Back News  /  May 2014

Executive Recruitment: companies often place less value on social skills than they claim

·    Survey of managers shows that personality and social skills are given secondary  
·    Emphasis on professional experience and qualifications is exaggerated

Hamburg, 21st May 2014 – professional accomplishment, occupational qualifications and international experience are the most important criteria for evaluating managers during the recruitment process. The criteria “experience in similar company cultures” and “good ability to fit in” are consistently ranked lower, with “social skills” not being ranked higher than sixth place. This was the finding of the study “A Change of Job in Top Management” carried out by the personnel consultancy InterSearch Executive Consultants, for which 150 company directors, senior managers and division heads were interviewed.

Such one-sided selection criteria can even lead to premature separation from recently appointed managers, as demonstrated by the findings of an earlier study carried out among personnel decision makers. The results clearly show that poor leadership skills and incompatibility with the company´s culture are the most frequent causes for the failure of a professional relationship. “When recruiting, many companies still place too much emphasis on looking at a candidate´s professional experience and their career path” says Karl-Josef Mondorf, Managing Partner of InterSearch Executive Consultants. ”Although decision-makers say that they take social skills into account when they select managers, the final decision is in fact based primarily on hard factors such as professional qualifications. At the end of the day, this just seems more straightforward, especially in the absence of suitable diagnostic tools which can be used to reach a realistic assessment of a candidate´s personality profile and leadership style”.

A candidate´s personality profile should be compatible with the company culture

Personality profile and social skills should be the deciding factors in assessing a candidates potential to fit into the new company´s culture – and as such, they are the key factors for successful and sustainable recruitment. “A candidate´s professional expertise and the length of their career will reveal little about their capacity for leadership or integration in a new company environment. Both aspects are, however, important prerequisites for a manager´s long term success” says Mondorf.

A further finding of the InterSearch study is that one third of the managers who were interviewed did not feel that their social skill-set was a good match to the actual requirements of their new position. An equal number of managers was forced to concede that, in terms of their personality, they did not fit into their new company at all. “The hard factors such as professional qualifications and experience can only lead to long term success when there is also a good match between the candidate´s personality profile and the company culture”, according to Mondorf. The expert recommends that companies should professionalize their recruitment process through a structured and consistent approach which includes the application of diagnostic instruments.

Background Information

For the study “A Change of Job in Top Management”, 150 interviews were carried out with company directors, senior- and middle-managers. Respondents were asked online about the likelihood of a job change, which aspects of a change are most important for them, and how they experience the recruitment process. The respondents came from companies with upwards of 100 employees in the Trade, Service and Industrial sectors.

About InterSearch Executive Consultants

We specialize in the recruitment of managers and the systematic analysis of management potential with a focus on the “Mittelstand” – medium sized national and international organizations. The company was founded in 1985 under the name “MR Personnel Consultancy” and has offices in Hamburg, Frankfurt and Munich with over 30 employees. Today InterSearch Executive Consultants belongs to the international InterSearch network with more than 100 offices in over 50 countries.


Press contact: Thomas Bockholdt   Tel.: +49 40 46 88 42 0