Once you have interviews lined up with your most promising candidates, it’s important to come up with a reliable game plan to get the full picture of whether they will be a good fit for your needs. It’s not just interviewees that need to prepare and do their homework before the big day. Interviewers should also prepare a list of high-quality questions that will help to determine the leadership potential of a candidate within a management position. This article discusses some key interview question themes that can help you decide whether a candidate has the leadership skills necessary with a particular focus on giving candidates specific scenarios to work through.

Communication and Motivation

A leader is a leader because they are able to inspire and motivate others toward a common goal. The ability to communicate clearly and obtain buy-in from various stake holders are two critical elements of being a good manager. Ask how your candidate has gained commitment from their team in the past. Ask them about their communication style and how it has been effective in difficult situations. What does your candidate consider to be the most important values they demonstrate as a leader? These sorts of questions help you decide whether they are likely to be a good fit for your company, and whether they would be a successful leader of their prospective team.

The Failure

Asking about a candidate’s weaknesses is a common interview technique, but be careful how you gauge their response. It is more important how they answer these types of questions than what their specific weakness is, or is perceived to be. Failures in particular can be a touchy subject, but asking about failure in general and how good leaders recover will help you to better understand their thought process. You may or may not choose to ask for a specific example of a past failure, but keep in mind that everyone fails. Only the great leaders in the industry are able to embrace and learn from their failures. Discussing how a candidate dealt with a particular challenge, analyzed the events that led to the issue, and solicited feedback from other stakeholders will give you a clearer picture of how they might address similar problems in the future.


By giving candidates a theoretical challenge or situation to work through, you are asking them to share their thought process with you in real time. So many questions can be prepared for and practiced, but scenario-style questions are less predictable. Therefore, you can be more confident in the sincerety of their answer. When thinking up a scenario to present, you have a couple of different options. You can invent a challenge that could potentially be an issue for the position in the future, or you could draw from past experiences to learn about what could have possibly been done better. The choice is yours, but remember to keep it relevant and realistic for best results.

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