The success of any organization depends on hiring for leadership roles. Strong leadership hires are crucial because they’re the people who are building and developing your teams, and inspiring each team member to do their best work. Leadership hires typically take recruiting teams a lot of time and resources to ensure they are the right fit. And hiring the wrong leader can severely impact a company’s bottom line and culture.
At Lever, we know that the leaders we hire are responsible for building a great workplace, so we can attract, hire, and retain the top-tier talent to reach our business goals. That is why we thoughtfully crafted our top interview questions for leadership positions, so you can hire the best leaders for your organization.
Top 3 interview questions for leadership positions
1. Tell me about someone you managed who was struggling. What happened, and where are they now?
This question addresses a few things: how effective this leader is at coaching, constructive and consistent feedback, and how seriously they take performance issues. I also look for reflection here. Are there things they would’ve done differently? Would they have taken action sooner? Would they have had a harder conversation earlier? The second part to this question—-where are they now—can help uncover how successful this leader was at coaching. Were they able to partner with the individual contributor to get them back on track? And if they moved on, what kind of role did they tackle next? Have they continued to grow, or not?
2. Tell me about feedback you’ve received from a peer.
This question can get at humility, open-mindedness, and action. Were they defensive? Did they carefully consider the feedback? And more importantly, what did they do about the feedback? Did they implement it? I look for stories or other indications that show how they’ve directly applied that feedback. No one wants a leader that is impenetrable when it comes to feedback, especially if they’re managing a team. It also can uncover a growth mindset and a nod to “this is something I’m still working on.” The key is acknowledgement, self-awareness, and action.
3. Tell me about an unpopular decision you made.
This question can highlight how a leader seeks to build alignment, how they make decisions, and how they approach soliciting input from other areas of the business. It can also highlight what they learned from that experience and how they’ve changed their behavior since. At the same time, sometimes unpopular decisions need to be made, so how did they weigh the pros and cons? Did they take any measures to curb a negative reaction?
Hiring for a leadership role is a process that takes time to perfect. According to Deloitte University Press, only 13 percent of companies report they are “excellent” at building global leaders. With that said, preparing for the recruitment process with a clear understanding of your ideal candidate profile, helps you identify the best candidate for the role. Use these interview questions as part of a structured interview process, in which you ask each leadership candidate the same questions, so you can evaluate them against the same criteria. Evaluating for leadership skills is imperative to your recruiting process.
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