Top 20 Leadership Interview Questions and Answers

Recruiters look for specific core skills in applicants that help retain them as company assets in the form of potential future leaders. Leadership skills are a blend of essential strategic management and people skills that make candidates stand out and gain an edge over their peers at company interviews for senior positions. The ideal candidate impresses interviewers with their poise, ability to draw references from real-life experiences, and collaborative qualities. 

In this blog, we discuss what these skills are, why they are sought after, and how you can prepare for the top 20 leadership interview questions that prospective employers routinely ask to identify and assess a candidate for a leader’s role. 


Top 20 Leadership Interview Questions and Answers

1. Tell me/us about the time you demonstrated leadership skills at work?

Draw references from previous work experiences where you took the initiative to lay out a successful strategy for a project, how you delegated tasks to your team members according to their strengths to maximize the outcome, organized the entire presentation with collaborative efforts, and delivered results.

2. What is your leadership style?

Even if you have never spearheaded a project, it is best not to be straightforward about this with your interviewer. Match your thinking patterns and behavioral approaches with a leadership style that defines you. Think about real and imagined situations in workplace scenarios, and come up with a befitting answer. 

3. Which supporting skills do you think are more important for a leader?

Think about the personal qualities that encouraged, inspired, and engaged your teammates to perform better in the past. Empathy, respect, trustworthiness, effective communication, and good problem-solving abilities are required to be a good team leader.

4. How do you manage a conflict situation?

Conflict of interests or ideas is inevitable in the workplace. Give real-life examples when you encountered warring team members, kept your calm, listened with intent to understand individual perspectives, and offered dispassionate suggestions for desirable results.

5. What was the hardest decision you have taken as a leader? What helped you to prompt the best course of action?

If there was ever a time in your career where you were at crossroads, explain to them about it and justify your reason for choosing a decision you thought was most suitable at the time.

6. How do you ensure your team delivers quality work within the specified timeframe and budget?

Pick up instances from your career where you steered a project successfully. You can go ahead and explain how you outlined the project scope, created realistic targets, broke up the project into workable plans, set expectations, and built accountability within your team. Then, talk about the results — how your team met the target and achieved results without compromising quality scores. This is also a good time to talk about client appreciation.

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7. How do you motivate an under-performing team member?

Under-performers usually suffer from many mental blocks and professional challenges that stop them from giving their best. As a leader, tell your interviewer how you would address these underlying issues by designing solid plans for your employees to train them on effective self-management to attain their full potential.

8. Tell me/us about your approach to delegation?

To handle this question the best way, you can begin by sharing your understanding of how vital it is for leaders to train their eyes and mind to choose the best fit for task delegation. It would help if you also talked about the importance of providing relevant instructions, resources, and training to the concerned group and positive feedback to boost employee morale.  

9. Can you describe a time when you led by example?

You can refer to incidents when you worked diligently along with your team members to get a task completed within a tight deadline. Or you may talk of other similar events where you led and inspired them to complete work under unfavorable circumstances.

10. Have you ever served in a mentor role? 

You can think about the opportunities you got in your career to wear the mentor’s mantle to guide, train, and connect your mentee with a world of possibilities through a working network. 

11. How do you monitor a team’s performance?

Besides keeping a close eye on your team’s performance, you can also mention technological tools that help your team to track their performance. It’s a great idea to tell them how you compare your observations with theirs and follow up with action plans for those in need.

12. How would you boost a sagging team’s morale?

Team members can be easily distracted and demoralized on flimsy grounds. Explain to your interviewer how you would keep the lines of communication open and transparent, fill gaps in communication, offer employee recognition, and have trained managers on the team to oversee other details to maximize team productivity and prevent sagging morale.

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13. How do you respond to ideas/suggestions from team members?

A competent leader has an open mind and is receptive to constructive feedback from their employees. Tell your interviewer how you believe in the power of collaboration, and share instances where you achieved positive results because of it.

14. Who do you look up to as an ideal leader, and why?

You can name any person from your life/work sphere who has positively impacted you with their subtle teachings and exemplary leadership qualities. 

15. How do you respond to criticism at the workplace?

Emotional detachment is the key to success in any work sphere. You can explain why you choose to ignore negative comments but welcome constructive criticism that fosters professional growth.

16. What steps do you take to measure your performance at work?

Explain the measures you take to evaluate your growth each day, like keeping a checklist, seeking feedback, rating your performance, taking refresher courses on critical skills for a leader, and staying relevant to your position with changing times.

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17. How do you evaluate the capabilities of a new team member? 

Go on to explain how you will get copies of job descriptions, learn about employee roles, performance rated by the outgoing manager, and targets achieved in their capacity (and collectively as a unit), to help you evaluate a new team.

18. How can you contribute to a positive work culture?

Explain the importance of providing a safe and secure working environment for employees to thrive. The strategies to achieve this could include setting attainable goals, providing a flexible work practice, keeping the lines of communication transparent and accessible, offering positive reinforcements, and helping your team maintain good work-life balance. All of these practices contribute to a positive work culture.

19. If you suddenly become short-staffed before a deadline, how will you manage the deliverables without compromising their quality and timeframe?

Explain to your interviewer how you will immediately communicate the unforeseen departure to the rest of the employees in the team. What steps you would take to encourage the team to push limits to meet the deadline, coming up with smart plans and short-cuts. At the same time, how would you prevent resentment and low morale among those who are having to pull the extra weight? Talk about how you would negotiate compensation for them or make them feel valued for the additional efforts.  

20. How can your presence add value to the company?

To answer this question adequately, you need to have a clear understanding of the job role, what skills the recruiters have outlined in the job description, and what are the company’s missions and goals. With the knowledge of these key things, you can build yourself up as the ideal candidate through this answer. Go on to describe how you can apply your experience, expertise and skills from your present role as a team leader to fulfill what the hiring company needs. In short, your answer should cover the company’s requirements and how your capabilities and qualifications uniquely position you to meet them. 

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