Case Study: Hiring a New CEO

Categories: News

One of the most important activities your board and senior management may undertake is the hiring of senior leadership. If you hire the wrong person, especially the CEO, it can have catastrophic consequences for your organization. Best practice is for an organization to go through a formal recruiting process to assure the right candidate is hired. We recently helped a local nonprofit through that process.

JVS Career Services was contracted by the Board of Directors of a nonprofit agency that provides professional social services to families and individuals in times of need, to recruit for their next CEO. The departing CEO had been with the agency for 19 years, had been CEO for the past 11 years, and had strong relationships with the staff and local community.

Before we started the search, we knew it was important to understand exactly what the agency was looking for in a new CEO. The JVS Career Services recruiting team met with the agency’s board and discussed the responsibilities, challenges, and opportunities the new CEO would be facing. Candidates have different strengths and weaknesses, so we asked the board to prioritize the areas of expertise attractive candidates must have versus strengths that would be nice for candidates to have. As we were working with the board, we also learned a lot about the culture of the agency. Culture fit is very important in making a hiring decision!

Once we understood what we were looking for, our recruiting team started sourcing candidates.  While we posted the position on various job boards, we also sought out potential applicants. An organization is not going to get the best candidate pool by waiting for people to apply for a job. The JVS Career Services team networked with people, reaching out to passive candidates. A passive candidate is a person who isn’t looking for a new position.

We developed interview questions to qualify candidates and presented the top candidates to the agency’s Board for review. In this situation, the hiring committee members had experience interviewing candidates for senior positions, but this is not always the case. In those situations, JVS Career Services educates the hiring committee on interviewing techniques.

The top candidates went through a number of interviews, including video interviews and face-to-face interviews, to determine how well their background and experiences met the qualifications needed in the position. Final candidates were given an assessment to help determine how their competencies matched the requirements for the role. We don’t recommend making a hiring decision solely on an assessment, but it is a good tool to use, in combination with others, to make sure a candidate will be successful in the position. It is also a great tool to help develop a coaching plan for the newly hired executive.

The next time you hire a new executive, use this proven recruiting process and consider using an outside recruiting agency. The dollars spent using the agency will help assure you hire the best, most qualified candidate for the position.