A leadership interview can be quite a tough one especially when one is not fully prepared. This is because leaders are an essential branch that holds the company tree together and should be vetted thoroughly before they are hired.
It is quite important to know and be ready for all kinds of questions about leadership. This will help you not to panic, boost self-confidence and yield you a high score. Remember you are interviewing for a top management role, so you must be ready. A leader is a manager of managers and not just any other ordinary team member.
Do you have an upcoming interview for a leadership position and do not know what to expect and how to tackle the common interview questions? Worry not, because we have prepared 55 common leadership interview questions plus sample answers.
Do I Need to Memorize All the Questions?
Not all. The purpose of these common leadership interview questions is to help you get a comprehensive idea as you prepare for your interview. You can’t possibly remember each question and how to respond on the day of the interview. But taking your time to go through all the questions will offer you the valuable mental preparation that you need to score highly in the interview.
Here are the questions, please take your time to ensure you understand each question so that your mind can retain the overall picture and intention of the question.
1. As a leader, which leadership skills do you have?
Use this question to showcase relevant skills that the employer wants to hear such as being a keen listener, empathy, positivity, great team builder, being reliable, ability to observe deadlines, and such.
This question gives the interviewer a chance to check if you have all the traits they are looking for as per the job description.
2. How best can you describe your leadership style and approach to leadership?
There are several leadership styles that an interviewer may be looking for. Be sure to mention being a transformational leader and other unique styles that you might possess. Give examples of previous leadership styles that you have enacted before and how you did it.
3. How do you ensure that you become a better leader?
Mention that you are able to achieve this by setting smart goals and striving to achieve them. You can give a small discussion on the goal setting strategies that you’ve used while leading your team. One of them being the SMART method.
4. How do you apply your conflict management skills?
Your answer should depict clearly your ability to solve problems when they arise at your workplace. Demonstrate your problem-solving skills by explaining with an example how you would go about it without being biased or leaning on either side.
Equally important to demonstrate are your interpersonal skills and ability to utilize personal connections.
5. Give an example of a leadership challenge you faced and what you did to overcome it.
This should come as a chance for the interviewee to showcase different abilities to tackle day-to-day challenges that arise at the workplace.
Give examples from your previous position or based on your personal experience. Your previous role will play a huge role here.
6. Which difficult decision did you have to make as a leader?
This is a question to test your leadership capabilities and or strong leadership potential. Give an example of a decision that you made that had a great impact on the other team members as well as on the organization.
7. How do you gain commitment from a team that you are leading?
This is one of the most common leadership questions that seek to test personal leadership style in team settings. The interviewer is looking for qualities that demonstrate a transformational leadership style.
State that you do this by pushing team members to set realistic goals and objectives while encouraging cooperation and cohesion. Mention that you will use constant team meetings and team building events that focus on team goal through team member individual tasks. Add that you will always prepare in advance for future teams.
8. Give examples of how a leader can fail
There are two main types of leadership. That which fails and that which succeeds. The interview is definitely looking for a success-minded leader.
A leader can fail by setting unrealistic goals and objectives. You can also fail by not consulting other team members or by using a poor approach to a challenging situation. Remember that challenges can occur on a daily basis.
9. What is the difference between a team leader and a team manager/assistant manager?
A manager or a deputy manager takes care of tasks and responsibilities. Their main objective is getting the work done. A leader on the other hand inspires, motivates, and whips the team to achieve the set goals. They all have different leadership skills.
10. Have you ever led a team without necessarily having the right leadership qualities?
Do not answer this question directly as it is not one of those very common questions that take direct answers. Instead, give a quality answer by showing how you are confident and not afraid. Prove that you can actually handle leadership roles that might be considered bigger than you.
This is a typical situational question that seeks to find transformation leaders with the ability to deal with situations that can appear to be beyond you. Explain how your aim is to focus on the job at hand and eventually get it done within the expected time frame.
11. What role does a leader play for the management teams?
Clearly states that a great leader should communicate vividly and set a great example to the management team.
Explain that a great leader should possess strong decision-making skills in order to effectively help their management teams to meet the organization’s objectives as well as personal workplace goals.
12. What is the greatest change that you brought to an organization?
Give an example of something exemplary you did in a previous job and also the results of the positive change. Be bold to clearly explain the prevailing factors and how they relate to this job interview.
13. How do you motivate your employees?
This question seeks to test the ability to use an alternative approach to the daily tasks of a leader, aimed at improving the professional development of your teams. Explain that you utilize mentorship that entails effective feedback and incentives.
Demonstrate how, for example, you can motivate employees through weekly objectives or even monthly objectives.
14. Is there a time when you are not able to meet deadlines?
Most job applicants score poorly on this question even though it is just a simple question that tests valuable leadership skills. As tricky as this question may seem, use a vivid example where you did not meet the required deadline due to external factors beyond your control.
But also quickly state that this did not prevent you from being an effective team leader nor did it prevent the team goals from being met.
15. How are you able to organize projects and assignments?
State that you are able to do this by setting time limits to tasks in addition to effective communication among team members. The success of projects depends on how effectively you are going to organize your teams.
Demonstrate a strong ability to manage cross-functional teams, solve conflicts between team members and push the entire team forward through to the completion of projects.
16. How can a leader avoid failure?
This question is closely related to question number 8 above, only that it is slightly tweaked to trick you while testing your ability to give compelling answers for related situations. Give a comprehensive answer that explains how to navigate difficult projects because it is indeed the difficult projects that carry the risk of failure.
Say that as a leader you will be able to avoid most of the failures by carefully managing the initial planning process for each task, adjusting the decision-making process on a regular basis, and sustaining the level of trust among teams.
17. What are your strengths?
This is one of those questions that sound easy but most interviewees score poorly. Be sure to have grasped in advance the company mission, company objectives, and company values. If you don’t have these details by the time you show up for the interview, then you can be sure to fail on this question. The interviewer is looking for strengths that will bring value to the company.
Of course one of the strengths should be the ability to influence teams to reach optimal performance. Don’t forget to mention that you have a strong passion for the kind of roles you will be performing if given the job.
18. What is your greatest weakness?
You can say that your greatest weakness is your inability to delegate details as you’re not sure that they will be done in the same way as you do them yourself. This is quite a satisfying answer to the panelists.
19. How do you plan your tasks?
Show the interviewer clearly that you are very organized and time-sensitive. Utilize examples.
20. How do you handle a reaction from making an unpopular decision?
Here you can give an example of a time when you made a decision that was not so well received by your team members. Explain that you listened to their concerns and stood your ground in a respectful manner.
21. How are you able to moderate arguments?
Say that you will listen to both sides first before coming up with a proper verdict based on the facts.
22. Give an example of a time you made a decision without relevant facts
When asked this question, pick a relevant example from your previous roles. Be sure to give different options and how you picked the best of what you had. Explain the outcomes.
23. How do you ensure you achieve your set objectives?
By keeping up with timelines, and giving credit to team members for each milestone achieved.
24. How do you delegate responsibilities in your team?
By matching each member’s strengths with the assigned responsibility. Mention that you give each team member an opportunity to take a new task and sharpen their skills as you monitor their performance.
25. Who are the most important members of your team?
The interviewer wants to evaluate if you understand the importance of applying equality among your team members. State clearly that every team member is equally important as they contribute something unique in a different way.
26. How do you handle occasions when an employee disagrees with your directives?
First, you should listen to why they disagree and try to understand their logic. If it makes sense you can say that you will change the directive if convinced otherwise by the disagreeing party or better still stand firmly by your decision even if it is a difficult situation.
27. How do you work together with the people you have no authority over?
By communicating your opinion clearly, listening to their ideas, and amending where necessary. You also take notes while utilizing the opportunity to learn from them.
28. Have you ever been a member of a successful team?
This is your moment to shine. In fact, boast if you can by outlining the various teams that have succeeded with your input and which role you played. Give an example of a successful team that you have led if any.
29. What kind of criticism do you receive mostly?
Mention that you rarely receive criticism and if you do, mostly it’s positive criticism. Make the interviewer know that you are always open to such as it is a way to ensure professional growth.
30. Which is the most difficult decision to make?
One of the most difficult decisions to make is to let go of an employee with whom you have established a quality level of trust. This is because it takes time to build another great employee besides being a big loss for the organization.
31. How do you deliver bad news to your team?
Elaborate that you will start by preparing the team members physiologically by explaining any bad occurrence with empathy. Mention that you will also seek feedback from the team members on how to avoid such in the future.
32. Between verbal and written communication which one do you prefer?
Be quick to mention that you’re comfortable with either of them. However, you feel that verbal communication is more effective and quicker than written communication. Verbal communication presents the best opportunity to read the body language of individuals.
33. How do you deal with uncertainty while achieving set goals?
State that when unsure of what to do, you seek feedback from the team. Mention that you also consult those above you on how to go about the matter.
34. What is a leader’s best asset?
A leader’s best asset is the ability to motivate, inspire and lead their team by example. It fosters unity which is vital in organizations.
35. What motivates you to be a leader?
The absence of conflicts, positive response, team growth, and achievement of both personal and professional goals are great motivations for a team.
36. How do you measure success as a leader?
By measuring team achievements. When team members achieve the group’s set goal, it can be attributed to your leadership skills and translates to being a successful leader.
37. What is the hardest part of being a leader?
Say that despite being part of the group, a leader is largely alone. All responsibilities fall s on their shoulders hence making it quite difficult for them.
38. Have you ever mentored an aspiring leader?
Give an example of someone you mentored and how they eventually became a great leader like you or even better. Explain that you still monitor their progress.
39. How do you set a good example for the team members?
By ensuring that your actions match your words and that your team always looks up to you for advice. Mention that you set realistic expectations for yourself, same for the team.
40. What kind of a leader would your team say you are?
Boldly mention that your team would describe you as a competent leader who leads by example, demonstrates resolve in the face of obstacles, and rewards achievements.
41. How often is it necessary to meet up with your team?
You should say that you feel like meeting once a week is OK on an agreed timeline by the team members. However, mention that your communication should happen ti new information arises.
42. Are you more effective in a group or on a personal basis?
State that you are more effective in a group as that is the essence of being a team leader. However, you do not hesitate to give personal advice if need be.
43. How do you get your team to embrace your ideas?
By first explaining the benefits of your idea to the team members and how it would apply to them directly. That way, your team members will find it difficult to resist your ideas.
44. Which supporting skills do you require when it comes to leadership?
Give an example of unique skills that you possess. Use this as an opportunity to list useful skills such as life skills, for example, communication skills, empathy, accountability, humility, etc.
45. Name a situation in which a leader may fail.
Again another one on failure. Mention that failure can knock on a leader’s door when employees are negatively oriented, bad economic climate, or due to unfair competition in your industry.
46. How do you encourage the growth of employees?
By mentoring and coaching the employees while giving them opportunities to try out new ventures that do not necessarily relate directly to their work.
47. What is the most significant change you brought to an organization?
Think about what changes you may have influenced in your previous roles. You can also add something significant that your previous leadership position has contributed to your leadership hat!
48. What are some of the top five leadership skills?
Mention persuasion, integrity, communication, innovation, and strategic vision.
49. How do you monitor the performance of those that you are leading?
By keeping accurate records, motivating team members on a consistent basis, and monitoring progress while giving feedback whenever it is valuable to do so.
50. How creative are you as a leader?
This question helps you think outside the box and requires you to give examples where you have demonstrated applied creativity. Use examples from your professional or personal life.
51. How do you communicate with your team members when you are not together physically?
State that there are several methods you personally utilize to communicate and share ideas whenever you are away from the rest of your team members. They include emails, phone calls, video calls. For social or casual communication, you can use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
52. Do you think competition between team members is effective?
The answer should be yes! Healthy competition is encouraged between team members so as to meet the group objectives. Employers can become complacent in the absence of competition.
53. Are you comfortable changing your stance on an issue?
Say that you are a good leader who never entertains rigidity. Also maintain that you are flexible and ever ready to change your stand if a great and more efficient argument is raised by a member.
54. What were your responsibilities in your last position?
Begin by this statement: “In my last position as a team leader, I steered a group of”… Expand to cover the major responsibilities you handled and to what success levels.
55. What value will we achieve if we hire you?
The hiring manager is interested in finding an asset for the company by hiring you. Be sure to demonstrate and explain the unique value you will bring to the company if hired.
Mention your best skills ever, backed by strong examples of how the skills contributed to remarkable achievements in your previous roles.
If you are preparing for a huge leadership interview, then these questions could be your secret weapon to help you win the position. They are all simple as you can see, but the answers you give will determine your success or failure. So take time to master the questions, research deeper for more comprehensive answers and remember to be at your optimal confidence levels on the day of the interview. Methods such as the STAR technique can also go a long way to help you prepare and conquer the interview.
Ever attended a leadership interview before? Feel free to share your experience in the comments section. Remember to share these questions across social media and help a friend to successfully navigate their next career move!