Egon Zehnder

Data-driven executive assessment

Having used psychometric tools in-house for several years, Egon Zehnder was looking for an instrument that could assist their executive assessment work with clients. Once the decision to incorporate a psychometric tool into their approach was made, the firm weighed the choices carefully. The chosen tool needed to be accessible, meaningful and engaging from the outset. It also needed proven validity and reliability to make it credible. Equally important, the chosen assessment would have to work on an international stage and be available as a questionnaire in multiple languages.

The challenge


Egon Zehnder is a leading executive search firm, sourcing senior leaders for many of the world’s most respected organisations. With more than 420 consultants and 69 offices in 41 countries spanning Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, their clients range from the largest corporations to emerging growth companies, government and regulatory bodies and major educational and cultural institutions. The challenge for them was to find a robust assessment tool that would be highly accurate and spark meaningful conversations and outputs for candidates and assessors.

The solution


After weighing the options, Egon Zehnder settled on the 16pf® as the assessment that ticked all these boxes. Initially road-tested internally, it was clear from the feedback that the instrument would stimulate the kind of conversations necessary to enhance their assessment process. “That was one of the key criteria,” says James Martin, Consultant Partner at Egon Zehnder. “We were looking for a tool that would add to and fit with our current methodology. The 16pf® was credible in the market, but more importantly it provided us with a deeper level of insight around our established assessment framework – it fitted the bill perfectly.”

In partnership with Egon Zehnder, a bespoke 16pf® qualifying programme was developed. The training enables in-house practitioners to carry out 16pf®-based assessment in the specific context of individual senior executive candidate assessment. A tailored Profile Manager Feedback report was co-developed, designed to relate specifically to client situations, and is used for “hypothesis generation”, a tool for the assessor rather than a feedback document for the executives. The assessor then sits with the candidate to validate the results and writes a bespoke summary of the findings which is included in the overall assessment report.

The results


The 16pf® assessment was quickly embedded as an integral part of the client offering, and is now a central element in the assessment process. There was very little pushback, the value of the tool being self-evident to everyone involved. “We have found the 16pf® discussion to be both accurate and enjoyable for our candidates – client feedback has been incredibly positive,” says Amy-Jo Walton, Senior Assessment and Development Expert at Egon Zehnder.

The company has accredited 280 people in the 16pf® tool over the last four years. The training is entirely voluntary – accreditation is only offered to consultants who express a wish to add the 16pf® to their assessment toolkit. “It acts as an additional lens, helping build a more complete picture of the individual we are assessing,” says Amy-Jo. “There’s no downside really. Why wouldn’t we use it? That’s what it comes down to – why wouldn’t we use it, given the additional data point it brings and the rapport it encourages? It’s a great scene-setter in many scenarios where trust is central to the process. We want to get it right.”

Egon Zehnder also uses the anonymous report data in its aggregate form to look at commonalities within a team or working group. This acts as an additional data point to understand how individuals behave as a team and highlights how organisational hiring and development preferences may lead to a lack of diversity – the implications of which can be both cultural and performance-related.

We have found the 16pf® discussion to be both accurate and enjoyable for our candidates – client feedback has been incredibly positive.

Amy-Jo Walton

Senior Assessment and Development Expert at Egon Zehnder