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Interview Questions That Identify Leadership

You need a new financial pro on your team, and– as with every position you staff– you’re selecting for strong technical skills and wide range of focused, relevant experience. But in this case, you’re also looking for something else, and you have no plans to settle: You need an effective leader. An employee who has no management experience and no proven ability to take responsibility for the performance of others simply won’t thrive in this role.

So how can you script a set of interview questions that will help you find the right candidate—someone who’s ready to step up and take the wheel? Start with some of the examples below.

“Can you describe a situation in which your leadership skills were seriously challenged? What were the circumstances and how did you respond?”

Open-ended behavioral questions will provide more meaningful answers than outdated versions of the same idea (Skip empty questions like “Are you a strong leader?”). As you listen to the candidate’s response, read between the lines. For example, what does this the candidate consider a “serious challenge”?

“Can you tell me about a time when you brought your strongest leadership skills to the table and despite your best efforts, you utterly failed? What did you learn from the experience?”

Don’t select a candidate who can’t answer this question as it’s intended. If your candidate dodges and weaves and describes a failure wasn’t really a failure (“I almost didn’t get that promotion!”), than keep looking. You want a candidate who takes risks, faces failure head on, learns valuable lessons, and bounces back.

“Imagine you’re facing an angry client and you have two choices: You can appease the client by firing or disciplining your employee, or you can protect the employee and risk losing the client. Which do you choose and why?”

Presenting your candidate with hypothetical leadership challenges can help you understand how she assesses and solves a problem. Encourage her to walk you through the steps she would take to size up the situation and choose an appropriate course of action.

“How would you approach an unsolvable personal problem or unbridgeable conflict between two employees on your team?”

Again, presenting the candidate with a hypothetical challenge can provide insights into her level of wisdom and relevant experience.

For more assessment methods that can help you find the behavioral and cultural traits you’re looking for in your management level candidates, reach out the financial staffing experts at Cordia.