November 10, 2016 Emily Lierle

CEO Search Committee Best Practices

ceo search committee best practices

These CEO search committee best practices will help guide you toward a positive decision for your whole organization. Whether it means diversity of opinions, a solid interview process, an investment of time, or other factors—the pieces will come together to foster a sturdy, successful CEO search committee.

Follow these principles when a search committee looks for a CEO.

CEO Search Committee Best Practices

Great People

The committee has an important role. Thus, the first step is to ensure that those selected for the committee are truly invested and willing to dedicate their time, talents, and resources.

Diversity of Opinions

Make sure you have diversity on the committee—more specifically, diversity of thought.

You don’t want a bunch of ‘yes’ people following the lead of one person. Rather, you want to encourage a robust conversation around what each search committee member’s vision for success of the role looks like. Some of that may be very similar, but oftentimes, asking the right questions and allowing everybody an opportunity to share their perspective prove critical elements.

The diversity of thought on a search committee can lead to a phenomenal outcome, where you have peers who might see things a little bit differently. The power often lies within the differences. You can build a much more holistic position profile, and a better informed one, than if you were just taking the advice from one person.

Solid Interview Process

One of the best CEO search committee best practices involves the interview process. Once you start interviewing candidates, the search committee must very deliberately provide each member participating in the interview process a set of assigned questions. Each committee member should focus on a different aspect of the candidate, whether it be purpose, values alignment, expertise or leadership style.

Every search committee member should also have predetermined set of questions that they are armed and ready to ask so that the interview experience is well choreographed. Furthermore, those questions should be consistent for each candidate, so that everyone is measured by the same measuring stick.

Investment of Time

The time investment can have various interpretations. Often, if you are elected, nominated or you volunteer for the committee, nobody from the committee does the actual searching. They help set up the search, and then participate in the interview process once the team narrows down the final candidates.

It takes time to compile a thorough list of places to look for a new leader. Plus, it takes time to pinpoint the qualities to look for in a new CEO, and designing a method for how to seek out this candidate.

It may take a time investment of 1-3 hours on the front end to properly create the position profile. In the interview process, it could call for perhaps 90-minute to two-hour interviews per candidate. It depends on how many candidates they have lined up for interviews, which varies quite a bit.

All in all, you’re probably looking at an investment of a dozen hours or so from start to finish. This number is not unreasonable—but the CEO search committee best practices take consideration and a time commitment.

Negotiating Compensation

Typically, the search committee must have a strong feeling regarding what the proper compensation level for the candidate should be. Whether or not the search committee will take part in the actual negotiation depends upon several factors. Is there a search firm involved? Or does the company enlist their own recruiting department? Determining each person’s role in the process is one of the top CEO search committee best practices.

What other CEO search committee best practices would you add? Let us know!


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