Use Behavioral Interview Questions to Discover Leadership Skills

A team is only as strong as its leader.
If you’re interviewing candidates for a position of this nature, you need to make sure you choose the right person. Behavioral interview questions are the best way to learn more about a candidate’s fit for the position, so include plenty that focus specifically on leadership, to gather plenty of telling information.


When interviewing each candidate, ask these behavioral questions to find the best leader for the job.

Describe an occasion when you had to complete a major project in a short period of time.

Sometimes your team has months to complete projects and others appear last minute. You need a leader who doesn’t back down to pressure. Press deep to find out the type of challenges the candidate faced, what they did to overcome them and the final results of the project. You want someone who remains calm under pressure, can adapt to changes with a moment’s notice and doesn’t stop working until the job is done right. If their response doesn’t indicate these qualities, move on to the next.

Share a time when you didn’t see eye-to-eye with a colleague, and how you resolved it.

Even the best leaders sometimes clash with their peers, but it’s how they handle these disagreements that matters. You can’t have a leader with a one-dimensional mindset. If the person mentions resolving the issue by listening to one another’s prospective, take this as a good sign. Conversely, anyone unable to work out issues is probably not the kind of person who should be in a leadership role.

Tell me about the most challenging group of people you’ve ever led.

Hearing about the different personalities the candidate has worked with in the past is interesting, but that isn’t the focus with this question. Instead, zero in on the difficulties that made this group so challenging to lead and how the person handled the situation. Most leaders don’t get to choose their teams, so you need someone willing to make the best of the hand they’re dealt. If the candidate discusses the manner in a positive light, appearing unruffled and explaining what they learned from the situation, they’re likely a great choice.

How do you balance your leadership responsibilities with your workload?

Leading a team typically isn’t an entire job in itself. This question is to make sure the person can handle competing priorities. Gaining insights on how they manage their time to complete their own work, while keeping the team moving helps you see if they’re up for the challenge. It takes a very special type of person to do it all, and details of past experiences can be very telling. If the candidate seems stressed or apprehensive about their ability to excel in these dual roles, keep searching until you find someone who doesn’t bat an eye about completing both.

After learning more about each candidate’s leadership skills, you should feel confident in your hiring decision. If the right person isn’t in the first batch of people you interview, keep searching until you find the best fit to lead your team. To learn more about how we can help you find top behavioral health talent, contact us today at (513) 651-9500 or by email at

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