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How to assess leadership skill in candidates: Passion, Communication ability, Collaboration, Problem-solving and risk management and Delegating tasks effectively

How to assess leadership potential in candidates

One of the most critical things that you will need to assess during the hiring process when hiring for management roles is whether the candidate possesses leadership skills. Even if you are not hiring for a management position, it would be a better choice when you have someone with good leadership skills who can grow and advance within the organization. Butleadership skills can be assessed and developed in people. So, how do you recruit candidates with leadership skills? More so, can you help develop leadership potential in candidates? Here are a few things that can help you, if you are looking for recruits with leadership ability.

Table of Contents

  • Passion
  • Communication ability
  • Collaboration
  • Problem-solving and risk management
  • Delegating tasks effectively
  • Good role models
  • How to build leadership potential in candidates
  • Final thoughts

In short, leadership skills are all about a person’s capacity to be able to lead a group. It is also about how well they manage the individuals in a group and get the best out of them. A leader comes with some inborn abilities and personality qualities that are either inborn or can be developed. A leader will have the ability to manage a diverse set of situations. While leadership attributes can be strengthened and nurtured during a person’s career, they can definitely be identified during the hiring process. Leadership styles vary depending on the leader but the best leader knows inherently which is the right style that will extract the right response from the team.

Compared to other aspects, identifying and evaluating leadership traits during an interview process can be difficult. People do mention their leadership qualities in their resume; however, it is hard to know how competent they really are. 

Interviews are a great starting point to assess leadership traits. During the interview, you can ask situational questions that give you an idea about their morals and character. You can also ask questions about previous times when they have had to exhibit their leadership skills at some point in their lives. For instance, someone with a previous entrepreneurial experience may definitely be a promising leader because of their exposure. 

There are many qualities in a leader that you need to evaluate and whether they can be an asset to your company.


Passion is easy to identify. A candidate exhibits it the moment they begin to speak, especially about their experiences, work ethic and principles. They will express a keen intent to learn and to engross themselves in their work. Such individuals are motivated and will climb up the ladder and guide the whole team. They want to make a difference to the company. Sample questions that you can ask a candidate are:

  • Did you have an experience where something went wrong and you had to control the situation? How did you handle the whole experience?
  • How would you encourage your team to improve their performance? If there were issues, how did you detect and address them?

Communication ability

While good communication is an important skill, not all good communicators are effective leaders. Candidates must be able to articulate their thoughts clearly and be good listeners too. When asked a vague question, they will try to break it down and sometimes even take a pause. This shows that they are actively thinking. To assess this, you may question them in the following way:

  • Tell me about your experience when you had to handle a tough customer. What was their challenge and how did you handle it?
  • Have you ever suggested an idea to your company? What was the idea and how did you get a buy-in for it?


A key trait of leadership is to know when to delegate and when to take over and be hands-on. Teamwork and collaboration are hallmarks of great leaders. Good leaders have great confidence but they are also humble and listen to others. They have good body language, posture and eye contact. A good leader will not hesitate to work with others and knows inherently that two heads are better than one. Sample questions that you can ask to assess this quality are:

  • Did you have to work with a difficult colleague on any task? Share your experience. How was the interaction and what was the outcome?
  • Was there a situation where you had to use your expertise to help a colleague out? What happened and was the problem solved?

Problem-solving and risk management

Good leaders do not hesitate to try something new that enhances the growth of the business. They weigh the pros and cons and make an objective decision to arrive at a logical decision. They look at a situation and generate possible solutions and non-conforming ideas. Some questions that you can ask to assess these abilities are:

  • In a stressful situation, where you had to act very fast, what did you do and what was the outcome?
  • Was there a stressful situation where you had to make a significant decision, knowing that you would be judged on that decision by key players later on?

Delegating tasks effectively

Overseeing all aspects of a business and effectively disseminating tasks to ensure efficiency and productivity is crucial to a leader. Even though they have given control to others, leaders remain plugged in with what is going on. They have a good relationship with their peers and empower them to complete the task on hand. You may ask the following questions to evaluate their capability to delegate:

  • Was there a stressful project where you had to delegate tasks to others? How did you decide which task should go to whom?
  • How do you ensure that tasks that you have allocated to them are finished and completed on time?

Good role models

Good leaders inspire, influence and motivate their colleagues. They display a positive attitude in both good and bad times. They speak with credibility, compassion and eloquence. They show by example how things have to be done and inspire others to follow their way of working. Good role models are hands-on and get involved in things without waiting for them to snowball into a crisis. A good way to assess this would be to ask the following questions:

  • Share an experience where you had to lead by example. How did your colleagues respond?
  • Did you, at any time, have to step in to motivate, encourage or help out a colleague? What was the outcome?

    How to build leadership potential in candidates

Any organization’s success is dependent on effective leadership. Identifying and nurturing leadership potential in candidates, on the other hand, can be a difficult task. Understanding what qualities make a good leader and providing the right opportunities for growth and development are required.

  1. Identify key leadership qualities: Before you can begin to develop candidates’ leadership potential, you must first understand what qualities make a good leader. Identifying these characteristics in candidates can assist you in focusing your efforts on developing their skills and abilities in these areas.
  2. Provide growth opportunities: Assigning them to projects or teams where they can take on more responsibility and develop their skills is one example. You can also offer leadership training and development programmes that focus on communication, delegation, and conflict resolution.
  3. Encourage feedback and reflection: Giving candidates regular feedback and encouraging reflection can help them develop self-awareness and leadership skills.
  4. Foster a learning culture: Developing candidates’ leadership potential necessitates fostering a culture that values learning and development. This can be accomplished by providing ongoing learning resources such as books, workshops, and conferences.

Finally, providing candidates with leadership opportunities can help them develop their skills and gain experience. This can include project management, team management, or even acting as a temporary leader. Candidates can practice their leadership skills and gain confidence in their abilities by providing these opportunities.

Final thoughts

While interviews are a great way to assess leadership potential, you will need to also employ some detailed analysis later on. There are many pre-employment leadership tests in the marketplace that will enable you to assess the leadership traits of a potential candidate. These tests are designed to give you a better understanding of a potential candidate and their character. An interview alone may not be able to give you a complete idea of a person’s leadership ability. So a combination of questioning during an interview and administering some pre-employment personality assessments may help you identify the ideal candidate for your organization.

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