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Interviewing at the Executive Level

The following true story illustrates a pattern that is repeated frequently across all types of organizations:

The CEO of a large multi-division company was talking about a candidate he had interviewed for the position of Divisional President:"I met George Smith (not his real name), and he wasn't very impressive. I have had a lot of experience sizing up people over the years, and I don't think he has what it takes to build a company."

Ultimately the CEO decided to promote an inside employee from another division to the position. Unfortunately that person did not work out, and was later demoted. In the meantime, George Smith was hired by a competitor. During the next five years he multiplied both the sales and the profits of his new employer many fold.

Why did the CEO, who is a great businessman and a very good judge of people, seriously misread both of these candidates? Why are mistakes like this so commonplace? With almost half of all outside executive appointments ending in a parting of ways in a few short years, can nothing be done to improve the rate of success?

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© 2005 Ray & Berndtson



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