How to spot a potential leader while hiring

How to spot a potential leader while hiring

The simple yet dreaded “Tell me about yourself?” question is an effective ice-breaker in an interview. It can be quite useful to the hiring manager to gauge the candidate’s personality to a great extent. But the question here is, how does one spot the person who has the potential to be a leader in the workplace?

Qualities of a leader

Good articulation

A major part of a leader’s job is to delegate to his team and get things done. In order to communicate a task and goals, one needs to be able to articulate their thoughts succinctly. If team members understand their leader effectively, the work that they produce is bound to be of superior quality. Proficiency in non-verbal communication is a plus.

The ability to listen

An ideal leader is a good listener, always open to feedback, suggestions, and even criticism from his or her colleagues. In any team, it is important to take everyone’s opinions and concerns into account.

Being organized

The key to being an effective leader is to be able to plan and execute goals and strategies while having a clear vision of the future.


A good leader is honest and transparent with all of his/her dealings, ensuring that their actions are consistent with their words. Furthermore, a leader is not afraid to admit their flaws and accepts the responsibility for mistakes made by him/her.

The art of persuasion

As a leader, it is important to establish one’s credibility. Creating an environment in which the people listening to him/her would accept the points put forth is crucial. One can do this by being humble while trying to persuade the audience, while emotionally connecting with the audience at the same time. A judgment of the audience’s state of mind and background can help in this regard.

A person sitting and listening to someone speak usually wonders, “what’s in it for me?” By addressing this question, one can ensure that the people who he/she is talking to will accept his/her opinion in good faith.

Being adaptable

A good leader needs to be flexible enough to deal with mishaps or last-minute changes that occur in the workplace.

How can you spot a natural leader?

Asking the right questions and keeping an ear open for the right answers will help you find your perfect candidate! Some of the questions that can be asked are:

  1. Tell me about a time when your teammates faced a problem and you decided to take charge.

Red flag: The candidate seems to have been dominating over his/her colleagues and has an overall negative outlook towards them or lacks the confidence to deal with issues altogether.

You’ve found the next leader if the candidate shows the quality of being able to take the front seat in the face of trouble while utilizing everybody’s help.

  • When was the last time you had to deal with a difficult colleague or team? How did you resolve the issues?

Red flag: Badmouthing colleagues, defying authority, or starting conflicts in the workplace are sure signs of a failed leader in the making.

Hire the candidate if she looks at things from all perspectives and, if need be, makes compromises or negotiations.

  • Was there ever a time where you were assigned a task which you found hard to complete? What did you do in that situation?

Red flag: A candidate who gives up easily or isn’t willing to shoulder extra responsibilities is definitely the wrong one.

You’ve stumbled upon a fearless leader in the making if the candidate isn’t afraid to step out of her comfort zone, and shows the ability to work with available resources, asking for help if needed.

  • Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses.

Red flag: The candidate rambles on and on about how hardworking, helpful and intelligent he/she is, making weaknesses sound like minor setbacks in his/her life.

A leader with a strong presence of mind keeps the job description in mind and highlights the skills that he/she possesses. A potential leader knows how to turn skills into strengths and puts a positive spin on the weaknesses.

A great leader has the power to influence people in his/her team to work towards favorable goals. Leaders aren’t born; they are made. To spot the perfect candidate who has the potential to lead a team in the company, one needs to pay keen attention to the candidate in question. After all, hiring the wrong person may cost you!



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