Recruiting Blog

Yahoo’s Scott Thompson Fiasco Proves: NEED FOR THOROUGH BACKGROUND INVESTIGATIONS!

World-renowned executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles committed a major blunder when not fully vetting Scott Thompson before presenting him as a CEO candidate for Yahoo. In fact, they never uncovered Thompson’s falsified educational credentials! Instead, it was activist shareholder Daniel Loeb, whose hedge fund Third Point controls 6% of Yahoo’s stock, who discovered that Stonehill College didn’t even offer a computer science degree until four years after Thompson graduated. This raises a lot of questions about Heidrick & Struggles quality of work including: 1) Why did it take until 4 months after Mr. Thompson started to unearth this falsehood? And 2) Why didn’t Heidrick & Struggles discover this misstep themselves as part of their background investigation?

This spotlights the need for our main mantra, being thorough. As part of our extensive background investigations we check criminal records, civil records (e.g. bankruptcies), educational credentials and references. Our private investigator, who is an ex-FBI agent, doesn’t just rely upon mass databases, which are often outdated and riddled with errors. Instead, he digs deep by going to directly to the courthouses where key information is housed. He takes this extra care because past behavior is the best predictor of future missteps. We have even trademarked our unique process, which is called Accu-Check™. Please go to http://www.strategicsearch.com/accucheck.php to learn more.

This thoroughness has paid off many times over including during our recent search for a CEO of a venture-backed nanosensor company. During the vetting process we unearthed several DUI’s with one of the top candidates. Though he adamantly denied the infractions, I repeatedly quizzed him about this (Key: I learned from my investigator to ask and restate the same question in a variety of ways in order to “trip up” candidates). One version of my questioning was, “why would you agree to pay fines and do community service if you were not guilty of this infraction?” He folded under repeated questioning. As a result, my client was saved from the trauma of misinformation.


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