How to Find a Company CEO

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Finding a company CEO is no less than an uphill task. After all, the company’s future is at stake. Clear guidelines, detailed job description and rigorous screening and interviewing are a few steps that will make the process simpler. Before the search for company CEO begins, clearly spell out the skills that are most critical to the company’s success.

Establish clear guidelines for the selection of a company CEO. These policies should be in line with the company’s ultimate goals and objectives.

Define the skills deemed most important to the position. Does the company need someone with strong managerial and technical skills? Or are you in need of someone who is adept at building strong investor relations? Do you need a financial expert to improve the company’s financial standing and stock value? All-rounders do exist, but it can be quite difficult to find someone who is equally proficient in just about every trade. So it’s better to lay out the skills most critical to the job.

Chart out a thorough job description, clearly stating the skills and experience you’re looking for in the ideal candidate. Also mention the job responsibilities of the CEO.

Advertise internally and externally. Many companies have a policy to promote from within. For crucial positions, such as CEO, look for potential candidates both from within the organization as well as outside.

Have an independent body, such as a Board of Directors, consider the candidates’ applications. One or two directors may be appointed for the task of application screening.

Conduct background checks to investigate the past performance of the candidates. According to Betsy S. Atkins, CEO of a venture capital firm, while it may be helpful to rely on executive search firms that specialize in these tasks, it is also important for directors to make some background checks on their own to confirm the facts stated in the applicants' documents. (See References 1)

Establish a panel for conducting the interviews. Again, the panel should constitute independent bodies for an unbiased decision that serves in the best interest of the organization. The panel should ideally consist of experts who are qualified enough to test the candidates in their respective fields. For instance, a financial expert may ask questions related to financial planning. Likewise, an experienced psychologist may gauge the mental abilities and attitude of the candidates with the help of IQ tests.

Conduct formal as well as informal interviews. Whereas formal interviews and presentations give a thorough insight into the candidate’s professional standing, informal interviews and gatherings give the interviewers an opportunity to consider other qualities, such as their personal behaviors and people skills. As Betsy Atkins writes, “After all, leadership is a collection of personal behaviors, political and people skills and judgment--and much of that is typically suppressed in formal settings.” (See References 1)

Conduct a second interview if the panel still finds it difficult to arrive at a decision or if there is a close tie between any of the candidates.


  • Establish a CEO selection booklet to cover all of the policies and criteria while looking for a CEO. Distribute the booklet among the panel conducting the interviews so they know what to look for in the candidates.

    Start looking for a new CEO almost one year prior to replacing the current one.