How to Hire a CEO with an AI-Powered Jobs Portal

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Finding the right CEO, either as a replacement or a succession, is one of the most important responsibilities of any board of directors. There is both an art and a science to it.   

The CEO is pivotal to a company’s success. However, any healthy company will go through many CEOs in their lifetime. What’s important for the board of directors, rather than simply hiring the right CEO, is to create and implement a reliable process for hiring CEOs that will be useful not only for the present hire but for all future CEO hires as well.

In this short article, we’ll take a look at the key steps to hiring a CEO. And we’ll take a look at how artificial intelligence-powered jobs portals like Lensa can help make the process easier, faster, and ultimately more effective.

Identify the Skills, Qualifications, Background, and Profile

The old adage ‘knowing is half the battle’ applies to many processes and finding the right CEO is no exception. Half the battle of hiring a CEO lies in determining exactly what kind of CEO would best serve the current and future needs of your company.

Maryville University qualifies the skills that make a great CEO as being largely interpersonal. These interpersonal skills consist mainly of communication, leadership, task delegation, and team problem-solving. However, the list remains relatively vague and difficult to quantify.

The CEO is the head of the company and represents both the individuals and the entity that is the brand. Therefore, the CEO’s background will go a long way toward gaining the trust and confidence of the employees and the board of directors.

The attributes of a good CEO often appear as direct opposites. He or she is an optimist. He or she is a realist. He or she is a risk-taker. He or she is prudent. He or she is innovative. He or she is reverential of tradition.

There is no one profile that describes the perfect CEO for all companies. It is the role of the board of directors to identify to what degree the CEO should possess and express these opposing attributes. 

Only once the skills, qualifications, background, and profile of the CEO have been clearly defined can the process of finding the right candidate begin.

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Fit

From the short-listed candidates that meet your predetermined criteria, the interview process will help determine if they are the right fit. The goal is not to determine who is the best leader but to determine who is the best fit. 

Do the candidates fall into one of the four types of leadership in business

Which ones correspond best to the type of leadership that is right for your company and best suited to face the specific challenges and circumstances that are unique to it? 

How Artificial Intelligence Portals Like Lensa Can Help 

Online job portals, such as Lensa, use machine learning to analyze millions of CVs and job offers. From these sources, the artificial intelligence (AI) system identifies patterns and common threads among successful business leaders.

Free of hiring bias (or diminished chances of hiring bias), AI systems can prove to be a valuable resource in defining the skills, qualifications, background, and profile of the ideal CEO.

Select the Search Leaders and Define Their Parameters

Finding the right CEO should be a team effort. However, just as with any team, it will need a leader (or leaders) and parameters within which they will be expected to operate.

In the best-case scenario, search leadership will emerge organically with those board members who have earned the trust and respect of their peers. In many instances are already committee directors or former CEOs themselves.

According to Harvard Business Review, in these instances, other board members welcome the emergence of leadership from their peers while they add “objectivity through their questions and comments.” and they welcome the emergence of leadership from their peers while they add

Defining the parameters of how the process will be carried out should also, naturally, be a team effort. When everyone is clear on the expectations and the methodology, that goes a long way toward eliminating micromanaging and reducing the chances of unpleasant surprises, the problem of too many cooks in the kitchen, or a single individual overstepping his or her bounds.

These parameters could include what if any, executive search agencies to use, what social and professional networks to explore, and how many candidates should the short-list be comprised of.

Writing the CEO Job Offer and Description

Even if you plan to find your candidates through referrals or through an executive search agency, you will need to write a clear, concise, and compelling job offer as well as a clear, concise, and compelling job description.

The job description forms part of a legally binding contract. It enumerates the expectations and responsibilities the employer has for the employee, or in this case, that the board has for the CEO. The job description serves as the framework for the job offer, which is more concise and meant to appeal to prospective candidates.

To get a more precise idea of what should go into a job description and a job offer, check out Monster’s CEO job description template.

How Artificial Intelligence Portals Like Lensa Can Help

The overwhelming majority of users of online job portals, such as Lensa, take advantage of AI-powered search engines to help them find the position and company that is the right fit. This means that your job offer must contain keywords and phrases that correspond to what your target prospective candidates are searching for.

AI systems can help you better target and filter your job offer. This will serve two valuable purposes. Firstly, you will save time on having to go through scores of responses from candidates who don’t correspond with what you’re looking for. Secondly, you will greatly increase your chances of finding a successful match, which is, after all, the main objective.

Follow Up on References

Candidates are thoroughly vetted before being offered a role as important as CEO. Candidates can be expected to help in the vetting process by providing references and referrals. Following up on these references should be done prior to the interviews. It is likely that you will acquire information during your follow-up that will inform the questions you ask during the interview.

Though headhunters and executive search agencies are expected to have vetted their clients, it would be irresponsible for the company not to undertake their own thorough background and reference check. 

Interviewing the Candidate

It is during the interview that you will gain deeper insights into the candidate. According to Robert Half Talent Solutions, the core areas of exploration should center around “leadership, strategy, vision, execution, and growth” as well as the “less tangible success factors like passion, energy, conflict management, and cultural fit.”

Interviewing a CEO is fundamentally different than interviewing a candidate for any other position in one significant factor: the lead. When interviewing a candidate for the position of CEO, both parties have a clear understanding of what the objectives of the interview are. And one of those objectives (if not the main one) is to determine the candidate’s ability to lead.

Whereas in an interview of a candidate for another position, the goal would be to determine the candidate’s ability to be led. Thus, it stands to reason that the interviewer would lead the interview and guide the interviewee along the process.

But to gain a better understanding of the CEO candidate’s ability to lead, the interviewer should give a lot more leeway if not outright let the candidate lead the interview. The candidate’s ability to address and answer all the relevant points without being prompted or guided to do so should be a good indication of how well they would fulfill their role as CEO of your company. 

To a large extent, then, interviewing candidates for the position is quite easy as the candidate will be doing most of the heavy lifting. This shouldn’t, though, lull interviewers into the false sense that the interview process is any less important.


Replacing or hiring your first CEO is one of the most important responsibilities of the board of directors. The good news is that there are resources available to help you. AI-powered job portals such as Lensa can be an invaluable tool in determining the right profile for your CEO candidates and then helping you find them. For a better chance of long-term success, incorporate as many people’s feedback and opinions in the process of hiring a CEO. But make sure to clearly establish the decision-makers of the process and the parameters and methodology they will work with.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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