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interview questions for leadership

Top 30 Interview Questions For Leadership Roles For Hiring Managers

The dread of interviews among potential candidates is understood, but what about hiring managers? Hiring managers might find themselves confused too pretty often. While interviewing large cohorts, asking the right questions becomes essential to analyze them effectively. But what are the right questions to ask in an interview? In this blog, we list 30 questions that help managers understand the leadership ability of their candidates. With the help of these questions, be ready to build the best teams in your organization.

What qualities would you like to see in a good leader?

The first step to any interview is preparation. Before you sit on the wide chair to ask questions, you must understand what you want regarding the qualities and behaviors of the potential candidates. When looking for potential for a role that requires leadership ability, you can begin by understanding a good leader’s essential skills and qualities. For instance, you might feel that good leaders must have an appetite for risk to build innovative teams. Similarly, you will have to start by understanding what makes a good leader. You need to hunt for these qualities in the candidates sitting in front of you.

You can read this blog to learn the top leadership qualities to make this easier.

Moreover, working in isolation might lead you to move in work in one particular direction only. Avoid isolation; instead, involve the opinion of others. You can ask other managers about their assessment of leadership ability. You can also read this blog on the top behaviors managers look for in their team members to understand what the industry defines as a potential candidate for a leadership role.

30 interview questions that reveal the leadership potential of candidates

Leadership is one of the essential skills that a potential candidate can have. You can use these interview questions to test their ability to lead a team and make difficult decisions. Additionally, you can gauge their principles and how they handle difficult conversations. With this information, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about who to interview next!

  • How would you explain your leadership style?
Leadership styles vary a lot, and they affect teams a lot too. For instance, a leader who micromanages too much might find it hard to build mutual trust among their team members. On the other hand, a leader who practices effective delegation can build accountability in their team. Hence, it is crucial to understand their leadership style. This answer also gives an insight into their self-awareness. If you see them agreeing to specific weak points in their leadership style, you can see that they are open to changes and growth.

What are the most common leadership styles? Learn here.

  • Tell us about an instance where you demonstrated leadership skills.
The answer to this question will help you see their leadership style and effectiveness. The potential candidate will typically go back to a scenario where they were in a leadership role. In this situation, you can use their answer to gauge their ability to understand and influence people, specific skills essential to leadership such as delegation and motivation. Their ability to get results via collaboration with a team would be visible here. You can take this as an example for their future actions. You can also ask them about the things they learned from this experience.

  • What are the essential skills of a leader?
Leadership is a function of skills. Therefore, any potential leader should be clear on the skills that make leadership effective. You can identify if they can identify the skills necessary for leadership to be efficient. Moreover, it will also outline the skills they value and attempt to build in themselves. They can talk about the that have helped them so far and those they aspire to learn to grow as a leader.

What are the essential skills of a leader? Learn here.

Behavioral Interviewing masterclass
  • What is the hardest decision you took as a leader?
Leaders have to make harsh decisions at times. Yet, those decisions are made on the bedrock of reason. The goal is to do the best for the team. You need to understand whether your potential candidate can do this or not. While asking these interview questions for leadership roles, you can ask their reasons for the choice to see what they prioritize for the team. It also shows whether they are willing to get out of their comfort zone.

  • How do you make your team stick to the deadlines as a leader?
Managing deadlines by setting SMART goals is essential for leaders and managers. Therefore, it is vital to test this ability of potential leaders. Their answer will tell you how much value they assign to deadlines and achieve them on time. Moreover, they will explain how they make their teams follow the same idea of practical goal setting and achieving them on time.

What are smart goals? Understand now.

  • How do you motivate your team to perform better?
Leaders’ ability to influence and motivate teams is essential in getting things done, like a boss. This question will help you understand how much importance the potential candidate places on motivating their colleagues and which methods they assume are the best for it. It will also show if they are a team player who can bring people together or not, which is an essential quality for a team leader.

  • Have you ever led by example? If yes, how?
Leaders need to set compelling examples of model behavior for their teams. Hence, you can ask them about this. It will show if they are ready to adopt a hands-on approach and get things done by their team. It would help if you looked for people who have worked diligently with their teams to achieve goals despite challenges.

  • Do you think mentorship is an essential role for leaders?
Very often, leaders turn into mentors and coaches for their teams. Coaching skills are especially essential for leaders building their teams from scratch and need to groom employees to occupy their roles ideally. This answer will show the candidate’s understanding of the leader’s function. Is it merely about instructing people, or is there more to it? A holistic understanding will show acceptance of supportive acts like mentoring as an essential part of the leader’s role,

  • Have you ever been a mentor or a coach?
This can be a follow-up question to the one above. Becoming an enabling mentor can differentiate one leader from the rest. Potential candidates who have demonstrated their ability to turn into supportive coaches when needed are the best fit if your team is made of people who are at the very beginning of their professional journeys.

  • How do you respond to suggestions from team members?
It is an important question to ask because it will affect the innovation and creativity of your team. Leaders receptive to their team member’s suggestions are better liked and appreciated by their teams. Such leaders can bring their teams together and generate out-of-the-box ideas that help them develop unique problem-solving approaches. On the other hand, If the leader is disinterested in their teams’ ideas, they might get demotivated.

  • Who is your inspiration as a leader?
Inspirational figures cue inspiration. It gives a clue into the values and ideas the candidate aspires to protect and cherish. Asking this interview question will help you analyze how effectively they can realize the team’s vision. The potential candidate typically centers their answer around a popular figure or a personal relation who has significantly influenced their leadership style.

  • How would you define an ideal leader?
This question is similar to the previous one. The ideal leader would contain the qualities that the potential candidate attempts to build. It gives you an insight into their idea of growing into a leader. You can measure whether such a leader would suit your team or not.

  • Are you open to feedback from your team? If yes, how do you take it?
Feedback is vital for effective leadership. Yet, many leaders fail to realize the value their team’s feedback can provide. Consequently, they lose necessary inputs, which would have helped them maximize efficiency. Hence, it is essential to note whether a leader seeks and considers feedback from their team members. It shows their willingness to learn and improve at their job and demonstrates respect for their team members.

  • How do you deal with criticism of your leadership?
Leaders are not free from criticism. Still, some leaders are not open to constructive criticism and react violently. Hence, you must note that your potential candidate should be open to criticism and look at it as an opportunity to learn and improve. If you see the candidate being impulsive and defensive, they may not be the right fit because, as the face of the team, leaders have to bear significant criticism.

  • How do you work to build a positive culture?
Building a culture conducive to offers and employee satisfaction is essential for leaders. Hence, you should ask them about their value on the workplace’s culture and how they build a culture in their teams. You can also include follow-up interview questions for leadership on the core values they wish to build in the culture and how they plan to deal with objects that harm the team’s culture.

  • What value does your leadership add to the team?
Leaders add immense value to their teams. Their vision and insights help teams develop solutions to challenges that hamper productivity. Influential leaders must be aware of their skills’ value to the team. They should be able to explain how their experience, ideas, and actions will add indispensable value to the team. Along with self-awareness, this answer reveals the ability to analyze and influence.

  • Have you ever taken charge of an out-of-control situation?
Planning is excellent, but it may not always work; that’s where leaders step in. Potential candidates who have shown the ability to create a way out of chaos are great fits for leadership roles. Their experience in handling out-of-control situations can come in handy if your team often faces unexpected challenges owing to a fast-paced work environment.

  • How do you handle a “difficult team”?
Managers and leaders seldom get a smooth ride. Leaders have to deal with various people frequently, a few of whom may be harmful to the environment or productivity of their team. That is why they need to be skilled in handling difficult people effectively. Complex teams bring different challenges that a leader needs to be prepared for. Their conflict resolution and negotiation abilities would be put to the test here.

  • How do you react when demands change rapidly at the last moment?
Uncertainty is part and parcel of leadership; therefore, the candidate should be able to prepare for unanticipated changes. A good candidate would be prepared to take the challenge head-on, even with limited capabilities, and derive learnings from it. On the other hand, some potential candidates might shy away from taking extra responsibilities. Remaining unresponsive in such situations is a major red flag you need to avoid.

  • How do you deal with disappointments at work?
Great leaders turn setbacks into opportunities for learning for their whole teams. Disappointments at work would strike leaders at some point or the other, and you need to find a potential candidate willing to do their best and get the most value out of the experience, even when it has been largely disappointing. You would want to avoid people unwilling to jump back after disappointments at work, as that would demotivate the entire team.

  • How do you develop new ideas? How do you apply them?
Innovation is essential for teams today to overcome typical challenges. Therefore, you must judge the potential candidate’s attitude toward new ideas. If they are not receptive to new ideas, your team might suffer. Also, suitable candidates should appreciate and give due credit to their team members for being innovative. They should facilitate the application of such ideas by providing the proper support and resources.

  • Suppose a team member does not do what you want them to do, what will you do?
People management is essential to the role of the leader. At times, they also have to deal with people who may not follow instructions properly. An effective leader needs to be prepared to deal with employees who are either unwilling or unable to do the requisite things.

  • Are you open to taking a risk?
Leadership often has to take charge when their team is going through challenges. They must face changes and take risks if stuck in novel situations. On the other hand, a potential leader who shows risk aversion might cause your team to stagnate. Hence, your leader must be open to risk and new things that amplify growth.

  • How do you evaluate a potential employee?
Effective leaders can carry out accurate assessments of an employee’s abilities in order to get the best results by effective utilization of their skills and abilities. Hence, when looking for a leader to join your team, you should ask them about their method of evaluating other employees. Ideally, a good candidate should follow practices that permit unbiased reviews of any potential candidate’s abilities and performance.

  • How do you track your team’s performance?
Similarly, leaders should be able to draw an objective analysis of their existing team members’ performance to develop performance-enhancing interventions as and when necessary. On the other hand, if the potential candidate cannot demonstrate the ability to be a free judge of others, it can prove harmful to others. In that scenario, the team suffers due to biases and subjectivity in decision-making.

  • How do you build accountability in your team?
Accountability is an essential quality to have in teams. Therefore, the ability to build personal accountability is essential for potential leaders. Hence, you should ask potential candidates about accountability-building activities they plan to carry out with the team. It also shows the importance of accountability as a value for themselves.

  • How effective is your ability to delegate tasks? How do you delegate tasks to your team?
In continuance with the above question, you can ask them about their ability to carry out delegation effectively. Delegation is often an excellent way to build an attitude of ownership in teams. Hence, managers who practice delegation can build teams that work independently and focus on their goals through intrinsic motivation. Leaders who face difficulties with delegation might fall behind in getting things done by their team.

  • How do you handle disagreements with your team members?
Although leaders are relatively influential, it is not necessary for team members to always agree with them. Hence, good leaders should be prepared to deal with disagreements with their team members and handle them maturely. Candidates who show impulsive reactions or biased judgment may not be the best fit for a leadership role.

Behavioral Interviewing Masterclass
  • What difficult decisions have you made as a leader?
Decision-making is a crucial task for leaders; often, the decisions are hard to make or carry out. Good leaders understand the situation’s needs and make effective decisions after understanding its impact on everyone involved. It demonstrates their critical thinking and future-oriented vision. On the other hand, weak leaders shy away from making difficult decisions and might stagnate their teams due to inactivity.

  • How do you measure your performance at work?
Self-awareness is an essential quality for leaders everywhere. While studying such interview questions for leadership roles, you can analyze a candidate’s level of self-awareness and ability to analyze. A potential candidate might be good at evaluating others, but they might be unfit for the team if they cannot evaluate themselves properly. They would be open to using tools such as self-assessments. On the other hand, a potential candidate who can measure their performance can uphold standards and lead by example in exceeding them.

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Conclusion

Testing the leadership ability of your potential candidates is important for two reasons. First, it helps to identify potential candidates who would be a good fit for your company culture, and second, it helps to ensure that the leaders you appoint are the best fit for the job. By using the interview questions for leadership listed above, you can assess your candidates’ leadership experience and skills. Don’t wait any longer – make wise choices today right from the interviews by picking the right interview questions for leadership roles!

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