Five Essential Tips for Effective Leadership Interviews

effective leadership

Every company in the world is looking for effective leadership skills in their executive hires. But what does that mean, really? It’s hard enough to define the perfect set of leadership capabilities, let alone find them all in one person. And now, with a large part of the hiring process conducted online, finding the right people can seem impossible. 

You just have to define the characteristics that are most important, and cut through all of the interview fluff to recognize an effective leader when you see — or hear — one. It may seem intimidating, but when you have the right approach, it’s much easier.

In this article, we’ll start by examining the challenges of the remote interview process, and then we’ll provide you with tips and best practices that work.

The Challenge of Remote Interviewing

An ancient UCLA study is responsible for a widely circulated statistic that 93% of communication is non-verbal. Whether this 55-year-old study is still valid or not is debatable. We hardly need a psychologist, however, to tell us that we rely on non-verbal communication cues a lot. Ninety-three percent? Who knows. Yet, clearly, a phone interview feels different than an in-person interview.

However, many companies rely on remote interviewing, particularly in the early stages of the process. Expenses aside, many companies would prefer to interview in person. In-person interviews offer plenty of advantages. You can’t beat the visual cues that such interviews provide. The interviewing manager can assess body language as well as determine if there is an interpersonal connection. Video calls help to some extent, but the visuals can be delayed, incomplete, or even a bit fuzzy. Phone calls lack all of the visual cues, so the interviewer must rely on tone of voice and the words spoken.

Hiring with Intention

The most progressive companies today are deliberate about the processes they implement. This includes the hiring process. In order for companies to develop and maintain a certain culture, they need to bring in the right people. This means that they hire those who share the same values. 

It’s impossible to create a culture of, for example, inclusivity, when you hire managers who are all within the same demographic. You couldn’t create a nimble culture if your managers were inflexible and rigid. Of course, culture can happen by accident. But it probably won’t be what leadership intended. When company leaders have a strong vision, they must work to carefully curate the culture. It must be deliberately built into your hiring process.

Finding the Skills That Matter

One of the most important parts of the hiring process is the interview. In particular, the leadership team will need to hire other leaders who have the skills that support the culture. This needs to happen whether you are interviewing remotely or in person. But it’s especially important that you take extra steps to ensure a successful remote interview. Here are five essential ways to ensure that you’re focused on the right things.

  1. Help your interviewee prepare

Although remote work has grown by leaps and bounds, some people are still troglodytes when it comes to newfangled technologies. Unless it’s critical to your company values, don’t use their inability to successfully use Zoom against them. 

In addition to telling them when and with whom the interview will take place, provide them with clear instructions on how to use the chosen platform. Let them know how long the interview will take and what they can do to prepare. The interview process is stressful. It says a lot about your company and its values when you roll out the welcome mat. 

  1. Define the capabilities you’re looking for

Even though remote interviews can be difficult, they also represent an opportunity. With fewer visual cues, the interview can focus on the actual skills and capabilities required. Is this someone who will, for example, excel in delivering more than they promised? How do they fit in with the critical parts of your culture? 

It’s not about the neighborhood they live in, the clubs they belong to, or the schools they attended. Focus on values. If your company is keen on collaboration, look for evidence that the interviewee understands how to work in and contribute to such an environment.

  1. Interview as you would in person

Just because you’re using remote technology doesn’t mean the interview has to be stiff. Establish rapport just as you would in the office. Give them a virtual office tour or tell them a little about recent company news. Just because you can’t see your interviewee from head to toe, doesn’t mean you lose all body language cues. Pay close attention so you’ll know when to stop talking and listen.

Lean in and find out more about how they have achieved success in previous assignments. Get curious. Even through the diversity of gender, race, religion and everything else, there are more commonalities across our lines of division than we might imagine. Look for them.

  1. Identify the ideal outcomes and benchmarks for the job

Many companies have job descriptions that represent a long laundry list of wishes from every stakeholder. But they fail to define key success outcomes needed to master the role. These job descriptions also encourage interviewees to reinvent themselves to fit the role.

A successful outcome is about what the business is trying to achieve. No business exists to create project plans and status reports. Success outcomes definitively answer the question of how success looks. From these success outcomes, you can generate questions that focus on proving the capabilities needed.

  1. Focus your interview questions on key capabilities

If you asked a dozen CEOs to list the most important leadership qualities, they would come up with too many characteristics to choose from. Indeed, there are many different types of leaders with different traits and characteristics. Even still, there are three important leadership traits that embody all the rest. They include the following:

  • Relentless learner 
  • Developer of people 
  • Driver of results 

These are the competencies that underscore our Y Scouts Leadership Model. These leaders understand that learning is more valuable than knowing. The best leaders have an innate hunger for knowledge, and they are intensely curious about the world around them. They surround themselves with strong team members and consistently inspire and invest in others. 

Further, they combine stamina and an unwavering work ethic with the know-how to get things done. If a leader demonstrates these characteristics, they can go far.

At Y Scouts, we find leaders that provide a competitive advantage. Traditional hiring methods don’t go far enough. Today’s progressive companies need more. Hiring must align the needs of the business with the right people. Y Scouts has a unique and innovative approach that will get you where you need to go. If you’re looking for your next executive, Y Scouts will help you find the right person.