How to Assess Leadership Skills During the Hiring Process

Dec 20, 2021 7 Min Read
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Photo by Campaign Creators @ Unsplash

Good leaders always possess leadership skills!

Leadership skills are one of the most important things you can look for when it comes to hiring new recruits. If you're hiring for a management position, it's arguable that good leadership skills are the most important aspect to consider. Even if you're not hiring for a management position, candidates with leaderships skills are generally a better choice as they have a greater chance of being motivated to succeed and advance within your organisation.

The hiring process can be challenging. Jobs often get a high number of applicants, and sorting through them to find the best options is time-consuming and is never simple. While it's often easy to look at a candidate's qualifications and experience and judge whether they might be a good fit for the role, judging their leadership skills is generally much more difficult.

If you're looking for information on how to assess leadership skills, this guide is for you. Here you'll find detailed information on what leadership skills are and how to assess them accurately during the hiring process. By making use of these tips, you can ensure that you only ever hire the best quality candidates for your business.

What Are Leadership Skills?

Leadership skills, simply put, are an indication of a person's capacity to lead a group. Good leaders always possess leadership skills, which are a measure of how well they can manage the individuals in their group and get the most out of their talents. Leadership is a highly sought-after attribute that comprises a wide range of abilities and personality qualities that can either come naturally or be developed over time.

There are many various types of leadership talents, and a successful leader will have a diverse set of abilities that can be applied to a range of situations. These attributes of leadership can be nurtured and strengthened throughout a person's career, but they can also be identified during the hiring process. There are multiple styles of leadership that can be used in different situations. Good leaders will be able to make use of the right style that the team responds to the best. Understanding the group and their needs are key to this.

Some of the most important skills a leader can possess include:

(1) Communication 

Good leaders know how to communicate their ideas and instructions to their team. It also means better transparency when it comes to intra-team communication, leading to more effective problems solving. 

(2) Empathy

Empathy is important for understanding the needs of the group and knowing how to connect with them. Good leaders are both thoughtful and tactful, establishing strong connections with their team.

(3) Motivation

While a leader shouldn't be the sole motivation for a team, it helps to be able to motivate and inspire when confidence is low. Good leaders know how to improve moral, either by offering incentives or acknowledging a job well done. A motivated team are more likely to achieve the best results for the organisation. 

(4) Dependability 

It's important that leaders are dependable and that they're always available when needed. Teams need to be able to count on their leader to provide support and advice during difficult times. A team will work much more effectively knowing that their leader has their back and is dependable in any situation. 

(5) Honesty 

Good leaders need to be trusted so they should be honest and clear in their actions and words. It’s important that the organisation is seen as honest and having integrity, the leader needs to be able to show that integrity to the workforce to ensure that they too are being honest and trustworthy.

(6) Decisiveness 

Leaders need to be able to make decisions, sometimes difficult ones and often don't have much time to do so. While teams will often be asked for their input on decisions, leaders have the final say and will need to be firm and decisive to inspire confidence. 

(7) Delegation

A good leader will always delegate tasks among their team rather than taking on too much themselves. Delegating responsibilities is a sign of trust, and a team that feels trusted is more likely to be motivated and successful as a result. 

This may interest you:
A Fine Balance Between A Task Leader And A People Leader
When in Doubt, Leaders Should Ask Questions

Why Are Leadership Skills So Important?

Leadership skills are important when it comes to hiring a new employee because they indicate that the candidate will be able to bring out the best of their team members and help them to achieve their goals. Leadership skills are particularly important when it comes to hiring managers, who will need to be able to motivate their group and delegate tasks to those most suitable. Good managers possess a range of important leadership skills, and you can test for these when you're hiring.

Non-management positions also benefit from leadership skills, as they'll be able to motivate and encourage their fellow colleagues. Hiring a candidate with good leadership abilities also means that they're more likely to succeed and advance within the organisation. This can help to reduce the amount of time spent hiring for new positions, as you'll be able to promote from within.

How to Assess Leadership Skills in Your Candidates

Compared to other aspects, leadership skills can be difficult to identify and judge during the selection process. While people often include leadership skills on their CV, it's hard to know how competent of a leader they really are. Looking for candidates who have previously held management positions would be a good start, but there are plenty of managers who are poor leaders, just as there are plenty of non-managers with excellent leadership skills.

Read more: The Dos and Don’ts of Recruiting Top Tier Talent

Interviews offer a great opportunity to learn more about a candidate and assess their leadership capabilities. You can ask (situational) questions that reveal a person's morals and character and inquire about previous times they've had to show leadership skills at some point in their lives. Those who have had previous entrepreneur experience can also be promising leaders in many cases.

While interviews can reveal a lot about a person, a more detailed analysis is often required to get the best results. If you really want to improve your hiring process and find the best leaders, you need to take a different approach. The best way to assess a candidate's leadership skills is by performing a pre-employment personality test. These tests are sat by the candidates, usually after the initial round of interviews. They're designed to give you a better understanding of each candidate and their character.

Popular leadership tests for pre-employment include:

  • DISC Personality TestThe DISC Test is one of the most commonly used types of pre-employment personality tests. It was developed by a clinical psychologist and looks at the four main aspects of a person's personality. These are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness. This exam can help you gain a deeper understanding of each of your prospects and develop successful team collaboration and communication methods.
  • The 16 Types Test - The 16 types test is similar to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). It provides information about a candidate's motivation, information processing style, decision-making style, and preferred lifestyle. The test findings should not be used for evaluative purposes but rather as a means of getting to know the candidate better and generating conversation starters for an interview.

Final Thoughts

Leadership evaluation is critical when it comes to identifying individuals who can make a difference to your organisation. The hiring process is not easy, and it can be difficult to properly assess leadership skills from an interview alone. Luckily, pre-employment personality assessments make it much easier to choose the ideal candidate for the role. 

Supplementary reading: Take a Look at Yourself in the Leadership Mirror

This article is also available in Chinese.


Check out the media below to further explore leadership notes:

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