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The Culture Club

Selecting the Best Candidate Lead—A Human Resources Perspective

Michael Rosenberg
Contributor: Michael Rosenberg
Posted: 09/04/2008

There are two candidates for a very senior position within the organization. Both are young, articulate, intelligent, ambitious people. Both present well and have engaging personalities. Candidate A is slightly older than Candidate B but they are close to the same age. As a talent management professional, which one would you select based on experience for the job?

Candidate A

Candidate A has a post-graduate degree from an Ivy League school. After school A moved to a large metropolitan area where he did work for a small not-for-profit organization. While there, A made a number of very good contacts because he was well regarded within his community and was identified as a rising star. He later joined a larger organization that was very powerful and political but had a reputation as being "ethically-challenged." A took a middle management position there and was again identified as a rising star. In his eight years on that job, he did not create any significant achievements, preferring to keep his head low and work within the system.A gained a reputation as a consensus builder; however, he energized his staff and motivated those around him in a remarkable way and was shown to be an amazing organizer and strategic thinker.

After a few years in the middle management position, A took on a senior role within an even larger institution. Almost from day one he let it be known that he wanted the top job. After two years in his new job, on a number of interests within the company and worked to clean it up, and, more often than not, she challenged her own Board of Directors and gave senior positions to people from competing firms. Although she was the youngest CEO and has only been there a very short time (less than three years), B has become the most popular CEO the company ever had.A applied for the senior role. He went through a series of grueling interviews, which he handled well. He beat out several more experienced candidates in the interview process to be short-listed for the CEO job, using his superior organizational and communications skills to sway the interviewers to his side.

Candidate B

Candidate B is very different from Candidate A in a number of ways. She graduated from a small state school and only earned an undergraduate degree; she then moved to a small town. B had her own business and then was offered an opportunity to run a small firm where she developed a reputation as a tough-minded individual who often clashed with some of the senior management, but she was popular among the organization’s stakeholders for her principled stands. She then joined a medium-sized firm and, even though it seemed like a career-limiting move, took on the senior management over their ethical shortcomings. Because of her popularity with their stakeholders, they tried to move her to an area of the company where she could be "neutralized." Instead, she used his position to further challenge senior management within her organization over their unethical behavior. Eventually she ended up as CEO of the company. In two years B took

Which candidate is more experienced? Which one is more qualified for the job? The answer, of course, is that you could make a good case for either candidate. Although Candidate B does have more executive experience than Candidate A, their experience is roughly equal. Who are these people?

Candidate A is Sen. Barrack Obama, who is applying for the job as president of the United States. Candidate B is Gov. Sarah Palin, who is applying for the job as vice president.

As any HR professional knows—especially those who believe in behavioral interviewing—past accomplishments indicate future performance. What you do is given greater weight than what you say. Each person brings a different skill set and belief system to the job that he or she is applying for, which should be a determining factor about who you would select for the job.

Michael Rosenberg
Contributor: Michael Rosenberg
Posted: 09/04/2008