The Morgan Samuels Perspective

Interviewing by Video Conference?  Avoid These 10 Pitfalls.

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Wed, Aug 17, 2016


You've submitted your resume, received the call for an interview and then find out it's via video conference.  No problem, right?  Video conferencing is being employed more frequently as a tool to help connect hiring managers and executive candidates quickly, efficiently, and economically. Without the right preparation, however, video conference meetings can hurt instead of help an executive move to the second round of interviews. 

Below are our top ten pitfalls to avoid just in time for your next video conference interview:

10.  Poor internet connectivity
You can do everything right, but if you don’t have sufficient internet access, you will surely frustrate yourself and the interviewer. Nothing is more painful than listening to a candidate apologize profusely about their internet connection. It makes it hard to visualize an executive in a senior leadership position. 

9.  Thinking a video conference is the same as a casual meeting
You may use Skype every day to talk to your brother in Europe, but don’t confuse your next video conference interview with a friendly chat online. The same interview engagement rules apply. Be relaxed, but confident and buttoned up as well. Professionalism is always in style and always appropriate.

8.  Overlooking your background
If you need to do a video conference interview on a laptop (and not in an office), be sure to preview the image that the other side will see. You don't want the interviewer to be so distracted by a sloppy background (piles of papers, opened drawers, dingy furniture), that it is hard for them to imagine you in a corner office.

7.  Not spending the time upfront to address image and sound issues
Most organizations will happily (and gratefully) conduct a test of the connection in advance of the actual interview. After all, they don't want to experience technical problems on their end, either. Feel free to request a test before the day of the interview to iron out any audio or image issues and ensure a smooth connection.

6.  Slouching or leaning back
What would seem like a pleasant relaxed pose in person can often look like really bad posture on camera. Take a cue from your second grade teacher and sit up straight.

5.  Body language
What applies to behavior in person also applies during a video conference.  Don't fidget, don't fuss with your hair or your clothes, don't allow yourself to appear distracted, etc. You want to appear professional and focused and your body language says as much about that as your words do (if not more). One thing you should allow yourself to do is SMILE (when appropriate).

4.  Thinking any lighting will do
Conduct the interview in an open, well-lit space. Spot lighting and dim rooms make people look tired and unattractive. Avoid being lit from behind (e.g., sitting in front of a bright window), as you will appear on camera in silhouette. Make sure there is sufficient lighting in front of you to make your facial expressions easy to discern. After all, that's one of the main reasons to do a video conference in the first place! 

3.  Not dressing for the camera
Stripes and small patterns create a busy effect on computer and television screens. Solid colors (other than black or white) read better. Women should avoid shiny jewelry, dangly earrings, dewy makeup, and glossy lipstick. These all appear exaggerated on camera.

2.  Not adjusting the camera position
If you are using a laptop to do a video conference, we recommend placing it on a stack of books so you are not looking down on the laptop’s camera. This is usually a very unflattering angle and even the slimmest people look like they have a double chin.

1.  Looking at the picture and not the camera
It’s hard not to look at the face you see on the computer (or your own face while you are talking). However, if you want to present the most professional and commanding image, try to focus your gaze at the camera. It will come across that you are looking your interviewer in the eye. This takes some practice, but it is well worth the effort.


 What are some tips that you use during video conferencing? Tell us in the comments below!


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Topics: executive search, C-suite, interview tips, talent

How to Build an Effective, Diverse Board

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Fri, Aug 12, 2016

In the video below, Morgan Samuels Senior Client Partner Linda Rebrovick shares valuable insights on building an exceptional board, including:

  • The importance of the working relationship between the CEO and the board
  • The role of the Nominating and Governance committee
  • Seeking out diversity of thought as well as gender, ethnicity, international expertise, etc.
  • Ideas for finding candidates of diversity
  • Advice for new Board Directors
  • The rewards and challenges of serving on a board

This Week in the Boardroom is a weekly on-demand webcast program designed to educate board members and C-suite executives on topics/issues that impact their operational and strategic decisions. 

On this program, Linda Rebrovick talks with host TK Kerstetter about Building an Effective Board. Mr. Kerstetter is the President of Corporate Board Member - the leading information resource for senior officers and directors of publicly traded corporations, large private companies, and Global 1000 firms.  



Click here to find out about Morgan Samuels Board Practice.


Click here to contact Linda Rebrovick directly.  


Topics: morgan samuels, leadership, executive search, CEO, C-suite, board of directors, women, talent

Morgan Samuels gives back with Operation Gratitude!

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Fri, Aug 5, 2016


L to R: Alicia Montgomery, Angela Wynn, Robby Kempton, Bert Hensley

Recently, the Morgan Samuels team proudly participated in Operation Gratitude's Battalion Buddies program.  Our team members built over 100 of these cuddly bears to be sent in care packages to the youngest Warriors — the children of deployed Military.  The specific intent of Battalion Buddy packages is to provide comfort to those children who will not see their parent for a long time and need something to hold on to.  Each Battalion Buddy wears a tag saying: “Hi Brave Young Warrior! I am your Battalion Buddy. I am here to cuddle with you while your Mommy or Daddy is away.”


L to R: Stacy FitzgeraldRobby Kempton

Supporting our military holds special meaning for Morgan Samuels' Chairman & CEO Bert Hensley, a military veteran himself.  Earlier in his career, Bert served five years in the United States Army Aviation Branch, where he held various leadership and staff positions, including helicopter pilot, aviation detachment commander, battalion adjutant, and brigade war plans officer. He received several achievement and services awards for his contributions while on active duty, including the Meritorious Service Medal.


L to R: Bert Hensley, Anne Hoversten, Lindsey Hoesterey-VilletteZach JensenLindsay Higgins Vane

The teddy bear building took place during our bi-annual Kaizen retreat, part of our commitment to Lean Six Sigma and continuous improvement initiatives. Twice a year we bring the whole team together for a company off-site where we challenge ourselves to solve tough problems, innovate how we approach the market to better serve our clients and candidates, and brainstorm how to more effectively communicate with each other. We also take this week to form bonds that help our teams create optimal results all year.  We believe that good ideas come from everyone in our firm.


L to R: Celine FintziBryce Raney, Rebecca BendelStacy FitzgeraldAlyssa Robinson, Todd Wyles

At Morgan Samuels we strive to be more than an executive search firm.  By fostering a culture of collaboration and service, we aim to have a positive impact on our communities along the way. 


L to R: Martin Hewett,  Linda RebrovickAnne Hoversten


If you or your organization would like to learn more about Operation Gratitude's Battalion Buddy Program and how you can help, click here

For more information about Morgan Samuels, click here:       VISIT US HERE!


Topics: morgan samuels, lean six sigma, executive search, Philanthropy, human capital consulting

Not Sure You Want the Job? Do Your Homework Anyway!

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Wed, Jul 20, 2016

It’s common advice that the key to nailing an interview for a job you want is preparation.  But what about an interview for a job you don’t necessarily want?

stocksnap_homework.jpg“Even if you’re not interested -- prepare,” says Bert Hensley, Morgan Samuels’ Chairman and CEO. After all, there may be
 an upcoming opening that is more appealing – either at this company or at another client company through the executive search firm.  “If you get good feedback from a client, then search firms will think of you again.  You have an audience beyond who’s in the room.”  

Executive search firms place candidates in two broad categories: active and passive.  Active candidates are actively seeking new employment, while passive candidates are generally happy in their current roles. 

“Passive candidates sometimes don’t prepare like they should.  There’s a perception among executives that they benefit from being coy or playing hard to get in the interview process,” Mr. Hensley says.  “In my experience, that’s not the case.”

 “Go in prepared, or you’re better off not doing it,” he advises. 


How to Prepare: 

  • Know Your Numbers. Be able to quantify your own performance, but also understand the performance of the company.  If the company is public, read their annual reports online. 
  • Know Their Story, and Yours. Be able to describe your career as a narrative and a journey.  How did you get where you are? What have you learned?  Also know the hiring company’s story.  Know its history and read through recent press releases to learn recent developments.  Research the professional background of the interviewer. 
  • Know the Industry. Research what trends are impacting the company, both positively and negatively.
  •  Ask Pointed Questions. Why is the position available?  What are their expectations?  What roadblocks would you face?  Are there opportunities for growth for someone in this position?  Both parties need to understand whether the placement is a good fit or it won’t last long, if you do decide you want it.

 Remember: interviewing for a job is always great practice, even if you’re not sure you’re interested in it. Look at it as an opportunity to shake the rust off your interviewing skills. That way, when you get to interview for your dream job, you’re ready to nail it.


Click here for more career guidance and tools

Topics: executive recruiters, morgan samuels, leadership, human capital consultants, executive search firms, retained search firms, interview tips, talent

Powerful Women

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Mon, Jun 6, 2016

Morgan Samuels' own Linda Rebrovick recently moderated The Nashville Post's 2016 Most Powerful Women event. 

Named the 2011 Most Powerful Women honoree herself, Linda led a dynamic conversation among top female leaders in the technology industry. Click on the link below to read some highlights from this wide-ranging, informative conversation, which touched on multiple topics of interest to women wanting to fulfill their potential, and those who want to help them to do so. 



The 2016 Most Powerful Women on the tech industry's growth, developing future talent and the continuing need for encouragement.


 Want more information on Morgan Samuels?  Click here to contact Senior Client Partner and Healthcare Practice co-leader Linda Rebrovick.

Topics: morgan samuels, human capital consulting, Technology, Healthcare, C-suite, women, talent, entrepreneurship

What Makes a Great Private Equity CFO?

Posted by Todd Wyles on Mon, Nov 16, 2015

For private equity investors, ensuring they have the right CFO is widely thought to be the most critical decision they will make from a talent standpoint, second only to installing a top CEO.  

Over the past three years, nearly forty percent of all the PE-backed searches Morgan Samuels has conducted have been CFO searches.  Why is this search such a common one throughout the investment cycle?  Is there a common profile for the best CFOs?  And if there is, what are the specific attributes that are most often observed?

In an attempt to answer these questions, Morgan Samuels has captured and analyzed extensive quantitative and qualitative data from CFO searches we have conducted for PE-backed businesses ranging in size from $8M - $75M EBITDA, across multiple industries.  By culling the data collected from assessing hundreds of chief financial officers for these searches, we have identified three critical attributes of great CFOs for PE-backed companies:

  1. They all have the desire and ability to be a true partner to the CEO, both internally and externally.
  2. They have command of the levers and metrics that drive value in the business, and they play a major role in executing the strategy.
  3. They are hands on, decisive, and they have a very high sense of urgency.

Let’s look at each of these characteristics in more detail:

True Partner to the CEO

This may appear to be a relatively soft attribute and difficult to measure, but based on our experience a CFO must not only fit the culture of the portfolio company, but also the style and vision of the CEO.  And they must simultaneously focus on both the internal and external aspects of their position.

One of the reasons the CFO role is so critical to get right at a PE-backed company is that they must have the skills and ability to advance the vision and strategy of the CEO, across multiple functions. They need to be able to translate the financial impact / projected outcomes of the strategy across the organization.  This is the internal aspect of becoming a partner to the CEO. 

Additionally, they must be focused externally.  They need to manage banking relationships and ensure covenants are not broken.  They often own multiple professional service provider relationships.  Perhaps most importantly, they have to be comfortable serving two masters – both their CEO and also the Board which will typically include at least one senior member of the GP.  And when it comes time to exit, the CFO plays a major role in interfacing with potential buyers, which requires both strong presentation skills and the ability to influence buyers.

Metrics Driven

Cash is King is a trite anecdote.  But for many middle market private equity-owned companies, it is still a very relevant mindset.  Most control investments are levered such that the management team has to be extraordinarily thoughtful about how they manage cash to ensure growth (whether that be organic, or via acquisition) and liquidity.  The CFO is at the tip of the spear regarding cash management.

One CFO we recently placed at a $150M business services company recognized within about 30 days on the job that the company was going to run out of cash 60 days later!  The CEO and the Board were not as aware of this, and so the very first order of business for this CFO was to create a set of metrics/KPIs that provided visibility for cash management on a daily basis.  That is how critical managing cash can be for a midsized business, and CFOs who install systems to ensure this happens are the most successful.

Hands on and Decisive

One of the most striking differences we have observed in successful CFOs for middle market companies with private equity owners is that they truly appreciate (and accept) that resources are at a premium, and that time is of the essence. Very few CFOs in private equity enjoy the resources (both from a staff and budget perspective) that their counterparts in the marketplace have.  Similarly, they do not have nearly as much time to create value for the PE-backed business, with an exit often only a few years away.  Being willing to get their hands dirty—and do it quickly by making great decisions (often without as much information as they would like) are hallmarks of the most effective private equity CFOs.

Private Equity Practice Leader Todd WylesA private equity firm’s greatest asset lies in its people and their capabilities to deliver across a myriad of stakeholders’ expectations. Top talent that is a great fit for private equity is extraordinarily scarce across the board, and finding the right CFO is especially critical to success. We have conducted dozens of successful CFO searches for PE-backed companies over the past few years, and we have found that candidates who possess the criteria described above thrive within the unique demands of private equity.

Click here  to find out more about Morgan Samuels’ Private Equity Practice.


Topics: executive recruiters, morgan samuels, lean six sigma, human capital consultants, executive search firms, retained search firms, retained executive search firm, top executive search firms, Private Equity, PE, executive search, executive search consultants, Todd Wyles, CFO, executive search private equity

It's All About Relationships

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Mon, Mar 24, 2014

The January issue of PE Manager includes expert commentary by Todd Wyles about the importance of PE firms proactively building and maintaining their own pipelines of executive talent. As the bar for human capital talent in private equity is exceptionally high and the competition for top talent is fierce, Todd makes the case for PE firms to devote the time and energy to create and sustain their senior executive networks in a systematic fashion.

Todd is the Private Equity Practice Leader at Morgan Samuels. In addition to his own experience, Todd interviewed senior leaders at Friedman Fleischer & Lowe and General Atlantic to get their perspective on why and how they work at building a strong bench of potential talent. Download the article for some thoughts on how to succeed in the ongoing battle for rock star talent.


Topics: morgan samuels, human capital consultants, Private Equity, PE

10 Non-Verbal Interview Errors to Avoid

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Wed, Aug 21, 2013

Most of us have had a version of this experience at one time or another: You are perfect for the job. You’ve polished your resume to a high gloss, your references are glowing and you sail through the interview – prepared for every question.  You know you’re just what they’re looking for and… you don’t land the job.  What could possibly have gone wrong?

non verbal communication executive recruiter morgan samuelsThe truth is, you might have lost the job before you ever said anything, or even sat down in the chair.  “90% of communication is nonverbal,” or so the saying goes. Whether that percentage is accurate is debatable, but there’s no arguing that we are constantly conveying information about ourselves non-verbally, and we’re often not aware of it.  A recent article on lists, “10 Body Language Mistakes That Could Cost You The Job.” As the author of the article puts it:

You may be the most qualified candidate—but forget to smile, slouch in your chair or fail to make eye contact during the interview, and you could be out of the running.

The bottom line is, despite your best efforts to the contrary, you might have sabotaged your own chances of being hired without realizing it.   

Think about it: We make all kinds of decisions all day long based on non-verbal cues we’re picking up from other people. Have you ever crossed the street because someone coming toward you makes you feel uncomfortable for some reason?  Do you smile at a perfect stranger because they appear friendly?  Self-defense students are taught that criminals target those who appear vulnerable simply based on how they behave.  In the age of the 24-hour news cycle and omnipresent cameras, body language can make or break politicians (think of a recent awkwardly executed sip of water that nearly derailed a rising career). The same is true of business leaders and TV news anchors (for a hilarious and poignant example of this, see the 1987 movie Broadcast News). Examples of the influence of body language are endless and its importance cannot be overstated.

The Forbes article lists these 10 gaffes as potential deal-breakers and our executive recruiters agree:

  1. Weak handshake – If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a limp fish, you’ll know how it made you feel.
  2. Invading personal space – As Sting said, “Don’t stand so close to me.”
  3. Crossing your arms – You are literally closing yourself off when you do this, and you appear closed off, unapproachable, or defensive to the interviewer.
  4. Playing with your hair – This is a bad habit that reads as immature.
  5. Bad posture – Your mother was right! Sit up straight in that chair! It will make you look (and feel) more confident and in control.
  6. Lack of eye contact – This can come across as nervousness, shyness, or shiftiness. Don’t stare at the interviewer, of course, but a few seconds of unbroken eye contact will make you appear more confident.
  7. Looking like you’re not interested – Appearing distracted, unfocused, or bored will not inspire anyone to want to add you to their team.
  8. Not smiling – Sure, they want you to take the job seriously, but they also want to hire someone who will be pleasant and friendly to work with. Not smiling can come across as cold, harsh, or even untrustworthy.
  9. Fidgeting – Another habit that can make you seem scattered or insecure.
  10. Hiding your hands – This can make you come across like you have something to hide (literally and metaphorically). 

So, how do you not let your body betray you in an interview situation? The first step is
– become aware of your habits. Ask your friends and family members (or your executive recruiter!) their candid opinions on how you come across non-verbally.  Become conscious of your body language and notice how it makes you feel to sit up straighter, to give a firmer handshake, to allow your hands to be more still. It’s amazing how adopting the behaviors of confident people can actually increase your own sense of confidence.  Try maintaining eye contact versus looking away frequently and see how each makes you feel.

The second step is to practice. Before you go in for a real, high-stakes interview, conduct a mock interview with someone you trust and have them give you honest feedback. Morgan Samuels consultants conduct extensive interview preparation with our candidates to help them put their best foot forward. Watch movies and TV shows and observe how powerful, confident characters carry themselves and try incorporating some of those behaviors in your daily life.

The bottom line? As executive recruiters, we concur that straight posture, sustained eye contact, a firm handshake, and a smile can do more to convey confidence than the most eloquent interview response. If you don’t pay attention to this element of communication, you are leaving a very important factor to chance.


Have questions on the impact of non-verbal communications?

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Topics: executive recruiter, non-verbal communication, marketing

Human Capital Solutions: Putting the + in CIO-Plus

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Thu, Jun 13, 2013

Forbes just wrapped a series of columns and interviews exploring the new role of the "CIO-Plus." The idea is that Chief Information Officers (and those with the same general job but different titles) throughout the marketplace are taking on responsibilities in other areas, becoming Chief Innovation Officers, Heads of HR, Chief Supply Chain Officers, and Heads of Shared Services, etc.

This interests us at Morgan Samuels because as part of human capital solutions in our consulting practice, we often find that companies are seeking to effect a cultural change through hiring, when what they need is a strategic realignment. Our primary practice is retained executive search, so we are always more than happy to help you find a new C-level executive. If that's what you need. But often what a company needs is to rethink how their C-suite is structured. Giving your top talent more and different responsibilities is a great way to improve company performance, all while keeping your executives challenged and preparing them for succession with well-rounded experience.

These expanded roles have also been beneficial for CIOs, as the series notes that the position is becoming more of a stepping stone to CEO, with CIOs competing with the COOs and CFOs who are usually up for the head job.

Here's how Forbes describes the new path:

CIOs who have become COOs, CEOs, or who have taken on other wide-ranging responsibilities have typically spent some time in a business role within the company, even early in their career. This familiarizes them with the company’s customers, the profit and loss statements and the drivers of each,  and simply builds their networks across the company. When they achieved the top position in IT, they have walked a mile in the shoes of other divisions of the company. They also are probably familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of the IT department as a user, which provides a strong degree of empathy in their perspective.

The gist is that you don't want to get caught up thinking in old paradigms. The business world is evolving too fast for that. You want executives with the right experience to help your company move forward, even as the ground moves under you, no matter what the title on the resume says.

We'll soon see how these tech savvy CEOs perform. At Morgan Samuels, we think they will do well. Diane Gilley, a Principal at Morgan Samuels, works a lot with CIO candidates and on a lot of CIO executive searches. She said, "Chief Information Officers have really transformed from being the internal IT key operator to being seen as one of the top participants and decision makers at the corporate table.  Many of them now play a much broader role in partnering with different internal functions to really differentiate themselves out in the marketplace. It makes sense that CIOs are having different doors open at this time." 

Wired Magazine reports a survey of CIOs  which says most expect to roll out a few dozen mobile apps each in the next few years to keep up-to-date with employees and consumers and all the devices they carry. Any executive that can oversee that kind of rapid growth, juggling a score of projects, all while protecting networks and maintaining an efficient infrastructure, has proven his or her management mettle.

If you think you fit this mold, or would like to, submit your resume to become part of our confidential database of executive talent:

Submit your Resume

Topics: human capital consultants, CIO, CEO

A New Front in the War for Talent?

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Thu, May 23, 2013

Todd Wyles Morgan SamuelsThe May issue of PE Manager includes a piece by our firm's own Todd Wyles on how private equity firms approach talent management across their portfolios. Increasingly, PE firms are adopting an Operating Partner in charge of Talent or Human Capital to help facilitate executive hiring at their portfolio companies. Todd interviewed several Heads of Talent, including leaders at Genstar Capital and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe to learn how they create value.

Todd is the Private Equity Practice Leader at Morgan Samuels. As a human capital consulting firm, we are always enthusiastic about putting a focus on talent issues. We think the emergence of the Head of Talent role at PE firms is a positive development in the private equity space for reasons outlined in Todd’s commentary.

Click here to Download

Topics: executive recruiters, top executive search firm, morgan samuels, lean six sigma, human capital consultants, executive search firms, retained search firms, retained executive search firm, top executive search firms, Private Equity, PE, executive search, executive search consultants, executive employment agency, Private Equity International, Magazine, Head of Talent, CHRO, Todd Wyles

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