How to Answer: How do you delegate tasks to employees?

During job interviews for management positions, you will get asked how you delegate tasks to employees. Therefore, make sure to prepare well enough to be able to provide solid answers to these questions. Questions that require you to provide concrete examples about your past work experiences are called behavioral job interview questions. The interviewer uses this type of question to assess whether or not you possess the needed skills for the job you’re applying for.

Behavioral job interview questions usually start with:

  1. Tell me about a time when
  2. Describe a situation where
  3. Give me an example of a time when
  4. What do you do when
  5. Have you ever

The best way to answer behavioral job interview questions is by using the STAR-method to structure your answers. How to do this is discussed later on in this blog.

Other ways the interviewer could ask you similar questions about delegating tasks to employees:

  • Give me an example of a project where you successfully delegated tasks to your team?
  • Tell me about a time you delegated tasks that were not successful?
  • What are the steps you take when delegating tasks to employees?
  • Based on what do you decide to delegate tasks to specific employees?
  • How do you assess the results of the tasks that you have delegated?
  • How do you make sure that the tasks that you have delegated are completed correctly and within deadlines?

Why the interviewer is asking about how you delegate tasks to employees

Job interviews, in general, can be tricky. However, if you’re applying for a management level position, there is even more expected of you. It’s, therefore, important that you prepare thoroughly and avoid the most commonly made job interview mistakes.

As a manager, it’s expected of you that you can delegate responsibility as effective and efficient as possible. That’s also the reason why the interviewer wants to know how you make sure to do this, and how you did this in the past. A good manager understands how to accomplish tasks that need to be done by their team. This means that they should be able to delegate tasks in an efficient way across their team. Also, this means that they understand that they should not fill their own schedule by being a micromanager. You need to demonstrate that you can keep the focus on the bigger picture.

The interviewer wants to know if you can empower your team to accomplish the tasks at hand. Also, they want to know if you know how to properly prepare and instruct your team. This does not mean that you should give an example where you transferred the complete responsibility. For example, you can include an example where you hire a team manager or project manager, but as a ‘general’ manager, you’re still responsible for reviewing the actions taken by them. You should demonstrate that you can take the final responsibility for the total success of the project.

Points to focus on when answering job interview questions about how you delegate tasks to employees

There are a couple of things you can include in your answer that will help accentuate your delegating skills. However, I always remain honest about your experience and leadership abilities. It’s very common that the interviewer will ask you follow-up questions based on the information you provide in your answer.

  1. Make sure that you are able to convey to the interviewer why you think that delegating tasks is important in order to be a successful manager.
  2. When providing an example, situations always stay positive and professional. This goes for any example situation you choose to use.
  3. Focus on highlighting your skills in recognizing the work that needs to be delegated and why/how you decide to allocate them to the right people on your team.

When you’re providing an answer to an interviewer is always a good idea to relate a situation to the job requirements of the job that you’re applying for. The best way to find out the requirements is by analyzing the job description. When you’re preparing your answers to common job interview questions, you can include certain aspects that are required for the job. This way can impress the interviewer and concretely show your experience with aspects that are required to be successful in that particular position.

Mistakes to avoid when answering job interview questions about delegating tasks to employees

As with any job interview question, there are always answers and mistakes to avoid.

  1. Never answer a behavioral job interview question with just a yes or a no. Always provide a scenario or example situation to go with it. A thought-out example will substantiate your answer and give the interviewer the information that he or she is looking for.
  2. Focus on providing an answer that shows that you are able to delegate. Avoid giving too much attention to non-essential issues that might distract the attention of your delegation skills.
  3. Avoid giving an answer where you come across as too trusting in such a way that you would allocate a task to a team member without carefully giving it a thought. It’s important to demonstrate leadership skills that include careful planning and thought-out processes.
  4. It’s easy to forget to highlight your ability to recognize the potential of your team members and employees. However, this is a very important leadership skill. Don’t forget to mention this and include this in your answer. Job interview questions about your ability to delegate tasks to employees are a great opportunity to bring this up.

STAR Technique to answer job interview questions

When structuring your answers about how you delegate tasks to employees, always use the STAR-interview technique. STAR is an acronym for situation, task, action, and result. Below you find a breakdown of how you can use these to concretely and concisely structure your answer.

Situation

Start your answer off by providing the interviewer a situation. This means that you give the interviewer background information and context of the example situation that you’re going to use.

Task

Then, tell the interviewer what needed to be done or what goals needed to be achieved in that particular situation. Don’t forget to include the necessary details and what the expectations were. However, try to be as concise and concrete as possible.

Action

Next, tell what actions you took. It’s important that you focus on your efforts in this situation. What did you do? Why did you do it, and how did you do it? Also, if possible, include the skills you used.

Result

Conclude your answer with the result of your actions. How did it end, and what did you accomplish? Did you learn anything specific? If so, mention this.

Sample answers about your approach to delegating work to employees

Below you will find some sample answers that you can use to structure your own answers in preparation for your job interview and questions on how you delegate tasks to employees.

Sample answer 1 on how you delegate tasks to employees (general):

‘My previous management experience taught me to consider the strengths of each team member and their responsibilities before delegating tasks. I’m involved in multiple projects as a manager, and whenever I’m involved in a new project, I talk to each team member individually but also to the team as a unit. I discuss what I think they can take on as a team and individually and ask them how I can support them in achieving the goals that we set. As soon as I feel that they’re comfortable with the tasks at hand and they let me know that they understand what’s required, I select a project manager and delegate the day-to-day tasks to him. That person is then responsible for the coordination of daily tasks while I do regular check-ins and support the team when and where necessary to make sure we reach our targets.’

Sample answer 2 on how you delegate tasks to employees (general):

‘My management experience brought me to the conclusion that no matter how small or big a team or group might be, it’s necessary to delegate tasks in order to achieve success. I’ve done many successful projects with different teams, and the only reason for these successes was through careful planning, organizing, and team structuring. My strength lies in recognizing the potential and abilities of each team member and delegating tasks to reach the greatest team performance. There are basically two reasons for this conclusion. The first one is that delegating tasks helps me to get all the tasks at hand done and finalized within the set deadlines. The second reason is that delegating tasks allows your team members to work up to their full potential. This way, employees are able to develop themselves as professionals and climb up the company ladder.’ 

Sample answer 3 on how you delegate tasks to employees (specific):

‘In my previous job, I was in charge of the sales department and was responsible for several smaller teams. At a certain time, we were invited to pitch to a new client for a long-term contract. Needless to say, this was a big deal for the company and meant several years of additional turnover. As I was responsible for the success of this pitch, I understood that there was no room for error.

I composed a team of the most experienced employees and selected them based on their individual qualities and strengths to make sure to balance the team out. Together with the team, we made a planning and set goals and milestones to work on the pitch. After that, I delegated tasks based on the knowledge and experience levels of each team member. Also, I hired a project manager to carefully monitor the progress on a day to day basis and report to me on the milestone progress.

Because I distributed the responsibilities according to experience and knowledge levels, everyone on the team thoroughly understood their responsibilities and the importance of the project. The team delivered everything on time without requiring intense oversight on an ongoing basis. We finished our pitch ahead of schedule and were able to provide the client with everything he 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.’ 

Job Interview Topics – Common Job Interview Questions & Answers

Below you can find a list of common job interview topics. Each link will direct you to an article regarding the specific topics that discuss commonly asked interview questions. Furthermore, each article discusses why the interviewer asks these questions and how you answer them!

  1. Accomplishments
  2. Adaptability
  3. Admission
  4. Behavioral
  5. Career Change
  6. Career Goals
  7. Communication
  8. Competency
  9. Conflict Resolution
  10. Creative Thinking
  11. Cultural Fit
  12. Customer Service
  13. Direct
  14. Experience
  15. Government
  16. Graduate
  17. Growth Potential
  18. Honesty & Integrity
  19. Illegal
  20. Inappropriate
  21. Job Satisfaction
  22. Leadership
  23. Management
  24. Entry-Level & No experience
  25. Performance-Based
  26. Personal
  27. Prioritization & Time Management
  28. Problem-solving
  29. Salary
  30. Situational & Scenario-based
  31. Stress Management
  32. Teamwork
  33. Telephone Interview
  34. Tough
  35. Uncomfortable
  36. Work Ethic