As with all interviews, and particularly interviews of this type, the key is to get to know the candidate. Therefore, as the interviewer, you must be engaging and energetic. Yet, you must also be a good listener.
Always take notes during the interview. It will allow you to “mentally record” the candidate’s responses and then review the comments as a collective conversation to give you a broader perspective of the candidate’s philosophies. Look for consistencies as much as you look for inconsistencies. At this level of experience, past performance is truly indicative of future performance.
Taking notes also help to prevent blurring the candidates. Often, candidates share similar philosophies in certain areas. Remember, though, that it is the total package that you are engaging, so the intersection and amalgam of a candidate’s management philosophies are critical to your assessment.
So in the end, what was the value of the leadership profile assessment? After all I was not familiar with the company and its needs other than a cursory understanding.
There were several values.
Because, I was not attached to the outcome of the interviews and would not have to contemplate working with the winning candidate on a daily basis, I was able to retain objectivity more easily. I found this liberating as it allowed me to assess leadership styles more openly.
Second, the context of my assessment could be a little less traditional. I was able to identify the various leadership styles and my presentation to my client could be couched in a more meaningful and, I believe, more elegant way.
That is, I was able to answer a couple of core questions.
- Does the candidate understand the leadership role?
- Does the candidate understand strategy, tactical planning and what is necessary to run an organization?
- What is the candidate’s leadership style? (My client could then decide if it fit the “heart of the assignment.”)
Somewhat surprisingly – at least to me, the five candidates represented five different management styles. And each of these styles would be appropriate in a particular situation.
This reaffirmed to me the very first lesson of interviewing – you must understand the heart of the assignment before beginning this process.