What headhunters look for in a chief executive

Executive recruiters are more interested in your background and references than prior performance, according to a study by the LSE.

by Jack Torrance

If you’re a former chief executive who was shown the door after a run of bad results then you can breathe a sigh of relief. Headhunters on the search for a new CEO are more interested in your personal background than in prior performance, according to an academic study published today.

Researchers at the London School of Economics interviewed senior execs at 10 British and international executive search firms in a bid to determine what they look for in a top dog. Their research found that headhunters dont's spend a lot of time trying to determine past performance. 

That's partly because it’s too difficult to distinguish between how well an executive has done personally, and how well their company has performed. Some businesses couldn’t be saved by the most accomplished of operators, but others will trundle along happily with a fool at the helm. 

Sign in to continue

Sign in

Trouble signing in?

Reset password: Click here

Email: mtsupport@haymarket.com

Call: 020 8267 8121



  • Up to 3 free articles every 90 days
  • Free email bulletins

Register Now

Take a free trial

Get 30 days unrestricted access to:

  • All the latest news, trends, and developments.
  • Exclusive interviews with CEOs and thought-leaders
  • MT Classroom - giving you an academic grounding without expensive courses
  • Management Matters and other in-depth content.
  • Daily bulletins straight to your inbox

Take a free trial today