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Get the Most Out of Your C-Suite Advisor – 11 Essential Questions to Ask

Once your organization decides to hire a C-Suite advisor, your business may think it’s the same process as selecting a full-time employee. Think again.  

Working with the right C-suite advisor can help you make informed business decisions and stay ahead of the competition. But how do you know that your selected advisor will give you the best advice?  

It starts with a robust process. By following the steps below when evaluating potential advisors, you’ll be able to determine which one is right for you and get the most out of their counsel.  

Step One: Goals

Start by establishing your company goals. Document your business objectives and why you think an advisory is necessary. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish as an organization. For example- digital transformation, major marketing initiatives, and go-to-market strategy.  

Step Two: Mind the Knowledge Gaps

Once you identify your company goals reflect on yourself and your existing talent. Have you ever done this business initiative before? How about another member of the executive team? If the answer is no, this is an excellent case for partnering with an advisor. The C-Suite advisor fills the knowledge gap.  

Step Three: Identify the Best

Start by speaking to friends, colleagues, and professional contacts as word-of-mouth referrals are a great way to connect with experienced business advisors. Asking peers in networks such as business incubators or alumni organizations is also an effective tactic – particularly if they run companies like yours. Additionally, researching specific C-Suite advisors that specialize in topics pertinent to your company can provide another great source of candidates.  

Another way to identify potential C-Suite advisors is by working with a partner like Talentfoot. Executive search firms can provide a curated network of advisors with the experience you need to achieve your goals.  

Step Four: Evaluating the Talent

When interviewing C-Suite advisors, you want to evaluate their depth of knowledge on the topic, their experience in a C-Suite position, and references from their past clients or businesses they have worked with. You’re looking for a track record of success. Learn about their successes and how they can bring those wins to your organization.   

Step Five: A Peak Behind the Curtain

An important part of the interview process is transparency. Once you’ve narrowed down the candidates to your top advisor, ask them to sign an NDA.  

Now it’s time to explain why you believe your organization has not yet achieved its goals. Are there technology, talent, or financial limitations? Share these challenges with your potential advisor and ask for their take. There should be no major surprises before they accept the work. 

Step Six: Outline the Terms

Lastly, with any C-Suite advisor that makes the cut, make sure you discuss roles, responsibilities, and expectations on both sides before committing. Ask your advisor how you will work together. What time commitment do they estimate? How often will you be in touch, and how accessible is the advisor for communication outside of scheduled meetings? Compensation must also be agreed upon. Some advisors request equity, others prefer cash comp, and some request a mixture of both.

Step Seven: Get to Work

Once you’ve selected the advisor and agreed on the terms, it’s time to being. Think of the advisor engagement as an extended interview. In some situations, these advisors transform into board members or even full-time executive leaders. Hiring a C-Suite advisor is a common way to identify executive expertise. If the professional chemistry is there, you may have found yourself an exceptional fit.   

Bonus Step: Behavioral Questions

The interview process for bringing a C-Suite advisor on board should prioritize asking difficult yet insightful behavioral questions. These questions probe into a candidate’s past experiences to predict their future performance and should help uncover what kind of attributes and skills the individual can bring to the role.

Behavioral questions provide an understanding not only of intellect but also of character traits such as collaboration, communication, leadership, and problem-solving – all key aspects which occupy C-Suite advisors. Uncovering an applicant’s thought processes and how they react in certain situations will enable employers to make an educated decision on their fit within the organization and whether they can take the C-Suite advisor role forward with confidence. Here are some of our favorites:   

  • What do you have left to accomplish?  
  • What makes you feel energized?  
  • What drains you?  
  • Of your previous employer, which was the best cultural fit for you? Which was the worst fit? Which traits of each were a good/bad fit for you?  

Find Your Advisor

Ultimately, finding the right advisor requires a thoughtful approach.  You should ensure that they are accomplished, trustworthy, and have a track record of success. Reviewing their skillset and past successes as well as considering cultural fit can ensure that you can build a strong relationship with your chosen advisor. When you find the perfect fit for your company, provide them with clear expectations of their role and review the compensation structure thoroughly in the contract.  

Contact us if you’re looking for an advisor who understands the nuances of fast-paced executive roles. We can present advisors from our network of proven leaders in as little as two business days.