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Leadership & Management

15 Leadership Interview Questions

Good leadership is paramount to an organisation's success. Companies with strong, well-knitted, efficient, and reliable leadership tend to thrive, even in difficult times.

That's why businesses want to hire competent individuals with a vision for greatness in leadership roles. If you're scheduled for an interview for such a role, it's best to familiarise yourself with a few potential questions. 

Here are 15 leadership interview questions you can expect the interviewer to ask you. We also provide sample answers to give you an idea of how to respond.

What Are Leadership Interview Questions?

First, let us decode "leadership." In an organisation, this term could refer to any role where you have to lead a team. Examples include: 

  • Project manager

  • Team leader

  • Supervisor

  • Director 

  • C-Suite roles (CEO, COO, CFO) 

The exact leadership roles may differ across industries. For example, in construction, leadership roles may include site manager, construction manager, and project director. In healthcare, leadership roles are head nurse, chief medical officer, executive director, medical director, and hospital administrator.

When you apply for such roles, the top management or HR at the respective organisations vet you through certain questions. 

What would these questions entail, though? That depends on the organisation and role. In most cases, the interviewer wants to know about your leadership style and past performance. They may also ask you how you: 

  • Meet deadlines 

  • Collaborate with teams 

  • Lead team members 

  • Use transferable skills 

  • Stay organised

  • Remain rational under stress 

The bottom line is if you know the basic questions, you can ace your interview. That's what we'll help you with. 

15 Common Leadership Interview Questions

Remember, the questions will not be the same across job roles and companies. However, we have included the most common leadership questions to give you a blueprint for your preparations. Let's dive in.

1. What Do You Think Are Important Leadership Skills?

We all know what leadership skills are. The interviewer does, too. So, it’s best not to narrate the skills list you saw on Google. Instead, show personal insight when answering this question. 

A rookie mistake is to answer with common skills like honesty, communication, organisation, and motivation. These are crucial, but they don't make you stand out. 

For instance, Vik Malhotra told McKinsey that "great CEOs are bold." Now, that's a skill that will get the interviewers interested in your mindset. In simpler words, identify the skills that you think are important and show how they've helped you lead better. 

Sample Answer: I believe that adaptability, decisiveness, and resilience are important leadership skills. Besides, a leader should also be empathetic and possess excellent communication and problem-solving skills to manage and motivate their team effectively.

2. Which Leadership Style Do You Use?

There are four main types of leadership styles: 

  • Direct: In this style, you offer direct assistance. You don't go out of your way to help, but you're approachable. It's ideal for contractors and freelance workers. 

  • Support: Here, you're flexible in your approach. You encourage collective growth and allow every employee to be a contributing partner. Even though you facilitate collaboration, you have the final say. 

  • Coach: As a coach, you take a more hands-on approach. You direct and guide your team members to reach their full potential. 

  • Delegate: In this approach, you entrust your team with responsibilities and allow them to be more independent. 

The reason an interviewer asks this question is that they want to learn about your leadership style. Will it complement the company? Or will it disrupt their existing system? 

Sample Answer: I employ a mix of leadership styles, staying flexible and adapting to different situations and team members. I believe in providing support and guidance while empowering my team members to take on responsibilities and make decisions.

3. Tell Us About a Time When You Faced a Challenging Situation as a Leader. How Did You Overcome It?

As a leader, facing challenges is inevitable. It's how you handle them that counts. A good leader uses their experience and skills to handle challenging situations effectively. 

At the end of the day, it all comes down to the problem going away. That's what an employer wants from you. 

Sample Answer: In my previous role as a construction site manager, our job site had an issue with equipment theft. I resolved this issue by integrating a telematics system into our equipment to track its location and usage. I complemented the system with IoT sensors and cameras to monitor the equipment's movements and alert us of any unauthorised use. These measures resulted in zero instances of equipment theft during my tenure.

4. How Do You Build and Maintain a High-Performing Team?

The interviewer wants to check your ability to create a high-performing team. Your answer should highlight your understanding of the importance of team dynamics. Also, explain how you foster a culture of teamwork and collaboration. 

If you use any special frameworks or rules, mention those, too. 

Sample Answer: I start by hiring the right individuals with the necessary skills and experience for their roles. Then, I set some team-level goals that tie in with the organisation's objectives. After communicating these goals, I work with my team to develop a clear plan of action and assign tasks based on individual strengths. If needed, I create opportunities for training and mentorship along the way.

5. How Do You Handle Disagreements or Confrontations in a Team?

When answering these questions, make sure you highlight your conflict-resolution skills. Don't merely discuss the type of disagreements or conflicts. The interviewers know about them already. They want to know what you would do in such a situation. 

Sample Answer: When a disagreement arises, I use a blend of active listening, open communication, mediation, and collaborative problem-solving. I step in as a mediator. Then, I listen to every side of the argument and encourage my team members to do the same. Next, I identify the root cause of the issue and come up with possible solutions that satisfy everyone or at least gather us all on a middle ground.

6. How Do You Manage Deadlines?

In any leadership role, it's your responsibility to meet project schedules. By asking this question, the interviewer will gauge your: 

  • Project management skills

  • Team management skills

  • Prioritisation and time-management abilities 

Sample Answer: I break down the project into smaller, more manageable tasks with specific timelines. Then, I assign these to my team members based on their workload and expertise. To ensure we meet the deadlines, we have regular check-in meetings to track progress, identify potential roadblocks, and make necessary adjustments. I also use project management tools to stay organised and on track.

7. Suppose You Have an Underperforming Team Member. How Would You Motivate Them?

Every team, regardless of the industry, has some underperforming team members. Sometimes, they just need an extra push. At other times, they need motivation. Tell the interviewer what you would do in such a situation. 

Sample Answer: I believe in having open and honest communication with my team members. So, I would sit down with the underperforming team member and have a one-on-one conversation to understand their challenges. Then, I'd take measures to resolve their issues so that they can perform at par.

8. How Do You Delegate Tasks?

To answer this question, you can throw in some examples from your past experience, highlighting how you assign tasks to team members. 

Sample Answer: When delegating tasks, I first assess the strengths and weaknesses of my team members. Who is better at what? I check their past performances, workloads, and current commitments, too. Then, I assign them tasks that align with their expertise. For example, if a team member is good at data analysis, I would delegate tasks related to that area.

9. Tell Us About an Instance Where You Lead by Example. 

In response to this question, you just need to talk about a past project where you had to lead by example. No other information is necessary. 

Sample Answer: During my previous job, our team was working on a tight deadline to deliver a project. I noticed that some of my colleagues were getting overwhelmed and stressed out. So, I took it upon myself to stay calm and focused amid the chaos. I worked extra hours and showed my team that nothing is impossible if we work together and give our best.

10. What Approach Do You Take to Deliver Feedback?

Feedback helps employees become better at their jobs. Leaders may deliver feedback in person or through a communication channel like email or Slack. Tell the interviewer which route you'd take. 

Sample Answer: I prefer providing regular feedback to my team members, whether positive or constructive. I usually schedule one-on-one meetings to discuss their performance. Sometimes, I also provide project-specific feedback through email. But that depends on the project's specifics.

11. Tell Us About Your Approach to Employee Development. 

Companies provide employee development opportunities through training, mentorship, conferences, or financial assistance for education. How do you guide your team members to reach their career goals? 

Sample Answer: I take a coach approach to employee development. For example, in my previous role as a project manager, our social media manager shared that he was interested in graphic design. So, I encouraged him to take online courses and assigned him design-related tasks. My point is I don't take a one-fits-all approach. Instead, I understand each employee's unique strengths and interests and guide them toward their career goals accordingly.

12. How Do You Take Feedback as a Leader?

Leaders don't only give feedback; they also receive it. Respond in a way that tells the interviewer that you're not only open to receiving feedback but also use it to become a better leader. 

Sample Answer: I always welcome feedback because it helps me identify areas where I can improve as a leader. Even if it's criticism, I try to understand the perspective of the person giving it and use their feedback to make positive changes in my performance.

13. How Do You Monitor Your Team's Performance?

Most organisations use several metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to track team performance. Nowadays, apps and tools also make it easier to monitor productivity. Which of these do you use? That's what the interviewer wants to know. 

Sample Answer: I set KPIs for every project when my team starts working on it. Then, I measure their progress using those metrics. I also use project management tools like Trello or Asana to see all these metrics in the same dashboard. It just helps in better decision-making.

14. How Do You Monitor Your Team's Performance?

Most organisations use several metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to track team performance. Nowadays, apps and tools also make it easier to monitor productivity. Which of these do you use? That's what the interviewer wants to know. 

Sample Answer: I set KPIs for every project when my team starts working on it. Then, I measure their progress using those metrics. I also use project management tools like Trello or Asana to see all these metrics in the same dashboard. It just helps in better decision-making.

15. How Do You Manage and Resolve Ethical Dilemmas in a Leadership Role?

Modern businesses have to navigate complex ethical situations, and the interviewer wants to know how you handle them. These could be anything from questionable business practices to conflicts of interest. 

Sample Answer: I firmly believe in ethical leadership and make sure to uphold high standards in all my decisions. In situations where there is a conflict of interest or an ethical dilemma, I always consult with my team and gather their perspectives. I also consider the impact of my decision on all stakeholders and seek guidance from superiors or legal experts if needed. Ultimately, I prioritise transparency and ethical behaviour in all my leadership actions. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is It Hard to Get Leadership Roles? 

No, it is not hard to get leadership roles as there's less competition for this position. However, you must put in extra effort and learn the necessary leadership skills to meet the requirements for these roles.

What Skills Do I Need to Be a Leader? 

Some of the most crucial skills you need to be a leader are technical knowledge, communication, problem-solving, decision-making, adaptability, and emotional intelligence. 

How Do I Get My First Leadership Role? 

You can get your first leadership role by taking a course in the relevant field. Once you have the necessary skills, apply for leadership roles in your current job. Or, you can apply externally. Apply to as many leadership roles as possible to increase your chances of getting one.

Conclusion

Are you planning to score a high-paying job in a leadership role? If yes, you now know which questions to prepare. 

But before you do that, hone your leadership skills. The Professional Academy Diploma in Leadership & Management is an excellent starting point. This course will help you learn about everything from coaching and mentoring to teamwork and change management. 

After finishing this course, you'll be adept at dealing with the challenges and responsibilities of a leadership role. Even better, you'll be set to take some additional courses for skill enhancement. Find more UCD Academy courses here.

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