Questions about delegating tasks are commonly asked during job interviews for supervisors or managers. Therefore, it’s almost certain that you will get asked how you delegate tasks to employees. This is because delegating tasks to team members is an essential part of effective management and leadership.
To answer questions about delegating tasks effectively, you must be able to explain how you make decisions on assigning tasks to the right people. For example, the interviewer is interested in what you consider, such as time constraints, level of ability of team members, development needs, etc. This is also the reason why you must prepare well enough to be able to provide strong answers to these questions.
Interview questions that require you to provide concrete examples about your past work experiences are called behavioral job interview questions. Interviewers use 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:
- Tell me about a time when..
- Describe a situation where..
- Give me an example of a time when..
Examples of behavioral questions about delegating tasks to employees:
- Tell me about a time when you effectively delegated tasks to accomplish a goal.
- Describe a time when you trusted a team member with an activity that he or she did not complete.
- Give me an example of a time when you effectively delegated tasks.
The most effective way to answer these behavioral interview questions is by using the STAR interview technique. STAR is an acronym that stands for (S) situation, (T) task, (A) action, and (R) result. How to use this technique to your advantage is discussed later on in this article.
In this blog, we discuss why the interviewer is asking questions about how you delegate tasks to employees. Also, we tell you what you should focus on when answering this question. Furthermore, read more about frequently asked job interview questions here and check our job interview preparation checklist.
What Is Delegation In Management?
From the perspective of management, the definition of delegation is when a manager, supervisor, or team leader gives another staff member the authority and responsibility to complete an assigned task.
Importance of delegating tasks
Delegating tasks effectively might sound easy, but in truth, in many cases, it can be very difficult. As a manager, delegating tasks is important because you cannot and should not do everything yourself. Efficient and effective delegation leads to empowering your team, building trust, and assisting and supporting the professional development of team members.
Therefore, besides that, delegating tasks can lighten your workload; it’s much more than just that. The members of your team are able to develop new skills and gain more knowledge by taking on new responsibilities. This, in turn, helps them grow as professionals and prepares them for advancements in their careers.
Subordinates who are gradually assigned more tasks and responsibilities will also see this as a sign of respect for their skills and abilities. Companies with employees who feel that their superiors trust them tend to have a higher level of commitment to the organization, their work, and their managers and also tend to perform better.
As you can imagine, all the aspects mentioned above are very important for employers when hiring new manager-level positions. Your answers to their questions should indicate that you can delegate effectively and that your management style fits into the company culture.
Examples of delegation skills
Strong managers have a thorough understanding of their team’s skills and abilities, and they know how to instruct them in a way that makes them feel empowered to achieve the tasks required of them. They possess important delegation skills, such as:
Managers need to communicate clearly when delegating tasks. It’s important that you demonstrate to the interviewer that you are able to explain how you approach and assign team members with specific tasks, what the task is, and what the deadline and expectations are. Doing this requires strong and effective written and verbal communication.
Communication is a two-way street, which means you also need the right listening skills when delegating tasks. For example, if a team member has any concerns or questions and makes sure he or she understands what’s expected of them.
Demonstrating strong communication skills to interviewers can include how you explain tasks and guidelines, how you define and manage expectations, and how you actively listen and communicate with team members.
Feedback & coaching
Assigning tasks to subordinates does not mean that you are not ultimately responsible. When asking how you delegate tasks, the interviewer is interested in how you provide feedback and coach the specific employee throughout the project to make sure set goals are met.
It’s important that you can explain how and when you provide feedback on what went well, what they struggled with, and why you chose to do so. Your main goal here should be to convey the message that you help and coach employees to perform the tasks even better next time.
Training & development
Before you can delegate, it’s important that the employee has the skills required to successfully perform the task. This might require training before you can delegate the specific task. A great manager knows how to effectively train and develop his or her team members in a new skill or task.
You should demonstrate to the interviewer that you possess the right insight and expertise to estimate what kind of training and development is required. Furthermore, a good manager can identify if any outside resources can help their team members with their daily tasks.
For example, you can explain to the interviewer how you assess the strengths and weaknesses of members of your team, how you make promotion decisions, how you manage talent, and how you create incentives.
Time management & prioritization
Even though you delegate a specific task, you still need to effectively manage time by setting clear deadlines and milestones and holding the employee accountable for them.
Effective time management also requires that you align and plan deadlines well in advance with the employee you’re delegating the task to. Ensure that you are able to discuss how you usually do this.
When discussing how you delegate tasks, the interviewer might ask how you make time management decisions, how you schedule and set deadlines and milestones, plus how you deal with accountability and quality assurance.
Delegation promotes teamwork among team members. Furthermore, it brings different points of view on how to approach and solve problems. This, in turn, leads to increased productivity and efficiency in a team.
Delegating the right tasks to employees and challenging them to acquire new skills and new achievements is a great motivator for employees. During the interview, make sure that you’re ready to discuss how you motivate your team and get them ready for new tasks and challenges.
Reasons why managers fail to delegate
When used right, delegation can be used as a powerful tool within a company and team. However, it’s also common for managers to fail to try to delegate tasks. Below we discuss the most common mistakes. Ensure that you avoid these mistakes in your answers.
Not understanding the importance
Delegating is not just passing off work to a subordinate. This mistake is often made, and managers decide not to delegate tasks. This could lead to wasting their time as well as the company’s time and resources.
Delegation is a great tool to make workloads more manageable, and as discussed earlier, it can lead to valuable teaching opportunities for team members.
Another common mistake made by managers is not delegating tasks because they think that they can do it better themselves. For employers, this is a red flag because it could be a sign that you need to focus on building more trust within your team.
Being overly protective
Letting go can be a challenge, but a good manager knows when to accept that you cannot do everything yourself. This is very important when discussing your delegation skills. It’s important to realize that your team wants to do good work and be successful as much as you do.
A good manager knows that if his employees succeed, they will succeed.
Some managers won’t delegate tasks because they think this will take longer than just doing the work. In other words, they assume that it takes longer to teach someone else how to do it than do it themselves. You must not fall for this trap when you’re discussing your delegation skills with an interviewer.
While it might be true that the first time teaching someone could cost you time, the amount of time that you will have to dedicate to that specific task will decrease over time because you won’t have to be involved with it at all. Make sure you are able to explain this to interviewers asking specific questions about this.
Another reason why managers fail to delegate effectively is by being afraid of accountability. In other words, they are afraid because they’re accountable if anything goes wrong. Of course, as a manager, you’re ultimately responsible for the work delivered by your team.
However, by communicating clearly, coaching, giving feedback, monitoring, and also through time management, you can avoid this. Make sure that you can explain to the interviewer how you ensure your team stays on track and deliver the quality expected on time.
Why Interviewers Ask 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 effectively and efficiently 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. Furthermore, as discussed earlier, there are plenty of examples of reasons why managers fail to delegate, in general. The interviewer wants to know if you are able to delegate effectively and efficiently.
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 complete responsibility.
For example, you can include an example where you hire a team manager or project manager. However, 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 Questions About Delegating 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.
- Make sure that you are able to convey to the interviewer why you think delegating tasks is important in order to be a successful manager.
- When providing an example situation, always stay positive and professional. This goes for any example situation you choose to use.
- 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, it’s always a good idea to relate a situation to the job requirements of the job that you’re applying for. The best way to determine the requirements is by analyzing the job description.
When preparing your answers to common job interview questions, you can include certain aspects 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 Questions About Delegating Tasks To Employees
As with any job interview question, there are always answers and mistakes to avoid. Below we discuss the most commonly made mistakes when discussing delegation interview questions.
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.
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.
Also, 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 considering it. It’s important to demonstrate leadership skills that include careful planning and thought-out processes.
Furthermore, 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.
How to Demonstrate Your Delegation Skills in a Job Interview
Demonstrating your delegation skills in a job interview is an important part of showcasing your capabilities as a manager. Delegation is a crucial aspect of effective leadership, and being able to effectively delegate tasks and responsibilities to your team is a valuable skill for any manager to possess.
To demonstrate your delegation skills in a job interview, it’s important to come prepared with specific examples and anecdotes that illustrate your ability to delegate effectively. You can start by discussing your approach to delegating work, including how you prioritize tasks and determine which responsibilities to assign to different team members.
You should also be able to talk about the benefits of delegation, such as increased efficiency and the opportunity for team members to develop new skills and take on more responsibility. It’s also helpful to discuss any challenges you’ve faced in the past regarding delegating tasks and how you’ve overcome them.
Another important aspect of demonstrating your delegation skills in a job interview is your ability to communicate effectively with your team. This includes setting clear expectations, providing support and resources to help team members succeed, and regularly checking in on their progress.
Overall, being able to effectively delegate tasks and responsibilities is a key component of successful management. By coming prepared with specific examples and a clear understanding of the importance of delegation, you can demonstrate your skills and set yourself apart as a top candidate for the job.
STAR Technique To Answer Questions About Delegating Tasks
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 will find a breakdown of how you can use these to concretely and concisely structure your answer.
Start your answer off by providing the interviewer with a situation. This means that you give the interviewer background information and the context of the example situation you will use.
Then, tell the interviewer what needed to be done or what goals you and your team needed to achieve 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.
Next, tell what actions you took. It’s important that you focus on your efforts in this situation, how you decided to delegate tasks, and what tasks you delegated. Answer questions such as: What did you do? Why did you do it, and how did you do it? Also, if possible, include the skills you used.
Conclude your answer with the result of your delegation actions. How did it end, and what did you accomplish? Did you learn anything specific? If so, mention this.
Common Interview Questions About Delegating Tasks To Employees
Below we discuss a couple of commonly asked interview questions about how you delegate 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 make sure that all tasks you delegate are successfully completed?
- What method do you employ for delegating tasks to your team members?
- How do you assess the results of the tasks that you have delegated?
- Are there times when you shouldn’t delegate?
- What types of tasks do you delegate? And what types of tasks don’t you delegate?
- How do you make sure that the tasks that you have delegated are completed correctly and within deadlines?
Sample Answers About Your Approach To Delegating Tasks 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: ‘How Do You Delegate Tasks To Employees?’ (General Answer):
Example: ‘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: ‘How Do You Delegate Tasks To Employees?’ (General Answer):
Example:‘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: ‘How Do You Delegate Tasks To Employees?’ (Specific Answer):
Example: ‘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 plan 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.’
Sample Answer 4: Can you provide an example of a time when you effectively delegated tasks to your team?
Example: ‘Sure! During a time when I was managing a project for a client, I needed to delegate tasks to my team in order to meet our deadline. I sat down with each team member and discussed their strengths and capabilities, and then I carefully assigned tasks based on their skills and expertise. I also made sure to clearly communicate the expectations and deadlines for each task, and provided any necessary resources and support to ensure that they were able to complete their work effectively.
As a result of my delegation efforts, we were able to complete the project on time and to the client’s satisfaction. My team members also gained valuable experience and developed new skills in the process, which greatly benefited everyone involved. Overall, I believe that effective delegation is key to maximizing efficiency and getting the best results from your team. I’m always looking for opportunities to delegate tasks in a way that benefits everyone.’
Sample Answer 5: How do you determine which tasks to delegate to your team and which to handle yourself?
Example: ‘When it comes to determining which tasks to delegate to my team and which to handle myself, I consider a few key factors. First, I think about the skills and expertise of my team members. If someone on my team has a particular strength or experience that makes them well-suited to handle a task, I’ll often delegate it to them. This not only allows me to utilize their skills effectively, but it also gives them the opportunity to take on more responsibility and grow in their role.
I also consider the workload and capacity of my team. If my team is already stretched thin, I may choose to handle certain tasks myself in order to lighten their load. On the other hand, if my team has the capacity and I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’ll be more likely to delegate tasks to them in order to manage my own workload more effectively.
Finally, I consider the importance and complexity of the task. For tasks that are critical to the success of the project or require a high level of expertise, I’ll often handle them myself or delegate them to someone with the necessary skills and experience. For tasks that are less complex or important, I’m more likely to delegate them to other team members.
Overall, my approach to delegation is driven by a combination of my team’s skills and expertise, workload and capacity, and the importance and complexity of the task at hand.’
Sample Answer 6: What challenges have you faced when it comes to delegation, and how have you overcome them?
Example: ‘A challenge I faced in my most recent position was finding the right balance between providing enough guidance and support to my team while still giving them the autonomy and independence to complete tasks independently. In the past, I’ve found that if I’m too hands-off, team members may feel unsure of what’s expected of them or may struggle to complete tasks effectively. On the other hand, if I’m too involved, I may end up micromanaging or not allowing team members to take on more responsibility and grow in their roles.
To overcome this challenge, I’ve learned to be more intentional about setting clear expectations and providing the necessary resources and support to help team members succeed. This includes having regular check-ins to ensure that everyone is on track, offering guidance and feedback as needed, and being available to answer questions and provide support.
Overall, In my opinion, effective delegation requires a balance of trust, clear communication, and providing the necessary resources and support to help team members succeed. By being mindful of these factors and being willing to adapt my approach as needed, I’ve been able to overcome the challenges I’ve faced in the past when it comes to delegation.’
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!
- Career Change
- Career Goals
- Conflict Resolution
- Creative Thinking
- Cultural Fit
- Customer Service
- Growth Potential
- Honesty & Integrity
- Job Satisfaction
- Entry-Level & No experience
- Prioritization & Time Management
- Situational & Scenario-based
- Stress Management
- Telephone Interview
- Work Ethic