Interviewing takes practice, and it is a learned skill. A great interviewer will be able to extract the details and truth in a candidate's work history and experience while, in tandem, assess leadership traits, temperament, biases, and personality.
Executive leaders who come into the workplace with a big ego can be detrimental to both the business and the person's career. Although, at first, they may come off as a dynamic and confident executive, typically, an ego-driven leader will be a bad hire as they will inevitably make poor decisions that benefit themselves, versus thinking broadly about corporate impact and collaboratively working with and considering their peers and the teams around them.
When interviewing, be wary of ego-driven executives and watch for these signals in action:
Ego in Action
- Self-Centered Boasts: The candidate tends to steer conversations toward their own achievements, making statements such as "I built this" or "I grew margin by." Nobody ever did it alone and understanding the full team impact, and the exact role your executive played, is critical when interviewing.
- Shifting Blame: A big yellow flag for us at Shine Talent is when a candidate speaks negatively about a prior boss or blames others in the organization for a company setback. This sometimes shows up with language around not trusting others or how much they had to take on themselves. When hiring for executive leadership, you want to hire an influential leader who knows how to navigate tough bosses and adverse situations.
- Taking Over the Conversation: Be wary of the candidate that dominates the conversation and spends the bulk of the time talking about themselves versus asking questions about the company and crafting a give-and-take dialogue. Shine Talent seeks candidates who are curious about the company, not just those who are working to get the job.
Confidence in Action:
- Team-Centric Approach: Confident candidates are always talking about their team and always giving credit to those around them. They naturally discuss the collective achievement while elegantly highlighting where they contributed and personally made an impact.
- Acceptance of Mistakes: We like to hear about candidate mistakes, how quickly they course-corrected, and what they learned. A confident executive leader will own up to where they made an error and openly talk about key learnings along the way.
- Always Curious: When taking a new job, 75% should be what you know, and 25% should be new. Strong executive leaders are clear about what will be new to them and will dive into how they will learn and what resources are needed to ensure success.
- Values Feedback: When asked, a confident candidate will talk about the feedback they have received over the years and discuss prior mentors and leaders who have helped shape who they are and have contributed to their success. Confident executive leaders value feedback and know how to apply it.
In today's world, we hear a ton about confident leadership, but there is a fine line between ego and confidence, and both candidates and hiring leaders need to know how to assess and understand the difference. An ego-driven executive leader can be detrimental to bring into a company and can wreak havoc on how the executive team functions. Listen well when interviewing candidates and don't ignore the yellow flags that can result in a bad hire.