7 Ways to Assess Leadership Potential in Your Candidates

Categories: Advice for HR Professionals, Recruitment Advice, Trends and Learning

7 Ways to Assess Leadership Potential in Your Candidates
Great leadership is a universal skill that most successful people possess, and these people are the ones that propel an organization to success. As such, you want to find candidates who can not only perform their tasks excellently but can also help drive the brand forward while motivating others to follow their lead.

There are ways to spot if you have a future leader sitting in front of you. You can ask different questions and observe their behavior to assess their potential. Below are seven ways to help you evaluate whether a particular candidate can be a valuable asset to your company.

1. Look for passion

You’ll know when a candidate is passionate about what they do the moment they speak, especially when it comes to their experiences, work ethics, and principles. Candidates who demonstrate an intense eagerness to learn and those who engross themselves in their work are likely to succeed in their role.

Passionate candidates are motivated to move up the ladder to guide a team. Not only because it’s the logical next step for their career, but because they want to make a difference in the company.

Sample questions:

  • Have you had any experience when something went wrong at work and you had to take control?
    How did you handle it?
  • When and how did you encourage your team to improve their performance? What were the
    issues you detected and how did you address them?
  • 2. Evaluate their ability to communicate

    Communication is a handy soft skill for all types of jobs. But not all good communicators are effective leaders. You want to look for candidates who can express their thoughts articulately. They don’t interrupt when you’re talking and they listen intently.

    You can also try asking a vague question. Observe as they reframe your question and break it down to hit logical points. Take note whenever they pause, this shows they’re actively thinking.

    Sample questions:

  • Tell me about your experience with a challenging customer. What was their concern and how did
    you handle it?
  • Have you ever raised an idea to your company? What was it and how did you ‘sell’ it?
  • 3. See if they’re capable of collaboration

    Leaders know when they should take over and when to delegate. But most importantly, they value teamwork. Collaborative people are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and they don’t hesitate to work with others to drive better results. Two heads are better than one, after all.

    A superior candidate will show a professional yet humble attitude in their communication style. This speaks volumes about their people skills and how capable they are of working with others. Look for a right balance of traits like confidence and humility. You can sense this in their body language, such as good posture and good eye contact.

    Sample questions:

  • Share an example of when you had to work with a difficult colleague for a task. How did you
    approach your interactions and what was the outcome?
  • Talk us through a situation when you volunteered to expand your knowledge at work or help a
    colleague out, as opposed to being asked to do so.
  • 4. Examine their risk management and problem-solving skills

    Good leaders aren’t afraid to try something new for the growth of the business, but they carefully weigh the pros and cons before making a move. This candidate also makes decisions based on differing perspectives and objective analysis to reach a logical solution.

    As you ask questions that test these skills, observe how they evaluate the situation, generate possible solutions, and suggest non-conforming ideas. Consider their verbal and nonverbal cues. It’s important for you to assess how their mind naturally works and the instinctive solutions they can come up.

    Sample questions:

  • Have you ever found yourself in a stressful situation which requires you to act fast? What did you
    do and what was the outcome?
  • Tell me about a situation where you had to make a significant decision on the spot without taking
    advice from any key players who would later assess you on that decision?
  • 5. Determine if they can delegate tasks effectively

    Aside from fulfilling their own responsibilities, excellent leaders oversee all facets of a business. But they acknowledge that dissemination of tasks is vital to working efficiently and productively. Despite surrendering control and entrusting the job to other people, they remain plugged in with what’s going on within their team and the company.

    You’ll want to hear their experiences in collaboration. Ask them to talk about their relationship with their previous teams or coworkers to determine their ability to empower the people around them.

    Sample questions:

  • Share an example of a successful project where you effectively delegated tasks? How did you
    decide what task goes to whom?
  • How do you guarantee that the tasks you have assigned are finished on time and as expected?
  • 6. Find out if they’re a good role model

    People who inspire, influence, and motivate their colleagues in a significant way are great leaders. This makes it crucial to look for someone who exudes a positive attitude in good times and bad.

    Knockout candidates will manifest a confident and proactive attitude throughout the interview. They sit straight and maintain eye contact, and gives you their full attention. When it’s their turn to talk, they speak with credibility, compassion, and eloquence.

    Sample questions:

  • Share us about your experience when you felt you led by example. What did you do and how did
    your colleagues react?
  • Tell me about a time you stepped in to motivate, encourage, or lend a helping hand to a co-
    worker. What was the result?
  • 7. Tap into their creative mind

    Whether it’s process improvement, finding prospective clients, dealing with clients and colleagues, or team building, leaders infuse their creativity into their jobs. Neither do they forget to have a little fun as this helps in keeping their team actively engaged and increases team morale.

    You want to look for signs that a candidate radiates a breath of fresh air in the company. They don’t play safe with their answers, and they think outside the box. When you ask a common interview question, they’ll likely respond with their own sound answer—not something that seems memorized and rehearsed.

    Sample questions:

  • Tell us how you successfully balance fun and productivity in the workplace.
  • If you were given a chance to contribute and implement one idea to refine your previous job’s
    processes, what would it be and why?
  • Wrapping up

    It may not be hard to find a candidate that ticks all the boxes for a management role. However, looking for one that exhibits leadership characteristics is where the challenge lies. An experienced hiring manager or recruitment agency can help you determine whether a candidate exudes this superior skill.