April 4, 2016

5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Hiring for Leadership Positions


Effective leaders get things done. They drive and sustain high levels of performance in their organizations, provide positive reinforcement, offer constructive feedback, are self-aware, and excel as visionaries, communicators, and motivators. Moreover, their coworkers respect them. While they exude strength and take decisive action, the best leaders also know how to be patient. They help resolve mistakes made by those they manage, rather than dwell on them.

Hiring effective leaders is easier said than done, but it’s crucial. The best leaders can provide companies with powerful advantages in even the most competitive industries.

To help you recruit top managers, [email protected], UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s online MBA program, has put together this list of five questions to ask yourself when interviewing or screening prospective leaders. These questions will help you uncover whether or not a candidate has the critical traits that all great leaders share.

1. Does the Candidate Demonstrate Integrity?

Effective leaders demonstrate integrity and build trust with their employees. They mean what they say and say what they mean because they understand that teams are most effective when they know they can trust their leaders. Great leaders take action when they say they’ll take action, meet deadlines, and admit their shortcomings. They strive to develop their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses. Effective leaders remain consistent in their actions, values, methods, principles, expectations, and outcomes.

2. Is the Candidate open to Collaboration?

Teamwork is key to achieving organizational objectives, and great leaders understand that. The idea is simple enough: The more you collaborate, the more you communicate, and the more you communicate, the more you create. Effective leaders know why it’s important to rely on the intelligence and resourcefulness of the people they manage and realize that a silo mentality can kill a business. They are confident in their employees and delegate tasks to them.

3. Can the Candidate Calmly Solve Problems Under Pressure?

BackpackerEffective leaders know how to stay cool under pressure. They face stress, deadlines, and occasional crises, but always remain level-headed in the heat of potentially explosive situations. They know that if they shut down or act rashly, it could have a negative effect on their teams.

4. Does the Candidate Have a Passion for Professional Development?

A passion for learning and ongoing professional development distinguishes effective leaders from those who are in a position of power simply for the title. Effective leaders support and nurture their employees. They’re passionate about what they do, and they want to inspire those around them with the same level of energy. They learn not only from their only experiences, but also from the wisdom of others. By nature, they are obsessed with personal growth: They know that new knowledge produces higher-quality decisions.

5. Will the Candidate Encourage Divergent Opinions

Effective leaders do not suppress alternative ideas and opinions. They see divergent opinions as opportunities to enhance team performance and as competitive advantages. They know that diverse opinions lead to creativity and out-of-the-box ideas. Multiple studies have shown that organizations that are diverse are more innovative, faster to market, and more profitable. Effective leaders accept this as fact: Differing opinions lead to improved strategic, financial, and social outcomes.

If you want to hire a great leader for your team, you want to hire someone who demonstrates all of the qualities outlined above. It may not be easy, but rigorous screening and intensive analysis of leadership candidates’ personalities and beliefs is well worth it. You’ll see that when you hire your next effective leader.

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Alison Napolitano is a Senior Marketing Manager at 2U where she supports all community outreach for 2U's programs. Alison has a background in digital marketing and a passion for helping great brands succeed online.