Trouble at the top

Trouble at the top

Employment & HR

Prateek Srivastava

Prateek Srivastava

373 week ago — 4 min read

C-suite appointments remain a challenge and a gamble. When hiring for the C-suite, the challenge remains in recruiting a new leader who will be the face of the business. It involves finding a passionate individual who can strategically lead the business through the digital age, as leaders are no longer just figureheads at functions and conferences. A company’s reputation can be damaged with an inappropriate mobile image, false CV or by the click of a mouse.


Despite the high stakes, organisations tend to opt for sub-par screening at the C-suite level. They willingly gamble the company’s name and status. A recent survey conducted at UK’s largest organisations revealed that more than half of them do not conduct appropriate leadership due diligence.


• 19% of corporate frauds are committed by the owners/executives.
• Over half of the companies fail to carry out essential checks before hiring new members to the board.
• Only one in four companies always independently verify the true background of new CEOs.
• The average median loss of a fraud by a board member is GBP 384,000.
• Almost one in three high-profile individuals go unchecked


Thus, the stakes tend to be far higher when a company searches for a new board member. The financial investment that a company makes for board level hiring is quite sizeable and minimal or no screening puts this investment in jeopardy. C-suite candidates step into positions that carry enormous power and responsibility; their influence on the overall well being of the company cannot be underestimated.


Right from the interview phase to onboarding, C-suite applicants are not screened. In fact, many HRs state that they hire on the basis of “gut instinct” and elaborate lists of “connections”. Moreover, if these applicants are screened, the checks are inconsistent. Furthermore, recruiters rush through the screening process as they are under pressure to fill board-level positions.


In this regard, companies need to become adept at utilising a combination of automation and human investigation during the recruitment process. Human Resources today need to gather intelligence from the internet and social media sites to tailor candidate interview questions - this moves beyond simplistic leadership due diligence. Testing, shortlisting and eliminating C-suite candidates at the interview stage is a step towards safeguarding organisational power positions.


Additionally, the behavioural competency technique is widely practised for board appointments. It focuses on discovering how an applicant acted in specific employment-related situations. This helps employers to dig deeper into the candidate’s capabilities and move beyond surface-level conversation. Talking about negative experiences and learnings can help the interviewer in identifying the leadership attitude of the applicant.


Ironically, a graduate undergoes more tests and interviews than a leader, i.e. employees that pose far less threat to a company than its head are put under more scrutiny. The cumulative effect is that connections win half of senior positions. However, organisations should not forget that with the position of enormous power comes the opportunity to make destructive company decisions. Consequently, a C-suite appointment cannot be limited to background screening but rather, should undergo leadership due diligence which is comprehensive and imperative.



Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, official policy or position of GlobalLinker.

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Prateek Srivastava

Prateek Srivastava, a post-graduate from Middlesex University is a Business intelligence specialist skilled in accessing the latest methods of pre-investment investigations....