Accurately predicting which candidate will succeed (or fail) in a senior leadership role presents challenges for many boards and leadership teams when making executive hiring decisions.
What makes these high-stakes decisions so challenging? In a recent How I Hire Podcast interview, Stacey Philpot PsyD stated, “Interviews are notoriously ineffective at providing accurate data on a candidate. Often it is because we don’t actually have a common, universal definition of leadership and that makes it hard to make an objective hiring decision. Then you add on cultural biases around perceptions of leadership, not to mention demographic differences or just people’s own experience. And you know, there’s not a lot of commonality. So it’s not a surprise that we don’t do a great job of hiring leaders – we don’t exactly know what we’re looking for, if you will.”
Dr. Philpot also shared ideas for how companies can use better data to improve the hiring process. “Enhancing your interview process to ensure a more comprehensive and consistent approach increases the objectivity and accuracy of your decision. Things like giving people a protocol of asking the same questions for every candidate, ensuring the setting is similar, and being consistent with post interview debriefs to collect data.Blinding resumes, removing gendered language from job descriptions or increasing the diversity of interviewers have also been shown to moderate unconscious bias.” She added, “Many companies are also finding value in using external assessors and validated leadership assessment tools.” For internal candidate evaluations, even more data can be collected from a variety of sources such as 360 reviews.”
So, what are the three things that hiring executives should do with this information as they start to rehire and reset their leadership teams post COVID-19? “First, get really clear on the type of leadership you need in the role. Don’t assume that what worked before is still what is needed and force people to have the conversation about how the business is changing. Second, be clear and specific about what data you’re using to make decisions. Third, look for hidden gems when promoting internally. I am struck by how many CEOs say they don’t have line of sight to who their high potential people are. They know intuitively that they don’t have good visibility to their talent. And they’re frustrated that they can’t access that talent.”