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How to Look Behind the CV and Hire the Right Leader

Have you felt overwhelmed by the pressure to find the right leader for your business?

A leader needs to have the right skillset and get on well with the rest of the team and the wider business so hiring the right person can be a challenging task. Is a CV enough to judge whether you are making an informed decision on who to interview for a leadership role?

CVs and their Restrictions: 

A CV is the first impression you will receive of your potential candidates. It will detail their knowledge and skills, work experience, key achievements, and qualifications. However, a CV is not useful for judging future performance or to determine whether an individual possesses the leadership qualities that are crucial for the success of a business.

This is how a CV often falls short of the mark:

  • No Indication of Management Style: A CV does not portray an individual's management/leadership style. There is no way to evaluate whether they possess emotional intelligence, whether they empower their team, and whether they are collaborative, approachable, or firm. They might be able to perform the job well, but as with all leadership positions, an individual must be able to match their management style to the people they are communicating with. 

  • Difficult to Assess Strategic Thinking: Although a good indicator of past performance, a CV does not help you evaluate whether the candidate has the ability to analyse complex situations, make sound decisions, and develop a long-term goal which are qualities to look out for in any true leader.

  • Unable to Gauge Cultural Fit: With any recruitment process, it is critical to hire somebody who is a good fit culturally. However, this is especially important when it comes to executive appointments. A CV is a great indicator of a professional's skill set, but not their communication style, work ethic, or how their personality aligns with your business.

How to Look Beyond the CV:

Great leaders are the key to the success of any organisation and so hiring the best candidate for the role is crucial. To identify whether a candidate is a good fit, it is important to look beyond the CV and assess their leadership potential:

  • Conduct an Effective Interview: Reviewing CVs is the first step in the hiring process, but the interview is the best way to understand what a professional can bring to the team and whether they are the right candidate for the job. At the executive level, you must ask the right questions. You want to ensure they can discuss their approach to leading a team and a business, as well as their accomplishments and skillsets. Ask the candidate open-ended questions about past challenges and times they implemented change, making sure to assess how they led their team during those times.

  • Scenario-Based Questions: Assessing how a candidate would respond to scenario-based questions is a great interview technique for understanding their adaptability and behavioural response to a variety of situations. Not only are you ensuring they are right for the role but whether their choices align with the company values and mission.

  • Psychometric Testing: Many recruiters and hiring managers use validated psychometric assessments to understand a candidate's leadership potential. These tools measure personality traits, leadership styles, and cognitive abilities relevant to executive roles. Although it is not a deciding factor in hiring the right candidate, it can provide valuable insights into their suitability. 

  • Reference Checks: A reference check usually confirms an individual's job duties and basic competencies. However, at Chilworth Partnership we also use a reference check to understand how well a candidate may get on with their peers and whether others also view them as possessing a strategic mindset and inspiring loyalty and respect. 

  • Case Studies: Another way to understand whether a professional is fit for a leadership role is to test them with case studies that are relevant to your industry and ask them to develop solutions for them. This is especially important if they currently work in a different industry as it demonstrates their problem-solving skills.

The Benefits of Looking Beyond the CV:

When it comes to recruiting a leader, finding the best person for the job means looking beyond their CV and this is often done better in person. Inviting a candidate to interview and exploring topics such as their achievements, leadership style, and strategic mindset helps you gain a deeper understanding of their ability and cultural fit so you avoid a costly bad hire.

  • Improved Team Dynamics: Ensuring a strong cultural fit between the new executive and your existing team means continued communication, collaboration, and improved company performance.

  • Increased Retention: Executives who feel comfortable and valued in their roles are more likely to stay with the company. Understanding a candidate's true potential goes a long way in ensuring their success and long-term commitment. At Chilworth, we meet with each candidate when discussing potential opportunities with them, to ensure they are the right fit for the role and vice versa. 

CVs are vital to understanding if a candidate is suitable for a leadership position based on whether their experience aligns with the job description. However, to understand their cultural fit and leadership style, meeting them face to face is vital. It is also beneficial to consult an Executive Search Consultant who will seek out and engage leaders who possess the required expertise and will then hold an initial meeting with those leaders to discuss the opportunity in more detail, getting to understand their suitability for the business and existing team.

If you would like help with recruiting an executive appointment, contact us at