By Cesar Ginete

Summary: Effective executive search typically relies on sound research, sophisticated assessment tools, in-depth interviews, and thorough background checks to support quality hiring decisions. In Asia, some companies still turn to the ancient art of feng shui to determine the best candidate for top jobs.

With roots dating back thousands of years from China, feng shui aims to achieve harmony and balance in the environment as well as in personal wellbeing, relationships, and business success.

In today’s business world, many multinational organisations across Asia still rely on feng shui not only to configure their workspaces (from furniture placements to colour schemes and even heights of desks) but also in their hiring practices — to assess interpersonal compatibility and the potential impact of a candidate’s flow of energy or “chi” on group dynamics and the future of the company.

While few studies have been done to support its role in executive hiring, feng shui is a time-honoured art of risk management in the hearts of avid believers. 

During one of our executive search assignments, a candidate had successfully progressed to the final stage of the selection process, which included an interview with the business owner. While the candidate met all requirements of the executive role, the business owner unexpectedly requested a feng shui check.

In feng shui, the candidate’s date and time of birth, and their Chinese zodiac birth sign are used to create a unique personal profile alongside conventional evaluations. While these aspects are generally out of the assessed individual’s control, they are used to understand the potential energy dynamics between the individual and the organisation.

Even when all other proof points such as education, experience, accomplishments, and shared values point to a sound hiring decision, some decision makers want to run the feng shui analysis. Despite some scepticism, feng shui holds significant value to those who believe in its power, not just for the benefit of home and family wellness, but also for business success.

As for our candidate, I’m happy to report that he passed the surprise assessment with flying colours, paving the way for a mutually successful alliance throughout his tenure with the company.

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