Executive Selection

Helping organizations manage the high stakes process (for both company and candidate) of senior level hiring.

Business Imperative

Businesses, at least when they are diversifying, need to hire senior level talent from the outside. Given the fact that organizations form strong cultures, and that senior level managers have strong convictions (we wish to hire them partly for having some of those strong convictions), making the role-fit and the relationship work are challenging and crucial.

Typical Intervention Process

Working in this area, first of all, requires comfort and familiarity with the senior leadership team of the organization.

Typically, the client engagement process starts much earlier than the hiring stage, in defining the job description and reporting relationships. This is when apprehensions and doubts of other senior leaders typically emerge. These need to be dealt with sensitively. Clarifying decision roles in the hiring process is part of this step.

The process of obtaining appropriate resumes commences around this time. Typically, there are other friends and advisers of the senior leaders who refer specific people for the position. One needs to be constantly watchful that these referred candidates just stay so – neither favored nor dis-favored.

Deciding the selection process steps is an area where we typically have greater leeway. Based on initial diagnostics regarding the role and context, we typically go for a combination of psychometrics and work challenge simulations, other than the round of interviews.

We also carry out reference checks on shortlisted candidates. Identifying whom to obtain references from is a decision on which some attention needs to be paid. Typically, the candidates’ stated references are not convincing enough. In today’s networked world, locating other people who are likely to know the person well is not a challenge any more. However, professionalism demands that we preserve the candidate’s confidentiality.

In the end, the process of arriving at the decision of whom to hire, in our experience, is a good example of the difference between ‘decisions making’ versus ‘decision taking’. A large part of the attention is devoted to creating credible options, so that the pressure on the final selection decision is minimized.

Protecting confidentiality of and for the candidates, besides handling them with complete professionalism are other crucial elements in this entire journey.

The journey is not completed with the hire. It is important to ensure smooth induction of the person into the senior leadership of the company. This too calls for sensitive handling, spread over, typically, a few weeks.


The outcomes for the business can be dramatic, if the process achieves its objectives. The right person in a role can immediately inspire self and others around into galvanized actions to achieve envisaged goals.


Hiring at senior levels where people impact business results is a high stakes activity – both, for the candidate and the organization. The small talent pool from which such selection is to be made and the exclusivity of the people involved in the process makes it imperative that to increase the chances of appropriate selection, each step of the process be handled thoughtfully.

Case Studies

At a family-owned and managed client that was seeking to professionalize its senior leadership team, such decisions were being taken with considerable diffidence. We began by clarifying the structure to be, spelling out the roles and responsibilities of each position in detail. We then created buy-in of the process that would be followed to reach the hire decision. The decided process was followed. This included one online psychometric instrument, multiple rounds of interviews with specific, defined agendas for each interview, and reference checks with those provided by the candidates as well as with others whom we identified based on their work histories. We developed specific scenarios and probes to be used to assess the candidates. The consequence was a smooth, professionally managed hiring process that in itself played a considerable role in convincing candidates of the professional standards of the organization, and led to satisfactory closure of the vacancy within the expected time frame. The subsequent process of gradual transitioning of responsibilities from family member to professional had to be managed closely and sensitively, so as to not become conflict-riven.

Thought Leadership

On Minimum Government, Maximum Governance
Mr. Murthy’s shopping list of leadership qualities for the Infosys CEO-to-be
What should the Head Office of a conglomerate busy itself with?

Newsletter Subscription


Email: listeningpost@greentreelearning.com