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Interview questions for leadership roles

Use these interview questions for leadership roles to find the best candidates for managerial positions and gauge their ability to manage a team.

What you should ask candidates for leadership roles

When seeking candidates for higher-level positions, look for the following attributes:

  • Strategic vision: Managers are responsible for many of the decisions a company makes and thus also for its growth and progress. You should therefore ask candidates whether they understand the company’s requirements and can help you achieve long-term goals.
  • Aptitude for leadership: Management-level employees have to be able to manage and motivate their team effectively. You should therefore look for individuals who make self-confident decisions, possess good problem-solving skills, and lead by example.
  • Target-oriented approaches: Managers are responsible for their team’s results. You should therefore ask questions that explore candidates’ successes to date. These could be about sales figures or a successful product launch, for instance.

Sample interview questions for leadership roles

Here are a few interview questions that you can ask candidates for leadership roles:

  • How would you describe your leadership style? Tell us about a time when you had to adapt your style due to unforeseen circumstances.
  • What’s the most constructive way to give feedback to an underperforming employee?
  • Are you familiar with 360-degree feedback? How would you react if you received poor feedback from an employee?
  • What’s the best piece of advice you’d share with your team (regarding time or stress management etc.)?
  • How would you respond if a departmental manager routinely disagreed with your ideas?
  • Tell me about a project that you managed successfully from start to finish. What challenges did you have to overcome and how did you do it?
  • How often do you hold meetings with your team and company management? How do you prepare for these meetings?
  • Imagine that your team was disheartened following the failure of a project (or similar). How would you get your employees motivated again?
  • Tell me about an idea that benefited your company. How did you manage to put your plan into action?
  • Tell me about a quick decision you had to make about an urgent matter. How did you make sure that your team heard about it in good time and performed their tasks accordingly?
  • Tell me about a mistake you made in your work. What impact did it have and what did you learn from the episode?

Tips for assessing candidates for leadership roles

  • Ideally, a manager will stay with your company for some time. Keep this in the back of your mind when you interview candidates and look for individuals whose career goals match your company’s objectives.
  • Candidates for leadership roles usually come with many years’ professional experience. You should therefore ask applicants to give you examples from their day-to-day work to see how they approach situations and what they have already achieved.
  • Include the whole of company management in the recruitment process. Look for candidates who fit your corporate culture and the team.
  • Diversity is the key to a successful workplace. Look for candidates with wide-ranging experience.
  • Two or three rounds of interviews can help you complete profiles of your candidates and give you the full picture of them. Look for candidates who combine a knowledge of your sector with social skills.

Warning signs

  • Applicants show signs of stress or discomfort. Put candidates in hypothetical situations to discover how they react to complications. Signs of stress or struggling to answer questions could indicate to you that they also have difficulty in such situations at work.
  • Applicants appear unenthusiastic. Candidates who are actually interested in the role will have read up on the company in advance. Applicants should know about your products/services, competitors, and aims.
  • Applicants have poor presentation skills. Managers are there to represent your company. They talk to customers, attend events and trade shows, and manage a team. If they lack self-confidence or are standoffish or unprofessional, a leadership role will not be the right one for them.
  • Applicants are arrogant. Employees in a managerial position have to make decisions self-confidently. However, this does not mean that they should act like arrogant know-alls. Candidates should be able to admit their mistakes and learn from them.
  • Applicants answer dishonestly. If you notice that candidates are trying to hide something or twist the facts, think very carefully whether you want to invite them to another interview. Managers have to set an example to other colleagues and must therefore be professional, trustworthy, and ethically upstanding.Use these interview questions for management positions to find candidates for management positions and identify their team leadership skills.

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