The Top 9 Leadership Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

By Indeed Editorial Team

June 11, 2021

Outstanding leaders play a critical role in a company's success. They motivate their teams to achieve goals by providing them with moral and professional support. That's why recruiters ask tailored interview questions to assess candidates' leadership skills for high-level positions such as business executives, managers, and supervisors. However, you can showcase your leadership capabilities no matter the position or your experience level. In this article, we explore common leadership interview questions and how to answer them.

Frequently asked interview questions about leadership

Every leadership question is different depending on the position. The questions an interviewer asks a candidate seeking a supervisor position differ from the questions that the same interviewer asks a candidate for an executive position.

No matter the leadership position you're pursuing, there are some questions you should expect to answer in an interview. Highlight your leadership experience while answering such questions.

You can use the popular STAR model to explain situations when you've exhibited leadership skills. Give specific examples of the situation, the task at hand, the actions you took, and the positive result. Using this strategy shows the interviewer that you can apply your leadership experience to the new role.

Here are some examples of how to answer these nine common interview questions:

1. Which leadership skills do you value most?

Leadership skills are crucial in every career. However, certain leadership skills are more valuable than others. This interview questions enables the candidate to define their understanding of leadership. You should showcase crucial leadership qualities and skills. Some of the most valuable leadership skills to mention include team building, reliability, decision-making, problem-solving, and active listening.

Example: “While there are many leadership skills every leader should possess, I believe skills such as reliability, accountability, and empathy are some of the most valuable leadership skills. I use them every day, and always valued those qualities in people who led me in the past.”

2. What's your leadership style?

Different leadership styles suit different workplaces and work teams. The recruiter will ask you this question to access your leadership style. Your answer needs to outline the various leadership styles and then showcase the leadership style that best describes you. Provide proof of your personal leadership style in your answer.

Example: “I believe I'm a transformational leader because I motivate my team to work hard and aim to align their passions with the company's interests. I like to lead by example and inspire my team to reach both individual and team goals. In my previous role, I implemented a rewards and recognition program which really helped my team stay motivated during busy periods.

3. How do you keep projects on schedule?

As a leader, you're responsible for communicating your team's goals and tracking progress to ensure they meet deadlines. This leadership questions helps you showcase your organizational and time-management skills. While answering this question, kindly explain how you manage tasks, track progress and set goals to stay on schedule.

Example: “I use Microsoft Project to keep a detailed schedule and set clear deadlines. I like having one point of reference that my team can use to stay on track and see our progress. Being adaptable is key, so I'm always ready to adjust the project goals and how we achieve them to ensure we meet important deadlines.

4. How do you set goals?

Great leaders understand the importance of goal setting. This leadership interview question gauges whether you can set effective goals for yourself and your team. Consider citing your goal-setting process such as the SMART format to help you set specific, achievable, measurable, relevant and time-bound goals.

Example: “I use the SMART structure when setting my goals. In my current role, I take time to think about the goals I want to achieve and whether they're achievable. Once I set the goals, I strategize on how to realize them and which measures and deadlines to put in place to meet them. I then delegate tasks to team members according to their individual strengths. I use a visual progress tracker for measuring our short- and long-term progress.

5. How do you deal with workplace conflicts?

A great leader needs to be adept at handling workplace conflict. They need to think creatively and make decisions that benefit the team and find solutions to problems. Your answer to this interview question should showcase how you leverage your communication and problem-solving skills to keep the team working together cohesively. Illustrate a moment you were vital in solving a workplace conflict.

Example: “I facilitate discussion whenever there are workplace conflicts among my team. In my previous role, some members of staff had different views on how to complete a project. I had to step in and solve their disagreement because it was compromising the team's ability to meet our deadline. I called a meeting with the entire team to discuss both sides and mediated a respectful discussion. Everyone in the team worked together to brainstorm and agree on a suitable solution.

6. How do you make tough decisions as a leader?

Leaders have to make difficult decisions on behalf of their companies and staff. Outstanding leaders are effective decision-makers and evaluate the impact of their decisions before making them. Your answer to this leadership interview question needs to showcase your critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills. Provide an example of a situation where you had to make a difficult leadership decision.

Example: “I once had to decide whether to outsource work to an established graphic designer, or give it to one of our in-house marketing team members. Our employee was eager to use her graphic design training, but she had only learned through an online short course. The project was on a tight budget and deadline, so getting it right the first time was key.

I weighed the risks and benefits and decided to give her the work. I like to encourage my team members and provide them with career development opportunities, and it was better for our budget. With my support, she completed the work on time and to a high standard. She was thrilled, and we completed the project under budget with the money we saved by not outsourcing."

7. Have you ever faced a leadership challenge? How did you overcome it?

Recruiters know experienced leaders face challenges in their careers. This situational question assesses your ability to handle challenges while leading a team. A skilled leader must be able to guide and motivate their teams to succeed, regardless of the obstacles they meet along the way. Answer this leadership interview question with an example that illustrates how you handled a challenge effectively.

Example: "**We were fast approaching the deadline for a project my team was handling, and the pressure was affecting productivity. As the project manager, I had the challenge of ensuring our company was meeting its goals. I took on some key tasks to take the pressure off my team members, giving them more time to focus and produce their best quality work."

8. What makes you an effective team leader?

Leaders need to communicate team goals effectively so that they can be on par with their teams. This is vital for ensuring timely completion of projects. This leadership interview question allows you to explain to the interviewer what makes you an effective team leader.

Example: "I'm an effective team leader because I always maintain open communication channels with my team. Making my employees feel empowered to ask questions and come to me with concerns improves their confidence and performance. At the beginning of a project, I always start by communicating my expectations to the team. I highlight everything and hold a question period to ensure everyone understands the scope. I also encourage collaboration among my team members, which is another reason I'm a strong leader.

9. What parameters do you use to evaluate your team's performance?

Leaders need to evaluate the performance of their teams to ensure they're all working together towards a common goal. They can also use performance evaluations to identify where their team members are excelling and the areas that they need to improve. Outstanding leaders know how to use data-driven insights to track performance and improve efficiency. Your answer to this leadership interview question shows your ability to evaluate your team's performance.

Example: “I know how to use research-driven data to evaluate the performance of my teams. I believe my team members perform their best when they're happy and passionate about their roles. That's why I monitor everyone's performance individually to see whether they need motivation or support. I hold regular one-on-one meetings to share their performance evaluations and offer guidance and tools to develop their skills**.