Leadership Interview Questions

During a job interview for a supervisory or leadership position, you will be asked interview questions about leadership. Knowing what these questions might be in advance can give you an edge in the interview process. In this article, you can explore some leadership interview questions and how to answer them.

Why do employers ask leadership interview questions?

Employers ask leadership interview questions to learn more about you. They are looking for soft skills relevant to the job you are applying for. These skills can include motivation, the ability to identify and build on a subordinate’s strengths, communication skills and integrity. 

In addition, employers are determining whether or not you are a good fit for the company, as well as gauging your leadership style.

Common leadership interview questions

Ultimately you know yourself best, but following some general guidelines can help you prepare for any tough interview questions. 

Here are some common leadership interview questions, with examples for answers:

What is your greatest weakness?

Example: ‘My greatest weakness is that I have difficulty delegating. While I understand we’re working as a team, I know I can do some tasks better, but if I don’t delegate these tasks, I’ll assume too much responsibility and miss the deadline. To compensate for this weakness, I have taken some classes in time management and am learning how to assign tasks effectively.’

What is an example of a time you’ve had to assume a leadership role?

Use the STAR response technique here: Situation, Task, Action, Result.

Example: ‘When I was in college, one of my courses required a group term paper and presentation. I assigned each member of the four-person group a task. One person did research at the library while one person did interviews with experts in the field. The third person organized the information we found and the last person did the actual writing based on the information we found. I also formed a group email list to keep everyone updated on our progress. We earned a 95 on the report and a 93 on the presentation. I believe my ability to clearly communicate and delegate helped with our success.’

How do you handle stress?

Example: ‘During stressful situations, I like to double-check that the message sent was the message received. For example, a supervisor once assigned me to lead a group on a deadline-oriented project, and I found duplicate work was being done due to miscommunication. I talked to all parties involved and was able to merge the work to finish the project ahead of schedule.’

How would you describe your leadership style?

Example: ‘I am the type of leader who likes to lead by example and work alongside my subordinates. I expect the best from myself and inspire my subordinates to work hard and focus on the goal. I believe a team leader should support the team when things become difficult, and I hold myself accountable to both my superiors and my team.’

Are you more comfortable with verbal or written communication?

Example: ‘I’m capable of both verbal and written communication, and which style I use depends on the task. For example, I use verbal communication when body language can add to the message being delivered, and written communication when there needs to be a record of what is said. I prefer verbal communication because it is easier to directly check with the other person that the message is clear and concise.’

What’s your greatest achievement?

Example: ‘In college, I took an elective class that involved writing for the campus newspaper. I interviewed one of the university counseling center psychologists about the alarmingly high rate of eating disorders at our university, and wrote an article that detailed what the symptoms were and where to find help. A few days later the psychologist called me to tell me some people had sought her out for help with eating disorders and that the article had saved lives. That was the most rewarding aspect of my time at the campus newspaper.’

What kind of criticism do you get most frequently?

This is similar to ‘What is your greatest weakness?’ Employers ask this to determine if you have self-awareness and are working on improving your weaknesses.

Example: ‘I’m told I tend to interrupt other people when they’re speaking. This is because I get excited, but I realize the value of active listening. I’m working on developing my active listening skills by taking notes and waiting until everyone else has spoken before I give input.’

How do you resolve conflict?

Example: ‘I believe that every conflict has some common ground. I get the story from both sides, mediate, and help the two parties to find that common ground and build from there.’

How do you motivate a team?

Example: ‘I prefer to lead by example and let my hard work inspire others to productivity. I know that each member of the team is important, and we all have a job to do to get the project done on time. I have an open-door policy and encourage clear communication to accomplish each task.’

Why should we hire you?

Employers ask this question to help you stand out among candidates. List your attributes, experience and skills to explain why you’re the best fit for the job. Read the job description ahead of time to know what they are looking for and how you can fill the position.

Example: ‘You should hire me because I have excellent interpersonal skills. In my last job as a retail manager at a clothing store, I placed an order for a dress that was accidentally sold to another customer. I contacted the original buyer, found another similar dress that fit her needs and wrote her a thank-you card with a gift certificate to thank her for her understanding.’