In this article I’m going to share how to select the four best leadership interview questions and how you can easily score and rank responses to ensure you select leaders who can quickly help you achieve the results you’re accountable for.  

As a leader, the most important decision you will make is selecting who joins your leadership team. Traditional leadership interview questions focus too much on job experience and not enough on job outcomes that are critical for your success as a leader. 

Leaders who select individuals based upon job experience over job outcomes, quickly regret their decision. They feel frustrated & stressed with the amount of time and energy required to coach, mentor, and invest in their development, “hoping” the new leader can learn how to achieve the required job outcomes.  

But the biggest negative impact is you being held accountable for not achieving the results you’re accountable for,  because you selected the wrong leader. 

3 Step System 

To avoid making this mistake, all you need to do is implement the system all successful leaders use – they require the selection of all new leaders who have successfully accomplished past job outcomes, that align to and contribute to the key outcomes they’re accountable, by asking very specific leadership interview questions.  

To help you become a more confident and successful, I’m going to share with you a simple 3 steps system to identify the best leadership interview questions specific to your team, and how to evaluate and score interview responses, so you can build a team of leaders around you who have the knowledge, skills, desire, and prior job experience achieving the job outcomes that align to and contribute to your success.  

Step 1 – Identify Your Key Outcomes 

First you will identify the key outcomes you and your leaders are accountable for achieving. What must you increase, decrease, or achieve within a balance set of four pillars, all leaders are required to focus on – customers, operations, workforce, and finances.  

You will do this by creating a five-column table like what is show below. The first column lists the four pillars, the second column is to document the key outcomes you are accountable for, followed by your direct reports, managers, and supervisors the key outcomes they are accountable for achieving within each of the four pillars.

Beginning with yourself, identify and document 2 to 4 key outcomes, what must you increase, decrease, or achieve within each of the four pillars – the key outcomes your boss expects of you to achieve. Let me give you an example within each of the four pillars, starting with the customer pillar.  

  • Let’s say your boss requires you to achieve 95% overall customer satisfaction. 
  • For the operations pillar, reduce overall error rate to less than 1 per 1,000. 
  • Regarding your workforce, achieve overall 90% employee retention rates. 
  • And a financial outcome of reducing employee overtime dollars.     

With the identification of the 2 to 4 key outcomes you are accountable for achieving, – next is to identify what you expect of your direct reports, as well your managers and front line supervisors – what must each achieve that aligns to and supports the key outcomes you’re accountable for. Of course, you can customize the leadership titles based upon your position within the organization.  

Step 2 – Select Leadership Interview Questions 

With the identification of the key outcomes by pillar and leadership position type, step 2 Is where you will select at least 1 key outcome, within each of the 4 pillars – customer, operations, workforce, and finances, and translate each outcome into a leadership interview question, of course using the outcomes for the leadership position level you are interviewing for.  

  • For example, a customer related leadership interview question might be: One of our key customer outcomes is to achieve 95% customer satisfaction levels. What has been your experience developing, deploying, measuring, and achieving customer satisfaction levels at or above 95% satisfaction?
  • Using the operations, product error rate outcome example, a great leadership interview questions could be: We require leaders to put systems in place to reduce product error rates below 1 per 1,000. Can you please give two examples of how you put in the required systems to measure, monitor, and reduce product error rates below 1 per 1,000? 
  • A workforce leadership interview question may include a question such as: We strive to create a workforce engagement culture that will achieve over 90 percent employee retention rates. Can you please tell me your experience creating a workforce engagement culture that resulted in employee retention rates above 90%?  
  • A finally, a finance related leadership question. We require all leaders to manage their workforce that will minimize employee overtime. Can you please give two examples, how you have monitored and reduced employee overtime?  

Step 3 – Create Response Scoring System 

With the selection of at least four leadership interview questions- one for each of the four pillars you want to ask potential new leaders, Step 3 – is where you will create scoring system to evaluate and rank each response. I like to use a simple, zero-to-five-point scoring system to systematically evaluate possible new leaders to your team.   

  • Zero points for the person who has none or only 1 of the key job outcome experience, you require. 
  • 3 points for the person who has job outcome experiences with 2 or 3 of your pillar outcomes. 
  • And 5 points for a person who has job outcome experience with all four pillar outcomes.

An additional method to evaluate potential new leaders is to listen carefully to the responses and evaluate how long they take to respond. If they pause or require a significant amount of time to think of an example, or they can’t provide one, this is not someone want on your leadership team to assist you achieve the results, you’re accountable for. But if the person being interviewed can quickly provide several examples of past job outcomes, they helped achieve that align to and support the key outcomes you are accountable for, that is a person you should seriously consider promoting to your team.  

#1 Leadership Position Postings Requirement 

Traditional leadership position advertisements include a minimum number of years of experience, educational requirements, and a list of skills and competencies to be considered eligible to be interviewed. Successful leaders advertise leadership position openings differently. They include the requirement to have prior experience achieving the leadership job outcome requirements for that position to even be eligible for a job interview.  

Why spend any time interviewing someone for a position that requires specific measurable outcomes, when the person being interviewed has never achieved similar outcomes in prior leadership positions? Who cares how many years of experience, skills, and competencies they have, if they have not been able to successful use their experience, skills, and competencies to achieve the key leadership outcomes you require! 

Making this small enhancement to how you determine who is eligible for leadership position interviews will have a profound positive impact to not only you as a leader, but your entire organization.  

For example, If I’m an employee and I want to get promoted to a supervisor, what must I do in my current position right now BEFORE I even apply? Demonstrate job outcomes like those required of supervisors while in my current position. 

What must a supervisor do if they want to be eligible to be interviewed for a manager’s position? Demonstrate the outcomes in their current position, right now, that align to and supports the required manager position job outcomes. 

Don’t fall into the trap of believing a potential new leader to your team MAY achieve the outcomes you require. Shift and raise your expectation and requirements to consider only those who HAVE achieved the job outcomes you require.  

Online Membership Courses

To Assist You Quickly Achieve The Results You’re Accountable For.
Strategy Execution PRO

An easy to implement, three step system designed to quickly develop & execute a plan to achieve your key strategic goals.

Learn More
Rapid Process Improvement

Learn a simple, yet highly effective three step system to rapidly improve the performance results you’re accountable for.

Learn More
Fire & EMS Excellence

How to develop a one page scorecard, with meaningful measure examples, and a rapid process improvement system.

Coming Soon