Managing Partner Shelly Weiss Storbeck talks about successful interviewing of executive-level candidates in a new book by Emmy Award-winning journalist Frank Sesno, titled Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions, and Spark Change (2017).
"I'd met Shelly years before when I was a candidate in a search," Sesno says. "She is a keen judge of character and a realist about what it takes to be a leader in academia, where every stakeholder needs to be heard." Like Storbeck, Sesno understands the challenges facing leaders in higher education. "Change is difficult when tenured faculty, defiant students, helicopter parents, and tradition-loving alumni have a say. There can be as many constiutencies on campus as there are in a good-sized city."
Sesno describes the process by which Storbeck leads potential candidates through multiple rounds of questioning in the first screening before recommending them to the next phase of the search. "Shelly cuts right to the chase," he notes admiringly. "She asks for specifics." Later in the process, "If red flags have come up through reference checks, Shelly ask about those, too. She asks artfully, seeking candor and reflection rather than defensiveness or evasion." Storbeck herself adds, "Self-awareness is essential to being a successful leader."
A former anchor, White House Correspondent, and talk show host on CNN, Frank Sesno has interviewed heads of state including five U.S. Presidents and many other influential figures such as Bill Gates, Benyamin Netanyahu, Condoleezza Rice, Anderson Cooper, Karl Rove, Hillary Clinton, and Colin Powell. He has interviewed scientists, celebrities, and best-selling authors along with leaders from a wide range of industries.
Sesno currently serves as Director of The George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, where he teaches The Art of the Interview in addition to classes on journalism ethics, documentary, and sustainability reporting.