Bad BossEmployees quit managers. In fact, 75 percent of employees quit the leaders they work for and not the company. Employees grumble and hit their breaking point, morale lowers and productivity suffers, all while recruiters and hiring managers take the blame. Whether you are considering a current employee or new applicant to fill a leadership role, looking for certain traits can help you skirt the bad-hire woes.

Emotional Intelligence

A great leader can remain cool under pressure, inspire subordinates to achieve new goals, and sense when and how to discipline. A candidate’s emotional intelligence (EI) is based on these traits. Someone who has high EI has the ability to identify, control, and manage emotion.

Similar to an IQ, determining a person’s EI is done through a test. Surprisingly, 71 percent of hiring managers find emotional intelligence more important than IQ, and 59 percent won’t hire a candidate with high IQ and low EI. The great thing about EI is that it can be improved. The University of Maryland says things like being aware of your gestures, lowering your stress, staying positive, and practicing effective conflict resolution are all great ways to heighten EI.

IN THE INTERVIEW: Ask questions about conflicts handled both in the office and in a candidate’s personal life. The resume is your gateway into the candidate’s life, so delve into short-lived jobs, past manager positions, or previous leadership they have worked under. All of this will open your eyes to the candidate’s management style, ability to handle stressful situations, and places where they have both already improved and still need to improve.

Morals, Values and Passions

Habits can be reworked, improved, and shifted, but morals, values, and passions are harder for people to change. These personality traits are innate and more important than seniority or goal completion in determining who is right for a promotion or a managerial position.

Only 1 in 10 individuals are natural leaders, and what makes an applicant a good leader is their ability to attract, develop, and engage talent. There are more leadership positions than there are natural-born leaders, which means it is necessary to find and train candidates who are open to improving.

IN THE INTERVIEW: Ask about hobbies, pastimes, and what a candidate would do if they had free time and unlimited funds. These may be common questions, but answers aren’t always examined for more than cultural fit. Take a more in-depth look at the answers: someone who loves to travel may be a more effective communicator, and someone who has worked with children may have great patience. Additionally, consider finding a strengths-based test that will give insight into the individual’s natural personality.


When planning to promote a current employee to a leadership role, you must consider their past attitude toward colleagues and projects. How often was the employee mild-tempered, cool when the going got tough, willing to give credit where credit was due, and simply engaged overall? Did the employee let personal life interfere with work productivity? Was he or she able to not only take criticism, but also improve because of it?

IN THE INTERVIEW: Attitude is harder to determine in new hires, but not impossible. Did the candidate radiate positivity with a smile, or did they seem withdrawn? How did the applicant speak of previous employment or leadership? Assess the way they entered your office, treated the secretary, or communicated in general.

A Gallup poll earlier this year found that companies fail to hire the right candidate 82 percent of the time when it comes to selecting managers. That, paired with the high cost of employee turnover, is incredibly terrifying, hence why hiring managers and recruiters feel consistent pressure to find the right fit. Finding a good leader for organizations is hard work, and yet vitally important, since 70 percent of employee engagement variance rests on managers. Hiring a manager poses a challenge, but with these tips in mind, any recruiter or hiring manager can do it.

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