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CEO Recruitment…an African experience

23 January 2013

± minute read

    CEO Recruitment…an African experience
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A JvR Consulting Psychologists case study

1. Setting the scene

During June 2012 JvRC participated in the tender process for the recruitment of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for The Metolong Authority in Maseru, Lesotho. The Metolong Authority (MA) reports into the Ministry of Natural Resources, and launched the Metolong Programme in 2009 with the aim of implementing the Metolong Dam and Water Supply Programme (MDWSP) in order to increase access to safe water supply and support economic growth in Lesotho. As such a dam and pipeline is being built to provide fresh water to a large part of the population of Lesotho. The Programme is funded by 5 main stakeholders, including the World Bank. JvRC was awarded the tender and undertook the recruitment process which started in August 2012. MA appointed a task team consisting of Board members and Executive leaders across the industry within Lesotho, who reported directly to the MA Board. All decisions relating to the role were to be taken by the Board. This project – which was quite generic from a methodological and process perspective – required a different approach due to the scope of the macro environmental landscape. The following factors needed to be on top of mind during the process:

  • The Ministry was involved as the project has a strong Government alignment;
  • The involvement of the community was seen as paramount as they are an important stakeholder in the success of the MDWSP;
  • The role of CEO requires excellent stakeholder engagement with the wide range of funders, hence their opinions would also have to be taken into account in the final decision;
  • JvRC was contracted to drive the process and make a recommendation – the final decision rested with the MA Board and the Minister.

2. The recruitment methodology

As with any recruitment process the client required a strict ethical and objective approach. As a result, after the pre-negotiation meeting and sign-off on the methodology, the following process was followed.

  • Round 1 – Shortlisting of CV’s
  • Round 2 – Interview of shortlisted candidates
  • Round 3 – Assessment of shortlisted candidates
  • Round 4 – Presentation to Chairman of the Board and MA task team

3. The recruitment process

3.1 Screening and shortlisting

JvRC designed a shortlisting template using the following information:

  • Qualitative information as discussed at the pre-negotiations meeting regarding preferred qualities of the CEO incumbent;
  • Performance documentation provided by Metolong Authority;
  • CEO role description provided by Metolong Authority; and
  • Advert for the CEO position provided by Metolong Authority.

The same template was then used to screen the CVs of the 15 applicants. Each candidate was rated on 12 role criteria, indicating whether they:

  • “Meet requirements”,
  • “meet requirements to some extent”, or
  • “does not meet requirements”

At the end of this process 5 candidates were put forth to the MA task team for consideration and the Task Team decided that 4 of the candidates would be invited for a Competency Based Interview (CBI). Of these 4 candidates, 3 were from South Africa and 1 from Lesotho.

3.2. Interview

Using the latest research and best-practice market information, a relevant, competency based interview schedule was designed to enable the interview panel to gain a holistic view of each applicant including their skills, knowledge, attributes and observed behaviour. The questions in the interview schedule were custom designed using the JvRC competency framework. The final interview pack provided to each panel member, contained the following documents:

  • Background on Competency Based interviewing as a discipline
  • Explanation of the 6 JvRC competency domains
  • Explanation of the scoring key
  • General guidelines for conducting the interview
  • Interviewing tips

From this process 3 candidates were identified to take part in the assessment process.

3.3. Assessment

With JvRC’s extensive experience in the provision of psychometric assessment services across a wide range of industries and clients, it was decided that for the position of Metolong Authority CEO, an extensive and holistic assessment battery would be used. The battery consisted of psychometric as well as non-psychometric assessments (i.e. case study and CBI). Each of the assessment tools provided quantitative and qualitative information on very specific aspects of each candidate. In combination, the assessment results provided a clear picture of a candidate’s strengths and development areas, and assisted in the final placement decision.

The following battery of assessment tools was used:

  1. Competency Based Interview (CBI): comprising a set of questions to elicit an understanding of the candidate’s actual work experiences related to specific competencies.
  2. Modified Career Path Appreciation (MCPA): measuring the candidate’s decision making process and outlines the level of complexity in which the candidate currently functions and the potential level of complexity the candidate can deal with in the future.
  3. Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI): assessing personality qualities which promote success in work, relationships and life.
  4. Hogan Development Survey (HDS): measuring patterns of interpersonal behaviour that tend to appear when a person is stressed tired or distracted.
  5. Motives, Values, Preferences Inventory (MVPI): relating to internal drivers that have a strong influence on the things that the individual enjoys and what kind of job, work and work environment the candidate will find most satisfying. It also provides insight into what kind of work environment the candidate will create when in a leadership position.
  6. Emotional Intelligence (EQ-i): referring to an array of non-cognitive abilities, competencies and skills that influence one’s ability to succeed in coping with environmental demands and pressures.
  7. Case study: measuring the ability to demonstrate sound decision making and judgment under pressure when presented with a scenario simulating organisational complexity.

4. Presentation of results

All information gathered on the candidates was collated, themed, clustered and then presented in a comparative matrix to the Chairman of the MA Board, and the MA task team. A robust and constructive dialogue process created a clear understanding of each candidate and how they will potentially fare in the role of CEO. Although a recommendation was made by JvRC – the final decision rested with the members of the panel. The project offered an exciting opportunity to be exposed to a different political, economic and social landscape. From a consulting perspective, the level of stakeholders involved and the magnitude of the implications of the appointment reiterated the importance of following sound Psychological and planning principles, as well as ensuring thorough analyses of all data sources. It also highlighted relationship-building and openness to diverse thoughts and behaviours as a key success factor in meeting client needs and maintaining a high level of professionalism in all client dealings.

For more information, please contact us on +27(0) 11 781 3705/6/7 or send an email to

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