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Nice Guys Finish First

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Bottom Line: When hiring CEOs, companies appear to focus on interpersonal skills while overlooking the candidate’s capacity to get the job done.

Nice guys finish last, the old sports adage goes. But according to a new study, nice guys finish first in the race up the corporate ladder. And yes, it’s usually guys who emerge victorious. Hiring committees tend to disproportionately value candidates’ interpersonal qualities, the authors found, and elevate far fewer similarly credentialed women than men to the CEO role.

The authors analyzed a proprietary database containing comprehensive assessments of more than 2,600 candidates for top management positions at both public and private firms, ranging from well-funded startups to companies that take in more than US$1 billion in annual revenue.

The evaluations, collected between 2000 and 2013, were based on four-hour interviews that resulted in a 20- to 40-page report on each candidate. These reports traced the candidates’ actions and behavior through their childhood, college years, and professional careers.

Read more: Nice Guys Finish First

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