10 Interview Questions to Ask Job Candidates About Leadership

TalentSorter StaffInterview Questions, Interviewing, Recruitment

leadership interview questions

In choosing leaders to fill open management positions, many organizations are guilty of placing too much weight on a candidate’s pedigree: where did they go to school; what companies have they worked for, and in what roles; what projects or initiatives have they led; what skills and networks of relationships have they picked up along the way, etc.

Those are all important elements that add value to a candidate, but the true measure of a leader is less ‘what they know’, and more ‘who they are’ as an individual and as a leader. Do they build healthy, strong and productive relationships (and can they maintain them when the going gets tough)? Do they know how to grow people, can they build teams, and can they focus and motivate those people and teams to achieve great things, even in the face of adversity?

Those are the most valuable aspects of a manager, and they can’t be inferred from a person’s pedigree, or what’s on their résumé. They are qualities that must be screened for carefully.

You can teach a robot to track and manage a process – that’s not the value a good manager brings to your organization. Screen instead for the most important quality a manager can bring: true leadership. Your people (and your bottom line) deserve no less.

10 Interview Questions to Ask About Leadership

What was the most difficult change initiative you were involved in? What made the situation such a challenge? Tell us about the before/after, as well as details of the change plan and your role in it.

What was the most committed group of people you’ve worked with? What was it they were so committed to, and why were they so determined?

How political or bureaucratic is your current or most recent organization, and how do you solve problems in that environment? What actions do you take?

How do you communicate a vision to a larger group of people and keep them focused on execution? What are the most effective techniques you’ve seen?

We are not here merely to make a living. What are the elements of higher purpose and meaning that drive you in your work?

Describe what measures you took in your last/current position to develop partnerships with other organizations within the community and/or government organizations. How did you ensure you maintained a positive relationship?

How do you motivate your people?

How do you identify talents in others?

What was the most effective approach you have taken to turn around an under-performing team or individual?

When you inherited your last team, how was it performing? What specifically did you do to understand where each individual was at, and what steps did you take to improve results while you were there?

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