Geert Haentjens - Training & Consulting

Assessment Key Positions StartUp

Unsuccessful recruitment of a key person (CEO, COO, VP Eng...) threatens the existence, and certainly the success, of your StartUp. Therefore assessments with, among others, behavioural tests...

Invest in minimising your recruitment risks through a professional assessment.

What you are probably already doing...

  • You conduct interviews with your candidates, who you found yourself or who were brought to you by a headhunter
  • You have introduced the candidate to the Board, and for the CEO position probably also personally to the main investors
  • You invite the candidate to give a presentation during which he or she can apply his or her analytical and persuasive skills to the documentation on the StartUp, its market, its current structure and staffing
  • You have carefully analysed the CV of the candidate

Note: Is a headhunter an independent consultant? Unfortunately not, many "sell" candidates to companies and "sell" companies to candidates. Their business model is not to make you successful, their business model is to find a candidate who will stay with the organisation for at least one year. There are headhunters who think mainly of your interests, but you have to look for them very actively.

What we add

But we are independent. You pay us for the assessment in order to get a clear idea of who you are dealing with. We advise you on the talents and also the development points of your candidate. And because of this, we have often saved our clients from great peril. Our clients ask us again and again for new assessments. You receive advice from us in suggested decisions: "Yes, definitely recruit", "Yes, provided that...", "No, don't recruit unless..." or "No, really not a good idea to recruit". Sometimes not a nice message to hear but better before than after the contract signing.

Given the significant time investment for the assessment, we always give feedback to the candidate about the results afterwards. It is rare that a candidate (recruited or not) does not take advantage of this opportunity. In this way, the recruitment assessment also becomes a development assessment. Certainly for your recruited candidate an excellent investment.

During the assessment, we don't pay so much attention to technical knowledge (you are much better at that than we are) but to thinking and communication skills, leadership, vision and strategic thinking, entrepreneurship, etc. And since we have done this so many times before, we have become very good at it.

What are the typical components of an assessment?

Intelligence test

Given the complexity of the position and the intellectual requirements for the C-positions, we advise for non-phD candidates to check their ability to make sound analyses and reasoning.
Standardised and validated test available in e.g. Dutch and English.

Personality questionnaire

Personality measurements during the assessment are mainly meant to make the consultants understand what they see during the behavioural tests and to screen out red flags (e.g. lack of integrity, too much fear...). They open the "black box". This can cause more in-depth questions during interviews. It is not customary to disclose detailed information about personality measurements to clients, unless necessary to support concrete advice (e.g. in the case of a candidate with insufficient care for accuracy).
Standardised and validated test available in e.g. Dutch and English.

In Basket excercise

The candidate has to follow up a project leader in a fictitious organisation. In doing so, we measure basic leadership skills: Problem Solving, Deciding, Planning and Organising, Initiative and Customer Orientation. For each of these skills, development advice is given after the assessment, if necessary.
Standardised and validated test available in all Western European languages.

This test is not useful for candidates with less than about two years of experience as a project manager or executive.

Behavioural exercises

These exercises are adapted to the actual situation of the StartUp. Duration: for one candidate about 2- 3 hours.

Interaction exercise Situational Leadership

Here we check the people management skills of the candidate. Is the candidate sufficiently sensitive to what the employee needs in order to carry out a delegation successfully? Is he able to adapt to the needs of the employee? In each of the necessary leadership styles, is he sufficiently competent to lead effectively?

Business case

Can the candidate, by means of an discussion, gather the appropriate information about a (largely) real-life problem? Is he able to formulate an appropriate advice and present and defend this? Is the proposed approach of execution in the organisation effective and efficient? How does the candidate in the assessment engage the colleagues and staff needed to carry out this plan?
We make this exercise together with the clients in order to match the real situation of the company as closely as possible. We also invite our clients to participate in these simulations during the assessment so that they can make decisions not only based on our advice and their observations, but also based on realistic interactions with the candidate in problem solving situations. We distinguish ourselves here from almost all providers of assessments. Where necessary, we guide you to make this a comfortable and safe situation for all during the assessment.

Negotiation exercise

In a situation as real-life as possible, the candidate will negotiate during the assessment with an important supplier (e.g. partnership agreement), potential client or investor.

Networking exercise

Does the candidate have the skills to build up a ( eventually commercial ) network?


The consultants ask competence-oriented questions in function of the findings from the other parts of the assessment and in function of the critical elements for success in the future role.

Often, this also means a detailed analysis of the CV, salary package, fit of the new position with career ambitions or other possible bottlenecks.

More info? Contact



Written by:

Geert Haentjens
Geert Haentjens
Trainer / coach

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