As leading headhunters in Northern California, Pacific ExecSearch knows that hiring the right leaders for your company can certainly be a challenge in today’s business climate. Not only is competition fierce for top executives, but there’s a lot at stake when you’re bringing a new leader into your business.

Whether you’re hiring a department manager, or a CFO, you need to ensure that individual has the right blend of technical and management skills, along with a clear vision and the ability to motivate a team to succeed and deliver consistent results. It’s certainly a tall order.

However, with the right interview questions, you can find just the right candidate. To help you get started, here are 6 interview questions to ask when  interviewing candidates for a leadership position:

#1: In your last position, what were your top two to three priorities and how did you handle them?

While answers will vary from candidates, there should be one common element among them: top performers set goals and then create plans for accomplishing them. They understand that success doesn’t just happen overnight. They must develop and implement a series of a systematic and methodical plans in order to deliver results and achieve success.

#2: When you’re hiring, what qualities do you look for?

For any leader, part of their job is building a great team with the right mix of talent. You need to ensure the next executive you hire has that ability. Top performers know that skills alone won’t produce great results. They need people with the right blend of interpersonal and technical skills to get the job done.

#3: Tell me about the last time you encountered a major issue in your department. How did you handle it?

This is a fundamental behavioral question to ask that helps you dig deep into the candidate’s problem solving skills. Every leader should have sharply honed problem solving abilities and be able to logically think their way through issues, come up with creative solutions, and swiftly implement them.

#4: How do you evaluate the financial state of your department?

Every strong leader needs to be well versed in the basics of business finance. They need to be able to quickly review the financials and glean information so they can take appropriate action going forward.

#5: Have you ever had to fire a difficult employee, or handle a hard-to-please client? How did you deal with these types of situations.

Being in a leadership role means you need to know how to handle people – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Asking candidates about how they overcame challenging situations such as these will give you a sense of whether they have the ability to make tough choices and foster good relationships.

#6: What do you think are the biggest trends impacting our industry today?

Any smart leader will be well versed in changes going on within the industry and how to take advantage of them to boost the bottom line. They should also be well aware of upcoming legislation, new technologies, and other issues that could have a significant impact on the company and the industry as a whole. This level of knowledge not only demonstrates a passion for their work, but also a commitment to staying one step ahead.

Looking for your company’s next top executive? One of the best ways to find them is by working with a team of experienced recruiters. As leading headhunters in Northern California, Pacific ExecSearch’s team of recruiters has extensive experience in sourcing, evaluating and helping companies hire and retain mission critical professionals for top positions. To learn more about how we can help your organization, please contact us today.