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Recruiter brands chief exec search 'daft'


The recruitment process for chief executives is “daft” and results in the wrong person being appointed, a senior recruiter has warned.

The use of short, single interviews conducted by a panel does not allow people to show the breadth of their skills, according to Hamish Davidson.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Association of Council Secretaries and Solicitors (ACSeS), Mr Davidson called for something more like the private sector’s method of multiple informal meetings rather than the single panel interview which could sometimes be as short as 40 minutes.

“It is a truly daft way to appoint and that is the reason we get so many mistakes,” the former Rockpools, Veredus and PricewaterhouseCoopers consultant said.

Although the private sector way of doing things could often take much longer, as much as six or nine months, Mr Davidson said he would like to see a compromise between the two and called for local government to use initial screening interviews.

He also criticised the way employers often failed to actually contact the references provided by candidates.

The panel system was also problematic, he added, because it sometimes created “a lowest common denominator” effect which meant “they didn’t make an inspired appointment”.


Readers' comments (5)

  • It is amazing how the private sector can always do it better than the public sector - perhaps that is why the economy is in such a healthy position - or is it just that they can talk it better?

    PKD (Private Sector)

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  • That's right Patrick, thanks to the private sector doing things their way (greed based) and the bankers in particular who epitomise the private sector gravy train, the country is in the worst recession of living memory. That's just what we need in the public sector!!!

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  • On the other hand, Hamish does have a track record of recruiting good people for the public sector, and has a point.

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  • Well in my opinion - having worked in the RSL (third sector), civil service, private sector and having now been a consultant in the public sector for 10 years, the sooner we all start to recognise the huge potential similarities rather than the tiny differences between the various sectors the better ! Whilst we all recognise there is no one size fits all panacea, neither should be afraid of the other and we should all be acknowledging that what generally works well in one sector is likely to be sufficiently adaptable and manageable to function well and deliver results in any other sector. I think de Bono, Peters and even Cameron would probably call something complex like "good management". As ever good management comes down to individuals, alone, in teams and in partnerships and to the skills they have in developing relationships to deliver results in context for that organisation - regardless of the sector. Let's pull ourselves together and allow evolution and empowerment!

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  • Roger

    I think this change in the way of doing business will come about through necessity rather than somebody’s good idea. Many local government organisations are seeking to share the most senior posts, the need to rush in to appointing a replacement CX will reduce significantly, because his or her role of day to day, micro managing the organisation will have effectively disappeared. A CX cannot be in 2,3,4 places at once and will therefore inevitably become much more of a strategic role, with senior managers taking the day to day decisions that currently cross the CXs desk.

    Added to this, there will now be more than one ‘employer’ involved in the selection process. Expecting, two, three or even possibly four people from completely different organisations to make a decision based on one interview is unlikely to produce the required result.

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