Identifying Leaders In The Recruitment Process

November 10, 2021

Identifying leaders in the recruitment process can make a big difference for those working in the team and the attributes and skills that someone needs to be a leader can be a key part of what you look for when recruiting.


What Skills & Qualities Are Needed For Effective Leadership?

Effective leaders enhance their team’s success, and work under the expectation that as a leader, they’re responsible for the team and can rise to any challenge they may all have to face. 

The effectiveness of a leader determines how successful a business and its teams will be overall. The use of leadership styles and techniques should drive growth and development in an organisation.

There isn’t one singular guaranteed way to effectively lead a team, there are however common qualities and skills effective team leaders demonstrate in their work.

Having the right skills to be a team leader is about more than just being able to have people follow your orders. A good leader is confident, professional, and fair, they know their team – their strengths and their weaknesses – and they know themselves and how others perceive them. They are personable, approachable and act as a mentor to their staff.


Identifying Skills

Find out whether or not the previous leadership skills are present can be done through an online assessment. Generally, these skills can be identified in the recruitment process – and in staff development - through use of an array of question types. Below are examples of how you may assess these skills in a candidate.


Growth mindset with the ability to embrace failure

A leader that constantly strives to develop not only themselves, but their team overall not only creates an encouraging work environment but makes way for team strengths to grow. A strong and effective leader possesses the foresight to view ‘failure’ as an opportunity for development as opposed to viewing it as an all-around disaster. 

These skills can be identified through a series of likert questions. For example, using statements such as ‘When I find a task hard, I recognise it is because I am still developing my skills in that area’/’I find certain tasks hard because I am not naturally good in those areas’ or ‘Every task I complete needs to be perfect first time’/’I will work on tasks, accepting help when required, until the solution is reached’ – the subtle difference in these two statements alone, paired with a candidate selection, which is most like them/least like them will give insight into whether they have a growth mindset or fixed mind set. 


Strong communication skills

A leader’s ability to clearly articulate plans and vision, as well as the capacity to truly listen and understand what others are saying forms good communication skills. With strength in communication, respect and trust are built by employees for their leader as they are never feeling unsure or unheard, and even when they need clarity or feel they need to share their thoughts more clearly themselves, they are more comfortable in doing so knowing their leader has a strong basis for communication.

Again, could be done in the form of a likert question – but this time with a scale starting at ‘Not at all’ or ‘Rarely’ to ‘Very Often’. Candidates can rate themselves next to statements such as ‘When I finish writing an email, I quickly scan it for any possible typing errors and read it back to myself to be sure I’ve written what I wish to say’, ‘When I’m talking to someone, I constantly think of what I’m going to say next to ensure I get my point across’, ‘I consider any possible cultural barriers when planning communications’ et c.; the statements should generally remain as neutral as possible in tone. 

The results drawn from this assessment will give clear insight into the communication skills of the candidate(s). A verbal reasoning test could also be used to assess a candidate’s communication skills. When given a passage of text, or perhaps a video to watch, and asked the key points of the passage, a candidate’s understanding is tested – communication is just as much about what someone takes away from a conversation as it is about what they offer to it.


Empathy and support paired with a positive attitude

Employees place a lot of respect in an empathetic leader. When leadership offers understanding support alongside a positive attitude, teams feel more truly encouraged and have the belief that expectations can be met and will be reached with a higher standard than that of a team doing so under a colder, less forgiving leader. Of course, work is a place for professionalism and high standards, but at the end of the day employees are still only human – and their welfare affects their work, not just their emotions.

These skills could be measured in the form of an SJT (Situational Judgement Test), presenting a scenario and asking how the candidate would react. There would be options that are more empathetic/compassionate, some more direct and the way in which they respond will give insight into their empathy.


Recognising achievements

Too often, employees are more frequently reminded of their shortcomings and under-rewarded for their success. It isn’t a case of over complimenting minor achievements but remembering to frequently encourage employees by recognising when goals have been reached. By noting achievements, teams, and the individuals within them, feel valued and appreciated by their leaders.

Through use of a 360 assessment – in an already established team & leader – it’d be clear whether the employees feel like their achievements are truly recognised and rewarded accordingly, and how this compares to the way in which the leader views themselves.


Motivating and inspiring

The best leaders drive a team passionately and with great enthusiasm. Investing time in employees, determining their strengths and needs allows for prioritisation. Not only does this create a great sense of value to their work, but it also helps them gain a better understanding of their motivating factors. 

This could be done in the form of a free text question, as outright as asking a leader/potential leaders would lead their team. Their answer would give insight into how they may go about encouraging their subordinates.


Leading by example – not force – with the desire to learn

Seeing a leader actively engaging with the company and leading by example motivates their employees to work equally as hard and continually push themselves to be better. When employees know that their leaders would only ask employees to complete tasks that they are just as willing to do themselves, it diminishes the risk of a negative culture of bitterness building.

A  rank question could be used. The candidate would be presented with a scenario, and given a number of options of how they’d respond. They’d rank them in the order of most preferred to least preferred. This is very similar to an SJT, the difference is cosmetic – how the question is presented differs.

campaign-creators-gMsnXqILjp4-unsplash (1)

Ability to delegate tasks with realistic expectations – knowing the strengths and weakness of not only the team as a whole, but the individuals within the team

Empowering employees through engagement and development opportunities creates a sense of ownership within individuals of their work. Challenging a team with realistic but high expectations whilst remaining encouraging and offering the correct support gives autonomy over work and creates a greater sense of authority in how work is completed by the individuals as well as allowing innovation and proactivity.

A set of SJT questions would be suitable in identifying a candidate’s ability to delegate tasks. For example, a candidate is presented with a scenario such as ‘You are nearing a deadline for a client project, and realise your teams are slightly behind in some of their work. Please select which statement is most and least like the way you’d respond to this situation.’, the candidate would then be given several statements detailing different responses to the scenario, and they’d select which statement is most and least like them. The statements listed would be a mixture of the most desired response from the employer, a desirable response but not the first preference of the employer and the response in which the employer would hope a candidate chooses against doing. The answers given to an array of scenarios will show the delegating abilities of a candidate across multiple situations they may face in a leadership role within the organisation.


Innovation in problem solving and making difficult decisions

The ability to make tough decisions with limited time and possibly limited information is essential. Being able to determine what is required and offering alternative options creates ease in the decision-making process. With confident decisions come greater chances to capitalise on opportunities as well as gaining respect from employees.

The use of an abstract reasoning question would offer insight into the problem-solving abilities of the candidate. The ability to understand verbal and non-verbal ideas is measured, for example a candidate is given a series of images and asked to predict a pattern by selecting which image may come next in the sequence.



When a leader is resilient, they can recover quickly from difficult situations or changes. With resilience comes adaptability, relying on confidence and optimism – essential in supporting a team in the pursuit of meeting targets as well as offering guidance in times of transition or uncertainty.

Drag and drop – asking how they feel surrounding resilience – subjective so they aren’t scored low, it’s dependent on how they view their resilience. Give scenarios in which resilience would be tested, candidate can say how comfortable they are with the scenarios/how they’d be affected by them



An honest and trustworthy leader provides employees with a leader they can rely on. Naturally, employees will judge a leader by their character, when integrity is prevalent in a leader, they’ll inevitably be viewed in a more positive light and as someone employees can put faith into and get behind.

Social desirability questions, aimed to look at whether someone is trying to provide a response they think are the desired response as opposed to a true reflection of themselves – they’re blended into the rest of the assessment, so candidates aren’t aware it is a social desirability question.


For further information regarding the use of online assessment in your recruitment process, Book a Demo 

Morgan Place - Marketing Assistant