Hiring Leaders Watch for Five Traits

Every company wants to hire candidates who will be leaders in their field – candidates who understand the big picture while they actively pursue the details, helping take the company to new levels. Although anyone can list leadership qualities on their resume, it takes perceptive questioning and listening during the interview to prove out what the resume claims. Watch for these five traits of a true leader.


  • Know where they’re going

Ask the candidate about his/her achievements, and an explanation of how he/she accomplished them. Listen for specific answers. Does talking about his/her journey create energy – does he/she come alive?

  • Set goals.

As your candidate discusses achievements, does he/she naturally move into a discussion on future goals? Don’t just talk about goals; ask what steps will be taken to accomplish them. Do they include time for continued skill building? Do they attend seminars or take classes to further their education?

Of course, professional goals are the primary ones, but also ask about personal goals. While a true leader is focused and willing to go the distance, you don’t want someone who sacrifices everything else – including personal time, family, etc. Balance is a key issue.

  • Create action

Does his/her answers contain a lot of “I, I did, I am,” or reveal a picture of working with and giving appropriate credit to others. Listen for answers that indicate a leader who creates action – who pulls coworkers into the process and motivates a sense of team.


  • Connect with people.

Listen between the lines. Is there evidence that the candidate connects with colleagues? Does he/she come across as indifferent to others or does he/she express attitudes of empathy and understanding – a desire to be involved with coworkers, helping them to attain goals?

  • Connect with Companies

Listen for comments about past employers and companies. Does he/she express gratefulness for past opportunities and experience gained, or does he/she badmouth previous companies. A true leader can be honest about negative situations, but turn the negative into a positive learning experience, extending grace to the offending party.


  • Express themselves with clarity and confidence

Regardless of the topic and or questions, does the candidate speak with clarity and confidence? A leader needs to be able to communicate effectively with others. If he/she is able to graciously express self-confidence and motivate project confidence, it will have a ripple effect on coworkers and company culture.

  • Attentive listeners

Is the candidate listening to your questions and comments? Does he/she jump in, interrupting, or wait until you are finished? Does he/she contemplate before answering? Is there a willingness to ask for clarification? True leaders respect and desire the insight of others.


  • Eye contact and firm handshake

Integrity has nothing to hide. Capitalize on body language. Does he/she stand tall with shoulders back? Does he/she smile, and maintain eye contact when speaking or listening? Is his/her handshake firm – neither weak, indicating apathy, nor crushing, indicating dominance? Likewise, pay attention to his/her answers. Do they flow together or is there a sense of discrepancy?

  • Strong personal and professional references

Don’t just read his/her references. Call the listed parties. Talk to both professional and personal references. A true leader maintains integrity and high ethical standards in every segment of his/her life.


  • The greatest leaders were and are servant leaders.

Do your candidate’s answers reveal a desire to serve others, to teach and guide? Is he/she willing to get in the trenches? Do his/her answers and achievements indicate a respect for others professionally and personally? Beware of any hints of arrogance (which is not to be confused with confidence).

  • Community service

Is he/she involved with community outreaches? Does he/she participate in charitable or political activities? Does he/she lead in local organizations?

Vision, connection, communication, personal integrity, and service are the trademarks of a good leader. By keeping theses five traits in mind and listening for cues that reveal them, you will become adept at choosing/hiring leaders.

If you are looking for new hires in Bangor and Portland, ME, call Springborn Staffing today. We will connect you with candidates who are leaders in their field.  

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