Leadership Interview Questions

People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. – John Maxwell

While every business realizes the importance of having good leaders, rarely do they find the perfect candidates. As per a statistic, about seventy-seven per cent of businesses claim that they lack leadership in their place.

This leads to several issues that can impact the day-to-day functioning of the business. In certain scenarios, it can even lead to the complete downfall of the company. Looking at the FTX fiasco, one can understand why strong leadership matters.

Thus, when hiring for a leadership role, such as a CEO or a manager, it is important to take the time to ask the right questions to ensure we are selecting the best candidate for the role. Here are some key leadership interview questions that can help us identify if a prospective employee has what it takes to be an effective leader:

What strategies do you use when leading a team?

This question provides insight into how the candidate approaches team management. Listen for indications that they are comfortable with delegation, have a clear vision for the project and demonstrate an ability to motivate others.

We can follow up on this question by asking the candidate to provide instances from their lives. Similarly, we can also create a hypothetical situation and ask the candidate what strategy they would use in that scenario.

What challenges have you faced when leading teams?

The best leaders don’t shy away from challenges but instead learn from their mistakes and use them to improve in future scenarios. The candidate’s response should express an understanding of their mistakes and how they overcame them. Listen carefully to how the candidate responds and look for examples of how they solved problems and managed difficult situations.

If a candidate says that they haven’t faced any challenge as such in leadership roles, then they probably are lying. It is better to keep such candidates out of contention for the job position.

How do you handle difficult conversations with team members?

Leaders must be able to have productive conversations with their team, even when the topic is contentious or uncomfortable. Are they willing to own up to mistakes, provide constructive feedback and encourage open dialogue? Look for signs that they are prepared to have difficult conversations professionally and respectfully.

Empathy, communication, problem-solving, emotional intelligence, and decision-making skills are qualities that a good leader should possess. This helps them get along with team members and find solutions to problems without letting egos get in their way.

Describe a time when you had to make a difficult decision.

This question offers insight into how the candidate approaches problem-solving under pressure. Gauge their ability to think logically and for their decision-making process. Do they take into account the views of others and look at the bigger picture when making decisions? If not, this could be a cause for concern.

What do you consider to be the most important qualities of a leader?

Pay attention to the qualities the candidate lists and judge how closely they match our definition of leadership. Are these traits demonstrated in their answers to other questions, or does one need to probe further? Are they able to provide concrete examples of when they have demonstrated these qualities?

Some of the important leadership qualities that they should mention include teamwork, communication, empathy, critical and logical thinking, self-awareness and time management.

How do you motivate and inspire your team?

Leading a team is more than just managing tasks. Good leaders can motivate, inspire and mentor their team. Watch for signs that the candidate understands the importance of creating a positive and engaging culture that drives progress toward fulfilling goals.

How do you stay up to date on the latest developments in your industry?

Leaders should have a good understanding of the current trends and issues in their industry. This can give us an indication of how well the candidate keeps up with changes, stays informed and can use new information to inform their decision-making process.

How do you handle criticism and feedback?

Leaders should be able to receive constructive criticism with grace and humility. Listen for signs that the candidate is open to feedback and is willing to take it on board to improve their performance. Ask the candidate to provide a real-life example. This provides a better understanding of how they have dealt with criticism and feedback previously.

What do you think sets you apart as a leader?

This is an opportunity for the candidate to highlight their unique strengths and qualities. Pay close attention to how they describe themselves and judge themselves as a leader. It will tell us a lot about whether they are a leader or a boss.

There is a difference between being a leader and being a boss. Both are based on authority. A boss demands blind obedience; a leader earns his authority through understanding and trust.Klaus Balkenhol

What is the best and the worst part of being in a leadership role? Explain your answers

The candidate’s answer to this question can provide us with a deeper understanding of what being a leader means to them. Their answer can provide insights into whether they thoroughly understand the duties and responsibilities of being a leader.

These are some questions that can help you identify whether a candidate has the leadership skills to be selected for the job role. Based on the answers given by the candidate, one can determine whether they have the right leadership skills required for a company.

Tips for Assessing Leadership Skills

Every candidate will claim to be the perfect fit for the job role. They will claim to possess all the necessary leadership skills required. But, in reality, not everyone will do it. So, how do we identify true leaders? Here are some tips that can help assess true leadership skills.

See How They Communicate Their Answers

Communication skills are essential for a leadership role. If the candidates are fumbling or providing unclear answers, then it means they don’t have the right communication skills. So, instead, shortlist candidates that provide crisp, clear, and to-the-point answers.

Look For Creativity

Leaders often need to come up with creative solutions to problems faced in daily operations. Thus, a desirable candidate for a leadership role must have the ability to think out-of-the-box. They must be able to make quick decisions when things don’t go as planned. This can prove to be vital for the company.

We, Not Me

A leader is nothing without their team. Thus, one of the most essential qualities that they must possess is teamwork. While performing as the leader, they must also be a team player. They must not consider themselves different from the team. So, look for candidates that are team players. This will prove highly beneficial for the growth of the employees as well as the business on the whole.

Having the right people in leadership roles is essential for the growth and success of any company. The questions mentioned above will help you find the best candidates with the right leadership skills. They will propel your company to new heights.

So, go ahead and use this question bank to ask the right questions and find the right candidates for your company.

Good luck!

Happy hiring!

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