As organisations grow, executives and business owners go to great lengths to recruit at least some people with leadership potential, and not just for succession planning. Even the recruitment of entry-level supervisors often necessitates painstaking (and painful) processes for employers and candidates alike.
It’s not uncommon for psychometric tests to be included, like the five-hour monstrosity I was once invited to complete for a promotion, the results of which revealed me to be “below average” in all four of the areas tested. “But don’t worry,” said the psychologist over the phone. “Out of everyone in the ‘below average’ category, you were the best.”
So, basically, out of all the losers, I was the biggest loser. That’s what she was saying. Another tactic is the inclusion of abstract interview questions such as this little beauty I’ve been asked: “If you were playing Russian roulette and someone handed you the gun, would you spin the barrel before shooting or just shoot? Explain your response.”
It’s now years later and I still can’t explain why nonsensical questions like those are asked of leadership aspirants, which is why we can give thanks to The Leadership Quarterly, one of the world’s most scientifically rigorous academic journals, for publishing the findings of research on the surest methods that reveal whether a candidate can someday step up.
The researchers interviewed 152 supervisors from diverse industries and compared these interviews to role plays and self-evaluation questionnaires. But what made their study special is they also collected data from the candidates’ employees so they could determine their well-being and loyalty. Because if the candidates truly are great leaders, these are the real-life outcomes that’d be most illustrative of their performance.
As expected, the analysis proved the superiority of carefully constructed job interviews “over and above” the other assessment methods in predicting the candidates’ success as leaders.
Role plays, for instance, aren’t always authentic because candidates are putting on an act since “they are aware they are being evaluated”. Likewise in relation to evaluation questionnaires which, even when completed by employees about their leader, are usually a perception prone to bias. In contrast, measuring their actual well-being and loyalty is quantifiably reliable.
Insights on how to interview well can be gleaned by the way the researchers designed their interview guide.
Half the questions pertained to critical incidents from the past that required the candidate to describe an interaction with their employees during a challenging situation where more than one leadership style could have led to a desired outcome. Here’s an example:
“Think of a situation in which your employees were sceptical about a new work process you had to introduce and that was necessary for the effectiveness of the organisation. Please describe both the situation and your exact response in detail.”
The remaining half of the questions similarly focused on critical incidents but as a hypothetical like this example:
“Imagine that the team you manage has been given the responsibility for a novel project that is very important for your organisation. Your employees are already working at full capacity, and you must tell them about the project, but you do not yet have a clear picture of the project’s likelihood of success. Please describe how exactly you would proceed in this situation.”
Irrespective of whether it was past tense or future tense, three themes were explored by probing further. The first was around leadership tasks and responsibilities, the second was about relationships and support, while the third was on vision and change.
Crafting those questions effectively, delivering them with sufficient follow-ups, and then drawing conclusions from the overall experience necessitates training for interviewers. Because many forget the most talented candidates are interviewing them too.
Source: Thanks smh.com