How to Answer: How Do You Delegate Tasks To Employees?

During job interviews for management positions, it’s certain that you will get asked how you delegate tasks to employees. This is because delegating tasks to members of your team is an essential part of effective management and leadership.

To answer questions about delegating tasks effectively, it’s important that you are 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 it’s essential that you 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:

  1. Tell me about a time when..
  2. Describe a situation where..
  3. Give me an example of a time when..

Examples of behavioral questions about delegating tasks to employees:

  1. Tell me about a time when you effectively delegated tasks to accomplish a goal.
  2. Describe a time when you trusted a team member with an activity that he or she did not complete.
  3. 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 assists and supports the professional development of team members.

Therefore, besides that, delegating tasks can lighten your workload; it’s much more than just that. The members on 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 to their skills and abilities. Companies with employees who feel that they are trusted by their superiors tend to have a higher level of commitment to the organization, their work, 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:

  1. Communication

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 making 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.

Learn more about communication interview questions and how to answer them.

  1. 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 choose 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.

For example, discuss how you evaluate performance, how you mentor, coach, and manage employees, and how you demonstrate leadership when needed.

  1. 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 on your team, how you make promotion decisions, how you manage talent, and how you create incentives.

  1. Time management & prioritization

Even though you delegate a specific task, you still need to effectively manage time by setting clear deadlines and milestones and hold the employee accountable for them.

Effective time management also requires that you align and plan deadlines well in advance with the employee that you’re delegating the task to. Ensure that you are able to discuss how you usually do this.

When discussing how you delegate task, 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.

Learn more about time management & prioritization interview questions and how to answer them.

  1. Creative thinking

Delegation promotes teamwork among team members. Furthermore, it brings different points of view on how to approach and to solve problems. This, in turn, leads to increased productivity and efficiency in a team.

Learn more about creative thinking interview questions and how to answer them.

  1. Motivation

Delegating the right tasks to employees an 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.

Learn more about motivation interview questions and how to answer them.

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.

  1. 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.

  1. Big ego

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.

  1. 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.

  1. Time issues

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.

  1. Accountability

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, and giving feedback, monitoring, but 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 the 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 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 situation, 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, 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 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 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 giving it a thought. 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.

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 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.

Action

Next, tell what actions you took. It’s important that you focus on your efforts in this situation and how you made a decision 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.

Result

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.

  1. Give me an example of a project where you successfully delegated tasks to your team?
  2. Tell me about a time you delegated tasks that were not successful?
  3. What are the steps you take when delegating tasks to employees?
  4. Based on what do you decide to delegate tasks to specific employees?
  5. How do you make sure that all tasks you delegate are successfully completed?
  6. What method do you employ for delegating tasks to your team members?
  7. How do you assess the results of the tasks that you have delegated?
  8. Are there times when you shouldn’t delegate?
  9. What types of tasks do you delegate? And what types of tasks don’t you delegate?
  10. How do you make sure that the tasks that you have delegated are completed correctly and within deadlines?

Learn more about management interview questions and how to answer them.

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):

‘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):

‘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):

‘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