Hiring the best and the brightest is of paramount importance for any business who wants to succeed in a competitive marketplace. First class leadership must be identified, recruited and evaluated on a regular basis. These important human resource challenges explain why so many companies turn to executive recruiters to harness their expertise for the purpose of recruiting industry stars with the leadership skills necessary to meet ambitious corporate objectives.

Executive recruiting firms are making it possible for companies to focus on operations instead of constantly taking the time to do the hard work of recruiting stellar executive leaders. While it is important for corporate managers to interview the top two or three candidates, it makes sense to outsource the remainder of the recruiting activities to experts who do this full-time, leveraging established networks to attract the right person.

Behavioral Leadership Questions

Behavioral leadership questions are designed to gain insights into how an executive will perform on the job in difficult situations by asking questions about how they performed in past positions. Below are some examples.

1. Describe a big challenge that you and your staff faced. How did you motivate your team to overcome that challenge?
2. Tell me about a time when you were forced to counsel an employee who was underperforming. What did you say? What were the results?
3. Describe a project or unpopular idea that you promoted to your team. What did you say and do to get buy-in from your staff members?
4. Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an employee complaint. How did you manage the situation?
5. Describe a sensitive situation when you had to manage staff members with a bad attitude and how you motivated them.
6. What have been the most significant team obstacles you have dealt with as a manager and how did you address these problems?
7. Tell me about a scenario where there was significant conflict between members of your team. What steps did you take to de-escalate the situation?

Questions Designed to Evaluate Corporate Culture Compatibility

Success depends on compatibility between leaders and the corporate culture that business leadership purposefully creates. While leadership and technical skills are inarguably important for any executive’s ability to meet corporate objectives, it is equally crucial that they fit in with the culture.

1. Specifically, why are you interested in joining our company instead of pursuing other opportunities?
2. As a new leader, how will you build trust with your new colleagues? What strategies will you use to gain the support and respect of your employees and peers?
3. Why do you think you’re the right person for this job and this company?
4. Describe your management style and why you think it will work here?

Uncomfortable Interview Questions

There are certain interview questions that ask candidates to say something less than glowing about their abilities and background. The skill that candidates use when answering the most difficult questions provides a lot of insight into preparedness and communication skills as well as political acumen. Executives need to think on their feet with ease.

1. Based on the information you have learned about this opportunity, what are your weakest skills?
2. How long do you expect your learning curve to be before you start meeting set objectives?
3. What would we hear if we asked your least favorite boss what they thought about you?
4. What was unfair about your last job and the company?
5. What is the worst career mistake you have made and why? How would you change it now if you could?

Strategy Questions

Leadership roles involve strategic planning and moving the company forward in spite of difficult challenges, a poor economy, and steep competition. That’s why a thorough interview will include strategy questions designed to understand a candidate’s vision for the future.

1. Based on what you have learned about the company, what is the first project you expect to prioritize and why?
2. What do you view as this company’s competitive edge and how will you add to that?
3. What would you change about the company?
4. How would you handle a major disagreement with another company executive?
5. What strategies would you employ to bolster employee morale?

Conclusion

Fairly evaluating executives before hiring them is one of the most important tasks that any company hiring manager faces. Poor decisions for hiring at the top levels can literally ruin a business. Since executives are responsible for establishing objectives, managing employees and making big decisions, a bad hire can mean disaster. That is why many companies decide to hire headhunters to recruit the best person available.

While in-house recruiters can place ads and screen for candidates, executive recruiters can leverage their extensive network built over time to identify top performers who are employed and probably not actively looking to make a change. This expands the number of qualified candidates significantly.

Headhunters with influence can talk a candidate into interviewing with a company in cases where the candidate would have never otherwise considered making an unplanned career change. Executive recruiting firms with an excellent reputation get results when in-house human resources professionals are juggling many responsibilities and can find it difficult to spend the necessary time to recruit key executives.