Assessing “Executive Intelligence”

Take a look at HBS’s Working Knowledge, Hiring for Executive Intelligence. Some quotes that rocked my world:

IQ test questions don’t assess the practical, on-your-feet thinking skills needed in business. What’s more, these tests have been repeatedly accused of racial and gender bias. Yet, despite these very real shortcomings, IQ tests are still a better predictor of managerial success than any other assessment tool. [HUH??? –JR]Because each question in the behavioral interview essentially assesses the same qualities, there’s no need for the grueling three-to-four-hour sessions favored by hiring managers today. They need only ask enough questions to get a reliable appraisal of the candidate’s work experience, job knowledge, and social skills. [Excuse me, but that’s not been my experience –JR]Despite their advantages, behavioral interviews really only establish a candidate’s minimum qualifications; they don’t identify star talent. [Of course behavior-descriptions are not enough by themselves. –JR]

The article goes on to say …tests should focus on the particular cognitive subjects associated with executive work: accomplishing tasks, working with and through others, and judging oneself.

Ok, so now the good folks who publish in HBR agree that auditions are key to evaluating an executive’s potential for a position. The example they use is actually a good example.

Auditions for senior management are harder to develop than auditions for technical staff and first- and mid-level managers, but they are certainly not impossible. Any audition that requires the exec to disclose the questions he/she has about the circumstances and leading to a decision and the ability to make a decision is useful. Executive auditions do look more like case studies and need to be evaluated that way.

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