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Hiring leaders: skills, strategies and tools


Great leaders are rare.

According to Gallup, they are so rare that companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the job 82% of the time. When you add to this the fact that certain staffing and selection methods prevent companies from appointing outstanding CEOs, is it any wonder that hiring great leaders for our businesses is a challenge?

But don’t worry. Every cloud has a silver lining.

Just knowing that hiring a great leader can be a challenge is enough to ensure you take appropriate steps to hire the best. And there are many ways to hire great leaders for your organization – one of which is with leadership skills assessment.

Taking these factors into consideration, we have put together this post on how to hire great leaders for your organization.

Hire successful leaders by looking for these vital leadership skills 

There is a range of strong leadership skills that you should be looking for in your leader candidates. Some of these skills include:

1. Excellent communication skills

Your leader is going to be communicating with a range of employees and stakeholders. They should therefore be able to:

  • Interpret written communication

  • Communicate verbally with employees

  • Be active listeners

  • Communicate with clarity

  • Show empathy

  • Ask open-ended questions

Excellent workplace communication skills enable leaders to gain trust, rally the team around a shared goal, and inspire positive organizational change.

Pro tip: Use TestGorilla’s Communication test to assess and evaluate communication skills in candidates vying for leadership roles in your organization.

2. Time management skills

Keeping one eye on the clock and the other on your employees, your leader will need top time management skills. Can they:

  • Emphasize which tasks need prioritizing?

  • Plan particular projects with the support of their employees?

  • Reflect on tasks to enhance project performance for next time?

Leaders who can manage their time and energy in the workplace more effectively are more likely to improve the quality of the organization’s deliverables, reduce stress among employees, and make level-headed business decisions. Teams with an effective leader who can manage their time well are also more consistent with their productivity levels.

Pro tip: Use TestGorilla’s Time management test to assess and evaluate a candidate’s ability to prioritize, plan, manage, and execute projects within a specified period of time.

3. People management abilities.

Leading and people management are essential skills for your leaders. Your candidates will need to:

  • Provide feedback and guidance

  • Plan for and support the development of their employees

  • Bring together and unite employees so they work towards achieving a goal

A team headed by a leader with poor people management skills may suffer from low morale and feel more demotivated. All these could result in increased absenteeism, low employee retention, and even job abandonment. This means low productivity, which could reduce your business’s profitability.

Pro tip: Use TestGorilla’s Leadership and people management test to gauge and screen candidates for their ability to influence team members in your organization and unite them behind important business objectives.

4. Task delegation aptitudes

Task delegation is crucial when it comes to great leadership. This is a sub-skill that forms a part of people management. Can your candidates:

  • Successfully delegate tasks to their team members?

  • Delegate authority to their team?

  • Delegate in different contexts and scenarios?

A great leader knows how to handle and delegate ongoing tasks more effectively. For example, they tend to keep a calendar to track deadlines, run meetings efficiently, and know how to choose the right person for the task at hand.

Furthermore, they promptly respond to questions and requests and share the right resources to accomplish a task with team members.

5. The ability to inspire and share a company vision.

As a leader, your candidate should be the driving force in terms of motivation and inspiration. Do your candidates:

  • Communicate their ideas for change within the organization?

  • Seek to challenge the status quo?

  • Have the charisma required to inspire your employees?

Creating cohesion and inspiring employees to work towards a shared vision is an incredibly important leadership skill, especially in the age of remote and hybrid workplaces.

A great business leader draws people to your organization’s shared vision by being skilled in persuasion, radiating authenticity, embracing vulnerability, and having a deep sense of purpose.

Leadership job description

During the early stages of your hiring process, you will need to create a job description for your leadership position. You will want to include the skills, knowledge, and type of leadership experience required for the job.

How to write a good leadership job description

To write your leader job description, you will therefore need to put together a list of certain factors that you’re looking for. Think about the following points:

  • Are you hiring for a permanent or temporary leader? Due to the different employment contracts required, and to avoid attracting the wrong leader candidates for your vacancy, you will need to inform your candidates about this in the job description.

  • How much do your candidates align with your company culture? This is important as your leaders will need to be advocates for your organization. Don’t forget to describe your company culture in your job description.

  • Your leader will need to coordinate with team members and work independently as well, to plan towards the completion of projects. How competently can your leader candidates work both independently and as part of a team? 

  • Which hard skills will be required for your leaders within your particular industry? If you are hiring a developer leader, for instance, are they familiar with mobile UX design? Can they lead their team with this knowledge and impart their skills to others?

Below, you will find a job description sample that you can customize for your leadership job description. Take a look.

Leadership job description template

[YOUR COMPANY NAME] is looking for a leader who will inspire our team members and drive productivity and growth.

What is the role of a leader?

At [COMPANY NAME] our leaders are more than just people who give instructions to other team members. They directly support, coach, and mentor our teams, so they succeed.

Leadership job responsibilities

[COMPANY NAME]’s leaders guide team members through challenges and rise to the occasion to motivate them. 

Some of the responsibilities you will take on include:

  • Assisting team members and answering questions

  • Communicating with team members and stakeholders to clarify projects 

  • Identifying areas where team members might need training

  • Leading team meetings to remind team members of best practices

  • Communicating team milestones, goals, or achievements 

  • Resolving team conflicts 

  • Providing feedback to team members and helping with team performance

  • Creating reports about the team’s performance

  • Supporting management in terms of hiring

  • Mediating between senior management and your team members

Leadership job requirements

The requirements you will need to meet are:

  • Excellent communication skills

  • Good time management skills

  • The ability to lead a team

  • The ability to manage a range of staff members

  • Task delegation skills

  • The ability to offer feedback to team members

  • Problem-solving skills

  • The ability to spot training needs

  • Skills in working independently and leading by example

  • BSc qualification in business management

Strategies for sourcing leaders for your organization

You’ll need to source great leaders for your organization, which can also be a challenge. This will also depend on whether you require a permanent or temporary leader, and which industry you are hiring a leader for.

Here are some of the recommended ways to source leaders for your organization for temporary and permanent positions.

Where to find leaders for temporary projects

  • Randstad. The Randstad job platform has a particular section for sourcing temporary staff, which includes leadership positions. Reach out to them by filling out a short form and start sourcing leader candidates for your vacancy.

  • Flexjobs. You can source temporary leaders for your organization through the Flexjobs job board. You will also find that Flexjobs is ideal for sourcing team leaders for flexible schedules or part-time positions as well.

  • Robert Half. The Robert Half job board features a section for temporary staff sourcing. Source temporary team leaders by selecting the section marked ‘interim staffing’ and then filling in a form. The Robert Half job board is ideal for permanent staff sourcing too.

Where to find permanent team leaders

  • LinkedIn. For sourcing permanent team leaders, LinkedIn is a useful platform. Simply create your company profile and post your leader job description. You can then use an applicant tracking system that features a LinkedIn integration to manage your applicants. 

  • Robert Half. The Robert Half job platform features a section for permanent, full-time employees for your organization. Discover permanent team leaders by completing a short form and selecting how you want to hire (either by working with a recruiter or handling the hiring yourself).

  • The Ladders. Access a large talent pool for permanent team leaders through The Ladders job platform. The platform features over 10 million members and offers you the ability to receive resumes for your vacancy.

How to hire leaders with pre-employment tests

Now you’ve posted your job description, you will start receiving applications for the leadership position you are hiring for. You will therefore need to start evaluating your candidates.

Leadership skills testing is ideal for this for various reasons. Not only do skills tests help you reduce your time-to-hire, but leadership tests also will:

  1. Help you hire the most qualified leaders. Leadership tests will show you which candidates have the vital management skills and right aptitudes for the role – as opposed to those who can only claim they have certain skills. 

  2. Help you avoid hiring biases. Leadership tests will give you facts and results which you can use to base your hiring decisions on, instead of your personal opinion of a particular leader candidate.

  3. Help you avoid higher recruitment costs. Leadership tests will even reduce your recruitment costs. This is because your time-to-hire is reduced, which lets you make hiring decisions faster and avoid spending more on sourcing or candidate evaluation.

Top leadership and personality tests to assess leadership candidates

When it comes to testing the skills required for your leadership role, there are various leadership skills tests and leadership personality tests that help you assess your candidates.

Here are some examples of tests that will help you evaluate your leadership candidates.

1. Leadership and people management test

With a leadership skills test, you will dig deeper into your candidates’ abilities to lead and manage the individuals within a team. It will also help you understand your leader’s ability to delegate and distribute tasks.

Leadership & people management test preview question by TestGorilla

Preview question from TestGorilla’s Leadership & people management test

2. Communication skills test

Communication is crucial for your leader candidates’. Discovering how well your candidates communicate in terms of written communication and verbal communication is simple with the communication skills test. This test will even help you understand how well your candidates read non-verbal cues.

Communication test preview question by TestGorilla

Preview question of the Communication test by TestGorilla

Recommended reading: 7 communication assessment tools for hiring & why you need them

3. Business judgment skills test

The business judgment test is a leadership test that lets you find out if your candidates can create innovative strategies to enhance team and business performance. It will also help you understand your candidates’ decision-making skills as a leader.

Test for business judgment using TestGorilla’s Business judgment test. The test is designed to help you find and hire leaders and managers who can make the right trade-offs and decisions in a business context.

Business judgment test preview question by TestGorilla

Preview question of Business judgment test by TestGorilla

4. Big 5 (OCEAN) leadership personality test

Use the Big 5 (OCEAN) personality test with your leader candidates to discover whether their personality aligns with your company values. Use the results to find out more about their management style and how they are likely to lead your team members.

Big Ocean test preview question by TestGorilla

Preview question of Big Ocean test by TestGorilla

5. 16 types leadership test

The 16 personality types test is ideal for discovering more about your leader candidates’ personality type.

Use it to create your interview questions and discover more about how your candidates will support, inspire, and drive productivity in your team, and the style they will use to do so.

16 types test preview question by TestGorilla

Preview question of the 16 types test by TestGorilla

6. DISC personality leadership test

The DISC test is another personality test that will indicate your leader candidates’ management styles. It will also let you find out how they will ‘mediate’ between your team members and senior management in terms of their style and approach to mediation.

Disc test preview question by TestGorilla

Preview question of DISCT test by TestGorilla

Recommended reading: 8 benefits of using the DISC test in your hiring process

Using custom questions to evaluate your leaders with TestGorilla

You will be able to use custom questions with reliable skills tests like TestGorilla to assess your leader candidates. This is beneficial in situations where you require more information about your leader candidates – information that you haven’t acquired through the skills tests.

The custom questions you can choose from include:

  • Video responses

  • Multiple-choice

  • Essays, and

  • File uploads

So, if you wanted to find out more about how confident your leader candidates are, or more about their personality, you might select a video response custom question. This will let you receive a video submission from your candidate in response to the video custom question.

Interview questions for hiring managers and leaders

Before you invite your leadership candidate to an interview, you will need to prepare a range of interview questions to find out more about your candidates.

Here are five interview questions you might ask:

  • How would your previous team members describe your management style?

  • How would you resolve a conflict between two team members?

  • How do you communicate effectively with your team?

  • What strategies do you use to inspire your team?

  • How do you delegate tasks and projects?

1. How would your previous team members describe your management style?

Candidates who can go well beyond simply instructing team members are the ones to watch. Your leaders should inspire their team members and encourage them to achieve their goals. And candidates who have driven productivity are also well worth considering. 

2. How would you resolve a conflict between two team members?

Look out for those candidates who provide various instances of conflict resolution and how they were able to deescalate any conflicts before they impact productivity and team culture.

3. How do you communicate effectively with your team?

Communication is essential in many roles. Leaders need to be particularly clear when they communicate. Do your candidates use any collaboration tools to help them get the message across? Look for examples where explicit, clear communication helped their team achieve the task without difficulty. 

4. What strategies do you use to inspire your team?

Good leaders motivate and inspire their team members. They also understand when it’s important to handle team members who are not performing at their best. Look for examples of particular strategies and how they have driven productivity. Also, search for candidates who understand the importance of noticing where team training is required.

5. How do you delegate tasks and projects?

Efficient task delegation is critical to a leadership role. Do your leader candidates understand the importance of their team’s strengths and weaknesses? A candidate who considers these factors and plays to their team’s strengths when delegating tasks is potentially a good leader. 

Hire an inspiring leader for your organization with leadership skills tests

Hiring a leader for your organization can be a challenge, but a reliable skills testing platform that provides leadership skills tests can make this process much simpler.

Not only will you reduce your time to hire, but you’ll also even get a better understanding of how your potential leader will work with their team.

When you add to this the fact that you can significantly reduce bias and hire the best candidates for the position with a leadership skills test, it’s easy to see how skills testing platforms like TestGorilla can lighten your workload. Get started for free today and start making better hiring decisions, faster and bias-free.

If you’re interested on how you can bring out leadership potential in your employees, go to our guide on how to develop leadership skills in your workplace.


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