Finding the right candidate for the C-suite is a risky business. People who look good on paper and show well can mask factors that ultimately lead to failure. What do the most successful CEOs-as-recruiters do?


Our Vistage CEO Peer Advisory Board in New York City has adopted these approaches, among others:

  • Make sure the job description has the people interactions as well as the technical challenges
  • Direct search professionals to conduct behavioral interviewing
  • Get a pre-employment background check by a top firm
  • Make sure the job description addresses scope differences among C-suite members, e.g., CIO vs. CTO
  • Do not rely on recruiters for reference checks
  • Have final candidates sign an NDA and present their go-forward strategy and plan
  • Have them deliver the plan to the senior management team (if a ceo candidate, present to the board)
  • Don’t miss a social opportunity: dinner(with spouse/partner?) or golf


 When references given by the candidate are called, it is hard to penetrate today’s legal guidance to respondents to be very cautious about what they disclose.

After finding a “terrific candidate” CTO, one of our CEOs realized that the given references did not include a prior boss (CEO).

As Professor Furnham indicated at a lunch at Haklyut (see my earlier post: Narcissist Psychopaths and Other CEOs):

  • Someone’s boss knows his value added
  • Peers know someone’s values
  • Subordinates know the person under stress

Therefore, inform the candidate that there will be “non-given reference checks:” people called who are not on the candidate’s list. The respondents may be drawn from the candidate’s resume, LinkedIn and other social media or firms which specialize in human intelligence such as Haklyut.

That’s just my view. What’s yours?




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What Made jack welch JACK WELCH

How Ordinary People Become
Extraordinary Leaders

by Stephen H. Baum (Random House)

Most leaders of American companies started out as ordinary people. What prepared them for the top job?

Countless more ordinary people of equal talent never developed the leadership core required to run the show. Why not?

"Lessons for life about the core leadership traits of character, risk taking decisiveness and the ability to engage and inspire followers."
--Jim Clifton, CEO, The Gallup Organization


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