Cowen Partners has put together a list of COO Qualifications for client companies. The chief operating officer (COO) is a senior executive tasked with overseeing the day-to-day administrative and operational functions of a business.
The COO and CEO work together closely, with the COO typically reporting directly to the chief executive officer (CEO) and considered to be second in the chain of command.
Chief Operating Officer: Job History
Is the candidate currently employed full time? Why or Why Not?
What is their reason for considering a new opportunity? Is this a logical move?
What are their reasons for career movement over the last several jobs?
Specifically, what made them leave each position and move to the next one?
Does the candidate have good tenure in each of their last few positions?
Have they progressed nicely in their career into higher level roles?
COO Qualifications: Industry Experience
What is the single biggest problem that you see in operations departments, either external or your own?
How does their experience align with the position you are recruiting on? Do they have experience within the same industry?
Have they been at companies that are the same size or larger than the current opportunity you are presenting to them?
Is there anything relevant to this position that they haven’t done and if so how will they get up to speed quickly and overcome those challenges? Have they faced this situation in the past?
Do they meet all requirements on the job description? Ask them which areas they are stronger in and which areas they are weaker in and then ask for specific examples of their experience.
Are you excited about them when you get off the phone or out of the interview with them?
What would their references say about them?
What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? Elaborate…
COO Qualifications: Professional Accomplishments
What is an example of a successful implementation you have made towards efficiency?
What Are Your 3 Biggest Accomplishments?
How do you think the company will change in two years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far? How did you handle it?
How have they contributed to the bottom-line growth in previous companies? Specifically, what steps were taken to increase annual revenues? Improve EBITDA? Add locations?
What are some examples of improvements that have made?
Increased efficiencies by implementing new ways of doing things?
Have they increased profits? How?
Have they increased growth? How?
Have they cut costs? How?
COO Qualifications: Management Style & Experience
Tell me about your last/ current team, structure, numbers, etc.
What is was your production measurement in your last job?
Have they managed a group of people about the same size or larger?
What is their management style and would their employees have good things to say about them?
Do they lead with an iron first or is it more of a respect situation where they are a natural leader and people want to follow them? Give specific examples.
Are they a hands-on manager? Give examples.
Are they willing to get down in the trenches, roll up their sleeves and do whatever it takes? What would their employees say about them? What would their supervisors say about them?
How do they feel about working overtime or coming in on weekends?
Do they leave at 5:00pm every day? Do they leave at 6:00pm every day?
How do they handle having too much to do?
How do they prioritize their workload?
How do they do in a stressful chaotic environment?
How do they deal with difficult people?
Are they able separate their emotions from situations that are challenging and are they able to respond in a cool, calm, collective way?
Do they like to understand the details behind every process or are they a higher-level manager who likes to manage from a distance relying upon their staff? How do they stay sharp and up to date if others are completing tasks for them?
Are they heavier on the accounting side or the finance side and if so what will they do to make up for their weakness on the weaker side?
Are they proactive in their execution? Do they constantly look for news of doing things, increasing efficiencies, cutting costs and producing more, etc. What new ideas will they bring to the table?
Are they more of heads down accountant or more of a higher energy outgoing individual?
How do they handle difficult staff and how do you determine how much time to spend mentoring them before letting them go?
How do they build relationships with other team members, investors, employees, board members and is there a difference in how you interact?
Cowen Partners is a proud leader among the nation’s best COO executive search firms, enabling companies to harness the power of human capital to fuel their success. In fact, we give our clients access to the top 1% of human capital to create opportunities that accelerate their growth and market share. With Cowen Partners, clients can grow at scale, create value, and drive results with world-class talent.