The skills required for leadership, abuse of power and the importance of interview technique are all currently in the spotlight.

This stems from the story of a young female graduate’s distressing job interview experience with a male CEO, which went viral on social media.

Posting on Twitter, 22-year-old Olivia Bland alleged that she endured a “brutal 2-hour interview” with Craig Dean, the CEO of Web Applications UK.  Claiming Dean tried “his best to intimidate and assert power over a young woman”, Bland said the experience left her tearful and humiliated.

Dean has since apologised and his company have carried out an investigation, which found “that no bullying or intimidation occurred”.

The sorry scenario raises a number of issues, chiefly around the skills required for leadership and successful job interviewing processes.

Use the best tools to get the best people

In this case, it appears that the interviewer adopted a very old-fashioned and aggressive approach designed to undermine the candidate.

This egocentric style of interviewing is a throwback to the days when employers would turn the heat up in a room or sit the interviewee in the lowest chair to make the candidate feel uncomfortable. The rationale for this was to see how a candidate might behave under pressure. But frankly it was just bad manners and a power play.

Such behaviour not only puts the company in a bad light, it’s also unproductive. If you want to hire the best people, you have to let them be the best they can be.

A more forward-thinking approach would be to use Psychometrics. To be leading-edge in your field, you need to use leading-edge tools.

Psychometrics allows you to be scientific about selecting a candidate, acquiring an understanding of the person involved with the ability to ask relevant questions. In this case, it would also be useful to carry out psychometric testing on the CEO to assess his leadership strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps more of the latter than the former.

Impact on internal culture

The next issue to consider is the impact this kind of behaviour has on internal culture. In other words, if this is what is happening to an outsider, what is happening inside the company?

Everyone learns from the top, so there is a risk of a leader creating a team with similar behaviours, which in turn will create a toxic organisation. Again, psychometrics can be useful in these circumstances, as such assessments can analyse each person’s strengths and weaknesses and look at where diversity of skills is required.

The skills of leadership

Finally, at the heart of this issue, is leadership and the skills you need to be a good leader.

In the past, there may have been the view that leaders were born rather than made. But very few of the CEOs I have interviewed believed they were natural leaders. They had to work hard to understand their role. Only six out of the 80 FTSE 200’s top CEOs I interviewed were trained formally to be leaders.

You may be great accountant, scientist or engineer, but you need additional skills to be a leader. And those skills need to be updated regularly to be relevant to a changing workforce.

To be a great leader, you need to look at how you influence those around you and to understand where and how you have learned to communicate.

It is a sobering fact that we will turn out the same as our parents. Not in the content of our lives – we may be a lawyer and they teachers – but in the way we interact. Much of our behaviour is set during the first three years of life. If that fact fills you with horror, then of course you can change but that may require training and development.

The CEO featured here may have a dominating parent in his life or a previous authoritarian boss he is emulating. Wherever he has learned these bizarre interviewing techniques, he will have to be humble enough to listen and learn alternative strategies. He is a ripe prospect for coaching. I hope he rises to the challenge.

Further information

To learn more about the benefits of psychometrics and leadership skills, visit