Leadership Interview Questions and Answers

When asked, "what is the most important skill you're looking for in job candidates", the number one answer given by employers was "leadership". This includes all job candidates, not just those applying to executive and management level positions. Not surprisingly, leadership is one of the most common competencies (ranked just behind teamwork) that come up in behavioral interviews. In fact, some company's entire interview process is made up of leadership behavioral questions.

While management is an important skill companies are seeking, it's only one component of leadership. Management is a hands-on competency that involves planning, organization and controlling functions. In addition to management skills, leadership includes the ability to listen, motivate and inspire.

Even if you're just applying for an entry-level position, you need to be comfortable responding to leadership related interview questions. Every serious job seeker should come to an interview prepared with at least one example of a leadership experience they can share. It doesn't even have to be a job related leadership role. Recent college graduates can talk about leadership experienced gained through voluteer work, clubs, projects, or even hobbies.

  • How do organizations recruit and train leaders?
  • What characteristics do all leaders share?

Interviewers utilize leadership questions to assess whether candidates being considered for management positions would be effective leaders.

Since most organizations rely on effective leadership to operate smoothly, candidates for management jobs are asked several questions to determine their leadership skills and potential.

Behavioral leadership interview questions and tips

  • Explain a situation where you served as a leader during: a group project, an organized work project or activity, or a community service project. Explain in detail your role and how individuals responded to your leadership.
  • Explain a situation where you had an opinion that differed from a manager. Were you able to persuade the manager to change his or her opinion?
  • Explain a time when subordinates you supervised disagreed with your directives. How did you handle it?
  • How do you resolve conflict? What specific strategies have you used to be successful?
  • If your managers were asked to rate your leadership skills, how would they reply? What would subordinates say?

Tips on answering these questions:

Interviewers want you to provide specific examples to demonstrate your leadership abilities and potential. They typically ask these types of questions:

Why would employees under your supervision follow you? How do you motivate others? What steps do you take to ensure employees are working hard and efficiently?

To effectively answer these questions, provide specific examples from work, school activities, community service projects, or any other project where you supervised others. Likewise, explain in detail how others responded to your leadership directives.

Project leadership & team leadership skills: team lead interview questions and answers

  • How frequently do you meet with project members?
  • Identify important project members?
  • What steps do you take to motivate others?
  • Explain how you've solved a conflict by utilizing effective listening skills?
  • How do you organize projects and prioritize tasks?
  • Provide examples of when and why you were satisfied with past project results?
  • Can you reach project objectives in fast-paced settings?
  • Do you meet project deadlines? If you haven't met a deadline in the past, explain why.
  • Do you effectively delegate responsibilities? Could you have better utilized team members' assistance in the past?

Answer:
Interviewers are curious to learn about the methods you utilize to organize projects, supervise others, and meet objectives.

Be sure to explain in detail the steps you take when overseeing projects and handling common problems. Interviewers will want to know how you: delegate responsibility and utilize team members, manage time to meet deadlines, and motivate others.

Leadership and Decision making skills, leadership and analytical thinking skills

  • Explain a circumstance where you made a decision without all the relevant facts.
  • What steps do you take to resolve complicated problems?
  • Explain a time when you changed an opinion after acquiring new facts and data.
  • Explain a situation where you made an incorrect conclusion. What factors led to it?
  • Should a decision maker be right all the time?

Tips on answering these questions:
Effective leaders typically make smart choices. They must also be willing to make unpopular decisions or act when others are unwilling. People often avoid making important decisions because they fear they'll become unpopular or be criticized by management.

When answering these questions, provide personal examples from previous work experiences. Describe the steps you take to solve problems, make decisions, conduct risk management, and evaluate results.

Leadership: Personal Communication Skills for leaders

  • Do you prefer relaying information through public speaking or written reports?
  • How do you formulate arguments and present them to others?
  • What are other ways of communicating aside from speaking? How do you utilize non-verbal communication?
  • How do you clarify unclear or vague messages?
  • What steps do you take to remain engaged during conversations?

Answer:

Poor communication is the root of many work problems. When co-workers fail to communicate, organizational efficiency breaks down and time must be devoted to correct avoidable problems.

When asked about how you communicate with colleagues, describe in detail how you relay important messages and follow up. Also, describe how you listen attentively to others and ask good follow up questions.

When preparing for interviews where leadership questions will be asked, take some time to determine what good qualities you've witnessed from past leaders. Incorporate these qualities into your responses.

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