Are you applying for a job that requires leadership skills? Making a strong first impression is important. Recruiters want to get to know you better and discuss your leadership potential. During the interview, they want to get a better understanding of how your professional experience and background fit the job you’re applying for.
The reason why employers ask leadership interview questions is that they want to evaluate your leadership experience, skills, and potential. The answers you give help them to identify whether or not you’re a competent leader. Furthermore, it allows them to figure out if you’re that person that can help to take their company to the next level.
Job interviews are always are a hurdle to take in the application process. However, for senior positions that require leadership skills, it’s even more important that you bring your A-game. You need to be able to prove that you have the experience and skills that qualify you to lead.
Interview preparation can be stressful, regardless of the phase of your career. The whole process of preparing for a job application can be time-consuming as well. However, a solid preparation can help you ace common job interview questions to make the right impression.
The interviewers want to go more in-depth on your previous leadership experience. The rationale behind this is that your previous work behavior is the best indicator to assess your future behavior. Based on how you handled situations in the past, the interviewers can determine more accurate whether or not you will be able to successfully perform the job and if you would fit the company culture.
Examples of leadership interview questions:
- Can you walk me through your resume?
- Tell me about a time you took the lead in a team project. How did you approach the project, and what was the result?
- Tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership.
- What do you consider important leadership values?
- How does your leadership experience qualify you for this job?
With the right preparation, you can use interview questions to your advantage. If you prepare answers to questions that you’re expecting, you can make a strong impression. For instance, by discussing situations in which you demonstrated successful leadership skills.
In this article, we discuss why employers want to know more about your leadership skills, how you can prepare for your interview, and common interview questions. Also, read more about frequently asked job interview questions here and check our job interview preparation checklist.
Why interviewers ask leadership interview questions
There are several reasons why interviewers want to discuss your leadership experience. Especially when you’re applying for a senior-level position. However, it’s worthy to note that interviewers may ask questions about leadership regardless of the job level. They can also ask you about leadership to gauge your leadership potential.
Employers are looking for candidates that fit the job description and ones that match the company culture. By asking you about your previous work experience and responsibilities, they try to do just that. For them, your past professional work behavior is the best way to gauge your future job performance. Interviewers want to discuss specific aspects of to uncover your leadership style. These include:
Commitment & Motivation
Finding the right job candidate for a position is hard, but finding a highly skilled and highly motivated candidate is even harder. For them, just assessing technical skills is not enough. They want to uncover your commitment, motivation, and proactiveness. And these are the exact skills that
Employees with the right commitment and motivation are more likely to develop themselves into successful leaders. They are also more likely to help others develop themselves. It’s therefore important that you demonstrate self- and team-developing skills in your answers to convince the interviewer that you’re the right person for the job.
Being able to delegate is an important skill of a good leader. You should be able to explain how you identify the strengths and weaknesses to assign duties to your team. Furthermore, your answers should explain how you make sure you achieve results, manage time, develop your team, and how you build morale.
In a work environment, delegation means transferring responsibilities for a task to a subordinate. Demonstrate that you empower and trust employees with their responsibilities while making sure that the work is done properly. The best way to do this is through example scenarios in which you successfully delegated tasks in the past to get the needed results.
Clear communication is essential for good leadership. The interviewer wants to know how you encourage your team to express concerns, share ideas, and help each other out in the right moments.
The interviewer is looking for you to demonstrate your team player skills through examples. Focus on your experience with managing teams and workloads, comfort with conflict resolution, and genuine interest to help less-experienced colleagues develop their careers.
Integrity is a fundamental value of a great leader. It’s also one of the most important values that employers seek in employees that they want to hire. Integrity can be demonstrated by having a sound moral in situations and following ethical principles. Furthermore, integrity is the basis on which colleagues build professional relationships.
The interviewer wants you to elaborate on honesty and trust. People who show integrity draw others to them. This is mainly because they are trustworthy and dependable. When integrity is brought up, give your answer more weight by providing an example scenario in which you acted with trust and truthfulness.
Why interviewers want to assess your leadership skills
As discussed above, recruiters and interviewers want to find specific elements in your behavior to decide on whether or not to hire you. There are also multiple reasons for them to do so. Below we discuss the reasons for employers to assess your leadership skills.
Avoid bad hiring decisions
The main reason why interviewers want to assess skills that are required for a job is obvious; they want to avoid making a bad hiring decision. Making the wrong decision in hiring can be very costly for employers and not only in terms of money.
It starts with the time that is spent on hiring activities. If an employer makes a bad hiring decision, the process of sourcing, interviewing, and onboarding needs to start from the beginning again.
Furthermore, in addition to losing valuable time, a company may have additional financial costs. These costs may vary depending on the position for which the person was hired. Bad hires can also lead to decreased morale, and also negatively impact team performance. This, in turn, could lead to decreased productivity and even reputational damage for a company.
Due to the reasons mentioned above, companies will do everything to source and hire the right job candidate for their positions. Job interview questions about your leadership skills are used by interviewers to uncover important information about your professional work behavior and how you fit into the company culture.
Uncovering specific details of your leadership behavior and potential
By asking you questions that require you to discuss specific work situations in which you used your leadership skills, interviewers try to uncover specific details of your work behavior. Your answers need to demonstrate your leadership skills and your ability to take responsibility.
Before your interview, the interviewer will most likely already have reviewed your resume and motivational letter. However, these documents only allow them to assess your hard skills and review your educational history.
Your soft skills, work experience, and responsibilities need to be demonstrated through your answers. During job interviews, the interviewer wants to figure out whether or not your qualifications align with the job requirements.
It’s therefore important that you demonstrate through actual work examples how you approach your work and how your skills align with the job requirements.
Assessing your future job performance
By analyzing your work behavior through the information that you give the interviewers, they try to assess your future work performance. By asking you specific behavioral leadership questions about work situations that you have been in, they can quite accurately assess your potential success in the job that you’re interviewing for.
These questions are called behavioral and competency-based interview questions. The most accurate way of determining your future work performance is by analyzing your past work behavior in situations that you will encounter on the job as well. If you have not yet experienced a specific situation that the interviewer is asking for, you need to be able to answer how you would handle a situation hypothetically.
By asking you leadership interview questions, the interviewers want to gain more insight into your future job performance. Prepare well for these questions prior to your application interview. It’s also likely that you will get other common interview questions such as those about, for instance, your strengths and weaknesses. You should be able to answer these types of interview questions to prove that you’re self-aware and fit for the job.
Behavioral and competency-based job interview questions about leadership
As discussed earlier, behavioral and competency-based interview questions are used to assess whether or not your behavior matches the behavior that is required for the job that you’re applying for. These types of questions are particularly suitable to find out how you have used your specific skills and abilities in your previous work experience.
Behavioral and competency-based interview questions require you to provide the interviewer with an answer that includes an actual situation that you experienced during work. Your interviewers are specifically interested in how you exactly approached challenges, tasks, or problems. The nature of this question requires you to provide the interviewers with, for instance, an example work situation that you have encountered in the past in which you used a specific skill that the interviewer is asking about.
Behavioral and competency-based job interview questions usually start with:
- Tell me about a time when you..
- Give me an example of..
- Describe a situation where..
- What do you do when..
- Have you ever..
Examples of these type of questions about leadership:
- Give me an example of the work experience that you gained that will help you with this job?
- Tell me about a time you demonstrated great leadership.
- When have you delegated successfully?
- Tell me about a time you coached or mentored someone to achieve success.
- Describe a time when you led by example.
Interview questions about your past work experience are almost always asked during job interviews. If you do not yet have any work experience, they can ask you hypothetical questions that require you to give answers on how you would have handled it. Hypothetical questions can be asked regardless of the position that you’re interviewing for. Examples of hypothetical questions are, ‘How would you go about delegating tasks?‘ or ‘How would you deal with people who disagree with you?’.
The best way to give your answers more weight is to provide the interviewer a situation in which you did just that what he or she is looking for. In this case, tell the interviewer how you go about, for instance, successfully leading a team and projects.
An example answer can be, for instance:
‘In my previous positions, I’ve successfully led several teams and projects that had strict deadlines. For instance, in my previous job as a marketing manager, I managed a team that worked on interdepartmental projects with different timelines.
The key to effective leadership for me is maintaining open and clear communication lines, delegating tasks, and keeping track of each project independently. By coaching and mentoring my team members, I try to help them develop themselves as professionals. This way, they can gradually take on more responsibilities, which is important when you’re working on multiple projects with different deadlines.
I prioritize my time in advance to make sure that I’m able to keep up with each project. Communication plays a major role in this. I believe in clear communication within teams, and everybody should update each other during weekly standup meetings. These meetings allow me to adjust accordingly when needed. This way, I ensure that my team stays on track.’
The example answer above is written according to a certain structure called the STAR interview technique. STAR is an acronym that stands for a situation (S), how you approach your tasks (T) in that situation, the actions (A) you take, and what results (R) you got based on your actions. In other words, the STAR interview technique is a way to structure your answers logically and concise. The STAR interview technique is discussed in more detail later on in this article.
The interview questions about leadership that you get asked are related to important skills required for the job that you’re applying for. The main reason for using behavioral interview questions is because the most accurate predictor of future performance is your past performance in similar situations.
Information that interviewers look for when discussing your leadership skills
The main goal of the interviewer when discussing your leadership skills is to gain knowledge about your leadership experience and potential. It’s, therefore, important that you are able to give strong answers in which you demonstrate your skills and experience. Always relate your answers to the job requirements – you can find these in the job description.
Thorough interview preparation will help you prepare for leadership skill interview questions. Your main goal during your interview is to demonstrate that you can take on the day-to-day responsibilities required for the job. Also, you need to show that you are self-aware and that you have the potential to grow further as a professional.
Behavioral or competency-based interview questions are perfect for uncovering your leadership skills. For instance, the interviewer can ask you to ‘describe your decision-making process.’ He or she can ask you ‘what the most difficult decision you had to make recently and how you came to that decision?’. Another follow-up question could be, ‘are you a risk taker?‘. In this case, you need to demonstrate your communication and decision-making skills by providing answers that include examples of how you handled such situations in the past.
The interviewers ask you leadership interview questions to uncover answers to the following questions:
- What are your leadership experience and growth potential?
- Do you fit in the company culture, and are you easy to get along with?
- Can you communicate efficient and effective with different types of personalities?
- Are you able to respond adequately to situations in your work?
- Can you adjust to changing work environments?
- Are you a team player, and can you mentor/coach colleagues or other teams when needed?
- Are you flexible in your approaches to situations at work?
Red flags when answering leadership interview questions
There are several warning signs that interviewers look for during a job interview. Below we discuss some of the most commonly made mistakes that are considered red flags.
Vague answers to valid questions
When discussing leadership, the interviewer will ask you direct interview questions about this topic. An example question is ‘What do you like about managing people?‘. It’s important that you provide a specific answer about what you like about it and how it relates to your career goals.
Always relate your answers directly to the question that the interviewer is asking and stay concise and to the point. Also, it’s common for interviewers to discuss what you stated in your resume or cover letter.
Therefore, if your resume says, for instance, that you have leadership experience, make sure that you can back that claim up through clear work examples in which you demonstrated the required skills successfully. If the interviewer has trouble verifying your work history or experience, this can be considered as a warning sign.
Failing to answer concise and effective
To ace a job interview, you need to respond with answers that are concise and effective. This means that when the interviewer asks you something, you provide a direct but short answer that includes only the necessary details to answer the question.
A strategy to prepare for interview questions you expect based on your research is to think of actual work experiences in which you demonstrated the required job skills.
Also, think about possible follow-up questions that you can expect. For instance, if you’re preparing for the interview question ‘Tell me about a time you managed an important project.‘ you can expect the interviewer to follow up with ‘How did you approach this situation?’ and ‘What was the result?’
Not taking responsibility
One of the most important skills for a leader is to take responsibility. Ensure, therefore, that you have examples ready of how you took responsibilities in work situations.
There’s also a chance that the interviewer asks you about any possible failures in your career. He or she knows that everybody makes mistakes and probably also faced some challenging situations during work. This question is not about the actual failure – because everybody makes mistakes.
Your answer should discuss how you approached the situation, what went wrong, and what you learned from it. If your answers do not show that you’re able to take responsibility when, for instance, a project failed, this is considered a warning sign.
Being able to reflect on situations, understanding what went wrong, and what you would have done differently in the same situation now is an important characteristic.
Self-awareness and self-reflection are important characteristics for any employee but especially for people in leadership positions. When brought up, employers look for candidates that can admit their past mistakes and explain the important lessons they learned from it. Make sure your answers demonstrate that you take responsibility for situations and describe the actions you took to fix any problems or challenges.
A negative attitude or giving answers with a negative tone of voice can impact your job chances significantly. Coming across as not genuinely interested in the position or company is an example scenario that should be avoided.
The same goes for talking in an inappropriate way about your previous employer or coworkers. Interviewers are not interested in this information because it’s not relevant and will only negatively impact your chances. Needless to say, you should avoid making a negative impression at all costs.
Frequently asked leadership experience job interview questions
Below we discuss some commonly asked job interview questions about leadership. There are several important attributes to great leadership. Think, for instance, of your passion for the job, conflict resolution skills, adaptability, negotiation skills, creative thinking skills, people management, and decision-making skills. Below we go through example questions of each attribute.
1. Leadership potential job interview questions
- Tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership.
- How would you describe your leadership style?
- What do you do when you do not have the answer to a problem?
- Tell me about a time you had to adapt to a changing work environment.
- How do you assess risks in your work?
What the interviewer is looking for when discussing leadership potential:
If you do not yet have leadership experience, but the employer wants to know if you would be suitable for a leadership role, the interviewer can try to gauge your leadership potential. Your leadership potential is assessed based on your aspirations, abilities, and engagement.
Your aspiration is the intensity of your desire for results and recognition in the workplace. Abilities are a combination of innate characteristics, such as your cognitive ability and emotional intelligence, and learned skills that are required for the day-to-day tasks. It’s important that you’re able to demonstrate that you possess certain skills and that you have the ambition to further develop them. Furthermore, show through your answers that you take the initiative and that you work solution-focused.
What to avoid when answering questions about leadership:
Avoid coming across as hesitant or unsure about yourself. Confidence is key to strong leadership. If you’re hesitant in your answers about the willingness to possibly take on leadership tasks in the future, this could hurt your chances of landing the job. Focus on providing honest answers that demonstrate your passion, skills, and growth potential. The best way to do this is by providing examples of times you did just that.
2. Leadership interview questions about your passion for the job
- Tell me about a personal experience that led to you becoming a better leader.
- Tell me about a challenging situation at work and how you solved it.
- What do you like most about managing other people/teams?
- How do you stay up to date about what’s going on with the people you’re managing?
What the interviewer is looking for in your passion for the job:
It’s true that most people can lead others, but the question is if they want to. Interviewers are looking for candidates that have the potential to lead teams to victory. These candidates are the ones that show that they’re motivated to do just that. Therefore, make sure that you demonstrate that you are genuinely passionate about management and leadership.
Your potential and passion for leadership can partly be determined by your past leadership experience but also through hypothetical questions. The goal of the interviewer is to find out whether or not you have the willingness to take control when a situation requires this.
What to avoid when discussing your passion for the job:
There are several warning signs that interviewers look for in your answers to interview questions about your passion. A warning sign is, for instance, when you can’t provide evidence of leadership behavior in the past. When you don’t have relevant work experience yet, provide the interviewer, for instance, with examples of your time as a student. As long as you provide an answer that includes a relevant example scenario of times when you took the driver’s seat within a team.
Another warning sign is badmouthing previous employers or colleagues. This information is irrelevant to the position you’re applying for. Furthermore, it’s an unprofessional, emotional response to team situations.
3. Leadership interview questions about conflict resolution
- How do you handle conflicts within your team?
- When was the last time you had a disagreement with a coworker or customer, and how did you handle the situation?
- How do you deal with conflict?
- How do you deal with differences of opinion within your team?
What the interviewer is looking for when discussing conflict resolution:
Employers look for candidates who can resolve conflicts quickly, efficient, and fairly. Therefore, make sure that you have multiple answers ready to demonstrate your conflict resolution skills. For instance, times when you solved complex or challenging situations that required peacemaking.
What to avoid when answering questions about conflict resolution:
A clear warning sign for interviewers are candidates who talk bad about previous managers or coworkers. Furthermore, candidates who do not take responsibility for their actions or show counterproductive behavior, in general, are red flags.
Make sure your answers do not indicate or reveal that you might have been the cause of a conflict you’re describing. Take responsibility for your actions and show confidence in dealing with conflicts. When discussing situations in which you failed or made a wrong decision, make sure you discuss what you learned from the situation and what you would do differently now, looking back.
4. Leadership interview questions about adaptability
- How do you adjust to changes you have no control over? (For instance, a person from your team decides to quit)
- What are the biggest challenges you face as a manager? How do you tackle these issues?
- Tell me about a time you had to complete a task you never did before. How did you approach this situation, and what was the result?
- Tell me about a time you faced an unexpected setback. What happened in that situation?
What the interviewer is looking for when discussing adaptability:
As a manager, you have to deal with different kinds of tasks, people, and situations. Great managers are able to adapt to unforeseen circumstances and challenging situations. The interviewer is interested in how you handle different situations and how you deal with setbacks. It’s important that you demonstrate that you can take on challenges and that you’re creative enough to face these challenges head-on and come up with a solution.
What to avoid when answering questions about adaptability:
Avoid answers that could indicate that you’re not (yet) willing to take on extra responsibilities. The same goes for answers that include situations in which you panicked when facing a challenge.
Also, never try to put the blame on others for a setback or badmouth coworkers and managers from previous positions. Focus on providing the interviewer an answer that he or she wants to hear. Demonstrate your suitability for the job by providing answers that include you successfully performing the required skills for the job.
5. Leadership interview questions about negotiation
- How do you persuade others to do what you want during work?
- What do you consider the most important characteristic of a good negotiator?
- What is the most complex negotiation that you have handled?
- How do you deal with people that disagree with you?
- What negotiation successes are you most proud of?
What the interviewer is looking for when discussing negotiation skills:
Strong negotiation skills are key for a good leader. On a day-to-day basis, you will have to persuade team members, clients, suppliers, or customers. Therefore, demonstrate that you can negotiate without causing conflict or upsetting others. Provide the interviewer with an answer that includes a work experience in which you successfully demonstrated negotiation skills. Show that you are able to assess your counterpart’s point of view and use that information to convince them. In other words, show that you’re able to keep everybody happy.
What to avoid when answering questions about negotiation skills:
Avoid coming off too strong in negotiation. For instance, candidates who come across as intimidating or threatening are not likely to be hired. It’s important that you show fairness, critical reasoning, empathy, and confidence. Show that you are that person that does not give in easily but that you’re also a successful negotiator. The best way to do this is by explaining actual work experiences that had a successful outcome.
6. Leadership job interview questions about creative thinking
- Give me an example of a challenging situation that you solved through creative thinking.
- As a leader, how do you come up with ideas?
- Tell me about a business problem that you had to solve in a unique or innovative way. How did you approach the situation, and what was the outcome?
- What do you do when a team member comes up to you with a unique idea?
- In what ways have you encouraged your team to be more creative and innovative?
What the interviewer is looking for when discussing creative thinking:
Changing market conditions and challenging situations at work requires creative thinking skills. Creativity can spark inspiration and innovation and is, therefore, an important leadership trait to possess. Show in your answers that you’re able to recognize good ideas and that you’re able to handle challenging situations.
The interviewer is interested in your thought process and your reasons for making certain decisions. To give your answers more weight, you can use actual work experience situations in which you demonstrated creative thinking.
What to avoid when answering questions about creative thinking:
A warning sign for interviewers is when you can’t describe any example situations in which you had to put your creativity to use. The same goes for taking credit for someone else’s ideas or rushing into new ideas without thinking about your strategy. Make sure that you come across as a person who takes calculated risks and that you can explain your creative thinking process.
7. Leadership job interview questions about people management
- How do you encourage and coach team members to develop themselves?
- How do you track the performance of your team members?
- When was the last time you had to fire someone? What happened, and how did you handle it?
What the interviewer is looking for when discussing your people management skills:
To be a great leader, you need to be able to lead. Supervising and managing others in a confident and effective way is the very definition of great leadership. The interviewer wants to hear from you how you inspire and motivate your team. The best way to do this is by providing an example situation in which you inspired and motivated your team to perform.
Make sure that you’re also prepared to discuss the difficult parts of managing people. Think, for instance, about discussing times you had to fire or discipline someone. Show confidence and ensure that you’re able to back your claims up with examples from your work experience.
What to avoid when answering questions about your people management skills:
Avoid answering questions in a way that could make you look uncertain or naïve about the decisions you made in the past. There’s a large chance that interviewers will ask you hypothetical interview questions about how you would handle certain situations. Usually, these situations are related to the job that you’re interviewing for. Show that you’re not quick to judge someone but that you don’t shy away from taking action when needed. Confidence is key when discussing people management skills.
8. Leadership job interview questions about decision-making
- Walk me through your decision-making process.
- Tell me about the most difficult decision you had to make. How did you come to that decision?
- Describe a time when you made an unpopular decision. How did you handle the feedback you got? Would you have handled the situation differently, looking back?
- Tell me about a time when you had to make an immediate decision on a critical issue.
What the interviewer is looking for when discussing decision-making skills:
Interviewers look for candidates who can explain their decision-making process. The best way to demonstrate this is through an example in which you made a rational decision that turned out successfully in that particular situation. Your answers should show that you possess the ability to make structured and well-thought decisions.
What to avoid when answering questions about decision-making skills:
Great leaders need to be prepared to take calculated risks from time to time. Therefore, make sure to demonstrate that you’re able to do so through examples. If you avoid risk at any cost or if you’re risk-averse, the interviewer might get the idea that you won’t step up to the plate when needed.
However, don’t go overboard and state that you do what you want when you want. It’s important that you show that you take responsibility and that you consider the consequences of your actions. Show that you’re commercially minded, business savvy, and level-headed in your approach to decision making.
Preparing answers to leadership job interview questions
There are a couple of basic steps that you can take to prepare for interview questions about, for instance, leadership.
Research the job and company
Every preparation starts with doing your homework en research on the job and company. This research will form your basis on preparing answers to leadership interview questions. Furthermore, it helps you identify the required competencies, skills, and abilities to successfully perform the job.
Create a list of competencies, skills, and abilities
Behavioral interview questions, such as most questions about leadership, are a great opportunity to demonstrate that your talents, competencies, and work experience match the requirements for the job.
Before you can construct answers highlighting your competencies, skills, and abilities, you need to figure out what is exactly required for the job. Based on the research you have done, you can create a list of the most important job requirements.
A lot of companies are looking for similar skills such as teamwork skills, communication, leadership (potential), conflict resolution, adaptability, creative thinking, etc. Next, rank the required skills that you have identified on importance.
Write down work experiences related to the required skills of the job you’re applying for
Based on your list of required competencies, skills, and abilities, you can start thinking about the leadership interview questions that you are most likely to get asked during your interview.
Next, you can start thinking about answers to the questions you have identified. You can give your answers more weight by using work experiences in which you successfully demonstrated the required skills and competencies in the past. Specifically, highlight your behavior in those situations. Focus on delivering a concise and to-the-point story to the interviewer.
Prepare answers to successful experiences but also be ready to discuss challenging situations
The interviewer will likely ask you about how you have successfully led teams in the past or how you finished a challenging project successfully. These are common leadership interview topics discussed during interviews for more senior positions.
Make sure you have several examples ready to convince the interviewer that you’re that right person for the job. Structure your answers in such a way that it becomes clear what you did, why you did it, and what the outcome was. The most efficient way to do this is by using the STAR interview technique.
Just like you should be able to discuss situations that you brought to a successful result, you should also prepare to answer questions about challenging situations. When discussing challenging situations, make sure you have an example ready of a time when you faced a complex problem but came out successfully. Explain what you learned from the situation and maybe even what you would have done differently, looking back now.
STAR Interview Technique to answer leadership interview questions
The STAR interview technique is the perfect way to provide the interviewer logically structured answers in the form of a ‘story.’ STAR stands for a situation (S), your task (T) in that situation, the actions (A) you took, and what results (R) you got based on your actions.
Use the STAR method to your advantage to demonstrate the skills required for the job that you’re applying for. By using the STAR method, you can efficiently and effectively match your qualifications to the job and skills, as mentioned in the job description. Below, the STAR acronym is broken down into steps with more information on what you can include.
When the interviewer asks you a behavioral question, start your answer by telling a situation relevant to the question being asked. Always use a situation that had a successful outcome. Specifically talk about the who, what, where, when, and how of the situation. This means including context around the situation or challenge that you were facing.
After describing the situation, talk about the tasks that you were responsible for. Try to be specific but keep in short and concise. It’s important that the interviewer gets a good understanding of your tasks.
After describing your task, follow-up by describing exactly what you did. Here you answer questions about how you completed the tasks you were assigned. Focus specifically on what actions you took and highlight traits and skills that the interviewer will find desirable. In this case, it’s probably leadership, but other common desirable traits are taking initiative, teamwork, dedication, adaptability, etc.
Finally, talk about the outcome of your actions. Take credit for what you did that led to those specific results. Walk the interviewer through what exactly happened based on your actions and what you achieved. Furthermore, include what you have learned from the situation. Talk about positive results and learning experiences.
Questions and answers to leadership interview questions
Below you find example questions and answers to leadership interview questions. However, remember that these are just general examples. Do your own research and structure your own answers to interview questions that you expect. Include enough detail to convince the interviewer that they should hire you!
Example 1 – Leadership interview question and answer:
‘As a leader, where do you get your motivation from?’
‘For me, there are different kinds of motivational levels. I get motivated when I’m trusted and allowed to make the decisions necessary for my team. Being valued and appreciated within the company, plus the potential to continue to grow, is really important to me.
In terms of getting motivated by my team, I get really motivated by seeing them excel in their performance, but also encourage each other and helping each other out when needed.’
Why this is a strong answer:
- The provided answer is relevant to the question and explains what motivates you.
- The answer directly answers the question of the interviewer.
- The answer shows that you have a positive attitude and possess self-awareness when it comes to what keeps you showing up at work, working hard, and supporting your team.
Example 2 – Leadership interview question and answer (STAR interview technique):
‘Tell me about a time you implemented a significant change as a leader in a previous position.’
‘Last year, the board of directors decided that it was time to implement a new customer management system. I already had positive experiences working with a certain CMS in a previous job and immediately thought I could help. I offered to pitch the CMS to the board and to do the training among team members if they agreed. The board accepted my offer, and after I pitched the CMS to them, they allowed me to start a trial period working with the new software.
The implementation went smoothly, and the team was enthusiastic about the new software as well. The old software was outdated and was not updated regularly anymore. The new CMS allowed them to work more efficiently, and eventually, the new software was implemented in other departments as well. All in all, the board of directors was happy with my ideas and how I solved this issue.’
Why this is a strong answer:
- The provided example answer directly addresses your strengths and shows that you’re proactive and that you don’t hesitate to take the required initiative.
- This answer states your experience with handling challenging projects.
Note: There is a chance that the interviewer asks you follow-up questions to go more in-depth into your answer. In case of this answer, such as stated above, you can expect follow-up questions such as how you exactly came up with your idea, how you pitched it to the board, and how you trained your team.
Example 3 – Leadership interview question and answer:
‘How do you measure the success of the members on your team?’
‘As a manager, my experience taught me that success could be measured in different ways. I believe that all team members have their strengths and weaknesses and that they should be guided to work on themselves, especially in the early stages of their careers.
The most obvious way to measure success for me is by assessing the engagement of team members in their work. A good example of this is how they approach projects, keep deadlines, and help other team members out in times of need.
Furthermore, I keep productivity reports that I compare every quarter. By doing this and discussing these results with each specific team member, I try to engage them more and help them develop themselves as well.’
Why this is a strong answer:
- This answer directly answers the question of how you measure success.
- The provided example answer describes what specific aspects of success you value as a leader.
- The answer shows that you are considerate with your team members and that you work on keeping them engaged but also help them develop themselves as professionals.
Example 4 – Leadership interview question and answer (STAR interview technique):
‘Tell me about a time you managed an important project with your team. How did you handle it?’
‘As a sales manager, I have worked on several important projects in the past. A specific example is when I was asked to set up a project team to work on a sales pitch to convince a new client to use our services. From the beginning, the pressure was on since it was about closing a multi-million dollar deal.
For the company as well as for me personally, this was one of the largest deals to date. As this deal would mean a lot for the company in terms of turnover increase, I understood that failure was not an option – it was a unique opportunity.
I assembled a team of the most experienced employees and selected them based on their qualities and strengths to make sure to balance the team out. Together with the team, a planning document was created, and goals and milestones were determined. After that, I delegated tasks based on the knowledge and experience levels of each member on the team. Also, I assigned a project manager to monitor the progress daily and report to me.
Because I distributed the responsibilities according to experience and knowledge levels, everyone on the team was aware of their responsibilities and the importance of the project. The team delivered everything on time without requiring intense oversight.
We finished our sales pitch ahead of the deadline and were able to provide the client with everything they asked for. The client told us that he was impressed by our efforts, and we landed the contract. This was a great achievement for the team as it was an effort that could not have been made without the people on it.’
Why this is a strong answer:
- The answer is written according to the STAR method. It’s a concise and to-the-point answer that directly answers the question of how you approach projects with a team.
- It’s a genuine answer that shows that you are proactive and that you possess the required problem-solving skills, adaptability, teamwork skills, and creativity.
- The result of your actions was positive, which gives more weight to your answer in general.