Hiring managers typically ask the wrong interview questions to size up job candidates for leadership positions that lend to success on the job

Most, unknowingly, equate leadership with personality traits like confidence, extraversion, and charisma, and will superficially look for those traits in interviews while basing their hiring decision on feelings ("I have a hunch") and intuition. These traits can later backfire as overconfidence, narcissism, and even psychopathy, which can result in toxic workplaces.

Whether you're new to the practice of interviewing or not, if you're not employing the science of behavioral interviewing in a cross-functional, panel format with scorecards and measures in place at the end of your interviewing process, you're truly risking disaster by bringing in the wrong leaders.

Ask these failproof questions.

In essence, if you ask behavioral interview questions, you're no longer asking questions that will lead to vague or hypothetical answers (i.e., "Why should we hire you?"); you're asking questions that must be answered based upon fact.

This gives hiring managers a clear edge as leadership candidates may not get a chance to deliver any prepared stories or scripted answers.

Here are 11 questions that you'll want to ask:  

  1. Discuss with me a time when you pulled your team together and raised morale through a transition or difficult time. Walk me through the process.
  2. Describe what you believe are the most effective roles that a good leader plays in his or her relationship with reporting team members.
  3. Give me an example, from your past work experiences, about a time when you had an underperforming employee reporting to you. How did you address the situation? [Follow up questions: What was the outcome? What did you do next?]
  4. How do you handle the demands of being accessible to those who rely on you
    for feedback and/or guidance?
  5. Tell us about an idea you started that involved influence and collaboration with your team members that improved the business. What was the process from buy-in to implementation?
  6. Tell me about the most difficult team you've ever lead...why were they difficult and how did you cope?
  7. What factors are crucial within an organization and must be present for you to work most effectively?
  8. One of the jobs of a manager is to set the right conditions for people to perform well, and then inspire them to high performance with clear goals, ongoing feedback, and measures for performance. Describe the process you have used for that.
  9. When you've been hired for a manager position in the past, describe how you've gone about developing relationships with your new peers, coworkers, and reporting staff.
  10. As a leader, one of your jobs is to provide direction and guidance for people. Describe how you have accomplished this in the past.
  11. Using a past example, how did you go about being a reliable leader where people knew they could depend on you?

Published on: May 15, 2019
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