What Qualities Do CEOs Look for When Hiring – And Do They Make Sense?

By Posted in - General HR Topics & Recruiting on June 3rd, 2015 150 Comments

Most CEO’s will acknowledge that their corporate success is due in large part to the quality of the employees that work for them. They’ve hired their teams strategically, finding the right talent to fit the right roles. It is interesting to ask these successful executives what qualities they value most in a new hire. But are these hires’ qualities further supported by scientific research and best practices in employee selection strategies?

CEO Opinions of Qualities in New Hires

Top CEOs have often shared their thoughts on the most important qualities of new hires. Here is a sample of their opinions:

Eric Schmitt, Executive Chairman of Google – “Intellectual curiosity and intelligence”

Keith Rabois, Partner at Khosia Ventures – “Being able to express complex ideas simply and see things that others do not see”

Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Group – “Being good with people and genuinely caring about people”

John Chambers, CEO of Cisco – “Biggest successes and failures and what they have learned from them”

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook – “What is your biggest problem and how can I fix it?”

Adam Bryant, a New York Times columnist, conducted interviews with more than 70 CEO’s to uncover their thoughts on the essential qualities for success. He summarized his results into five qualities:

  • Passionate curiosity
  • Battle hardened confidence
  • Team smarts
  • Simple mind set
  • Fearlessness

Does Research Support These Opinions?

There are some common themes when you examine all these qualities, and they are supported by research. Mental/analytical abilities and intellectual curiosity have long been recognized as one of the strongest predictors of job success, so it was not surprising that many CEO’s look for this quality in new hires. Mental ability tests can measure this quality with accuracy.

The value placed on past work experiences and results is also supported by research. Norm based measures of work experience have been shown to have predictive validity in making hiring decisions.

Confidence and fearlessness are personality constructs that are commonly measured in “Big Five” personality tests. These types of tests have also been proven to have predictive validity in making hiring decisions.

Other qualities such as interpersonal skills, teamwork, and problem-solving are common competencies that are reliably measured through behavioral interviews. Extensive research on behavioral interviews have shown these types of structured interviews have very high predictive validity.

Implications for Best Hiring Practices

Based on the opinions of top CEO’s and scientific research on selection methods, it would appear that organizations should make use of the following selection methods to maximize their hiring success:

  • Norm-based Mental Ability Tests
  • Norm-based Experience Tests
  • “Big Five” Personality Test
  • Behavioral Interviewing

The ideal selection system strategy would also include enabling technology to easily implement these selection methods and provide other hiring process efficiencies. OMNIview has based its FitQuest hiring solution on proven research, CEO validation, and market needs for a technology solution to making optimal hiring decisions.

To start your fitQuest™ adventure and begin using our Talent Selection and Assessment Tools, call (877) 426-6222 or email us today. Contact OMNIview to learn more about FitQuest, our unique job matching process, and how we can help you improve your hiring processes.

Patrick Hauenstein, Ph.D.

About Patrick Hauenstein, Ph.D.

Patrick Hauenstein is the President and Chief Science Officer for OMNIview. During his free time Pat likes to cook. He is particularly fond of traditional southern cuisine. Pat is also an animal lover ...
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