do headhunters pay attention to, in terms of a candidate’s appearance?

Rebecca: It has been found in multiple researches that over 50% of another person’s perception is based on appearance. Appearance is crucial and many well-known articles have been written about the importance of first impressions and the first 30 seconds of an encounter. This is why headhunters pay great attention to a number of things. For me, it is important that a candidate dresses the way they would dress for an interview: Smart and conservative business attire, polished shoes, conservative make up and jewelry (where applicable). Preparation is the key! I expect a candidate to bring all relevant material such as a copy of their resume, a pen and a notepad.

In terms of behavioral aspects, body language can have a significant impact on how a person is perceived, even before having uttered the first words. Candidates’ body language should communicate that they are open, positive, motivated and intrigued. A headhunter needs to have the confidence that this is how candidates will perform in front the client.

10. How should a potential candidate respond when they receive a call from a headhunter at their current workplace?

A good consultant always clarifies whether the candidate has time for a call or when it is convenient to call back.  There is a likelihood that a potential candidate will receive a call while they are at work. It is important to communicate that this is not a good time for a conversation and to request to be called back at a specific time. Candidates can also always ask a good headhunter to send the contact information to their private e-mail address together with a short summary of what they would like to discuss with them.


We would like to thank Rebecca for her time and most valuable insights. We hope that candidates and recruiters alike are able to use these inputs and enhance their recruitment journey.

 About Rebecca Schween and Worldkonnekt

Worldkonnekt-logo-verticalRebecca M. Schween is the managing director of Worldkonnekt, a Specialist Recruitment & Executive Search with a focus on Technology & Financial Industries. Worldkonnekt is a specialist recruitment and executive search firm that focuses on German speaking professionals across a small number of sectors and across a wide geography. Worldkonnekt works with sales & marketing professionals in the technology, financial, financial technology (“Fin Tech”) and eCommerce industries. Our Executive Search team specialises in German speaking sales leaders, regional heads and senior leadership.



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