March 22, 2023
The selection process is highly stressful for companies and recruiters. However, the challenge raises to a whole different level when interviewing CEO job applicants. The Chief Executive Officer is the highest-ranking individual in an organization.
They make the principal and most impactful decisions in a company, driving its profitability, expansion, and market share. CEOs typically have extensive experience, knowledge, and wisdom that makes them both powerful and intimidating.
For instance, their average annual salary is 107,680 USD, and C-Suite professionals must work in their industry for at least five years to reach this position. Because of that, recruiters have a demanding task when interviewing candidates who apply for executive roles.
The best way to do it right is to prepare well and establish a thorough selection process. There’s no place for mistakes or hesitation when identifying a CEO because they will make the principal decisions in a company and determine its future.
Not getting the selection process right could jeopardize an organization’s market capitalization, stock prices, reputation, and longevity. Recruiters and hiring managers should avoid mistakes by establishing comprehensive interview questions that help them determine the compatibility of each candidate.
When preparing for interviews with executive candidates, it’s advantageous if you weeded out underqualified applicants in previous stages. Only those who fit the profile of your envisioned ideal candidate should get to the interview phase.
However, first, you should determine what makes someone a perfect CEO of this specific company and in this industry.
An executive should lead by example. Because of that, they must embody a company’s mission, principal objective, culture, and values. Yet, that’s not enough.
Your ideal CEO should meet the technical requirements and expectations to be successful in this role. They should have an all-encompassing knowledge of the industry, understand the trends, and predict challenges.
Moreover, an executive should be goal-driven and focused on achieving results. They don’t settle for the average and have an innovative approach.
The ideal CEO candidate will express its passion for the industry in their job application and showcase achievements and projects that prove their expertise. They should have the capacity to share their knowledge within the organization and stimulate innovative solutions and strategies.
Hence, your perfect applicant is a stellar cultural fit who has the required technical and soft skills.
That should make it easier to understand what kinds of questions you should ask. Center them around the vision of your ideal CEO and design the questions with this in mind.
Strive for an in-depth assessment as you’re interviewing people who applied for a role with the highest level of responsibility and accountability. Because of that, you should pay attention to nuances in their answers that could make the final selection easier.
Simplify the process by identifying criteria that will guide your interviews and help you recognize candidates with the highest potential according to their answers. Seek the input of other executives and board members to determine the question flow and detect job applicants who meet company expectations.
When selecting the future CEO, it’s not enough only to look for technical abilities and soft skills. Go beyond the elementary aspects to find well-rounded candidates who could be stellar executives.
Interviews with executive candidates are a challenge even for the most experienced recruiters, especially if they don’t have a vision of what makes a great CEO. According to an SHRM report, executive selection boards and staffing directors typically look for characteristics similar to their own, using attributes from previous searches or relying on instinct and intuition.
Yet, that can result in disastrous aftermaths because it’s essential to select candidates who match the current imperatives of the company. CEO accounts for 45 percent of an organization’s performance.
Hence, profound scrutiny in choosing the most compatible candidates isn’t only understanding but mandatory. But how can an interview reveal which individual comes closest to what a company needs?
First, remove gut feelings, instincts, and prejudices from the selection process. Rely strictly on facts, behaviors, and skills one can prove.
For instance, SHRM identifies four categories of executive attributes:
However, SHRM also notes that today’s ever-changing world requires a new kind of executive – the one who can balance multiple roles and possess behavioral complexity. Because of that, interviews with executive candidates should focus on absorptive capacity, ability to change, and managerial wisdom.
Another quality a stellar CEO should possess is to work well across cultures because that could become essential in the future.
McKinsey also conducted a study to identify what makes an excellent executive mindset. The results have shown that well-rounded CEOs have a bold corporate strategy and reframe the reference point for success.
Moreover, they think systematically about their people, put team dynamics ahead of mechanics, help the company board create long-term value, and act on a corporate purpose while also thinking about how it benefits society.
Keep these in mind when creating a set of questions for the interview with CEO candidates. Ensure that you cover various categories that help you understand their qualities, behavioral traits, and whether they could achieve success in this position.
Here are the best questions you can ask executive candidates during an interview.
Initial Integration in the Company
Accelerating Business Expansion
Fostering Leadership Skills
Managing Finances and Budget
Tracking and Measuring Key Metrics
Choosing Top Talents
Bonding with the Team
Work Across Cultures
Technology and Innovation
Identifying a CEO among many candidates is one of the most challenging tasks any hiring manager could have. This decision can determine your company's future, making it crucial to prepare for the interview thoroughly.
That includes making a list of comprehensive questions that can point to what job applicant has the necessary technical abilities and soft skills. But you don't need to do this alone.
JB Hired can help you find world-class talents thanks to their in-depth understanding of profiling and network of CEOs. Being recognized as the leading headhunting agency in the tech industry, JB Hired has access to the largest global database of tech talents.
Whether you are a large organization undergoing a digital transformation or a fast-growing tech company or simply trying to fill a challenging role, our experience and active headhunting approach guarantees you will get the best candidates in the market!
Reach out to our consultants for more information on how we can support finding your next best hire.