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Interview questions about leadership skills

You can ask your candidate questions from this collection to test their leadership skills. The questions will give you a better insight into your applicants’ experience, leadership styles, and aptitude for leadership.

Why you should ask candidates questions about their leadership skills

If you are looking to fill a higher-level vacancy (e.g. team leader), you should pay attention to your applicants’ social skills, which may reflect their leadership styles. This can include the following:

  • Motivation: how they use feedback and appreciation to inspire a boost in productivity.
  • Work instructions: how they identify employees’ strengths and weaknesses in order to assign tasks.
  • Communication: how they motivate team members to share ideas but also raise concerns.
  • Integrity: how they handle confidential information, cope with working relationships, and follow company-specific practices in order to serve as a role model for their team.

Good leaders contribute to the value of a company by fostering a collaborative environment and welcoming new ideas. Interview questions that hone in on candidates’ leadership skills help recruiters to get a better insight into how they work. Use examples related to the job to understand how candidates:

  • manage or work with a team to achieve the company’s objectives;
  • motivate their colleagues;
  • deal with challenges and conflicts in a team;
  • make decisions.

These interview questions can reveal candidates’ leadership potential even if they are only applying for entry-level positions. Employees with leadership skills and experience tend to show dedication to their job and overcome hurdles promptly.

These simple questions about leadership skills will help you to find out whether your applicants have what it takes to become a good leader. Combine these interview questions with those on management skills and conflict management skills to produce well-rounded candidate profiles and make better recruitment decisions.

Sample interview questions about leadership skills

  • Tell me about a time when you struggled with your work/life balance. Did you manage to solve the problem? How did you do it?
  • Tell me about a group project where you took the lead. What was the outcome of the project?
  • Tell me about an idea that improved the company in one way or another. How did you make sure that it was implemented?
  • Two colleagues leave your team just before the deadline for a big project. How would you adapt your leadership style to get finished on time?
  • How do you monitor the performance of individual team members?
  • In what specific ways do you motivate your team?
  • How do you decide on remuneration for your team members?
  • How would you describe your leadership style?

Tips for assessing leadership skills in interviews

  • Ask questions about specific situations. Every candidate will claim to possess communication and motivational skills. Interview questions that target specific behaviors and situations will help you to identify how they use these skills in a work setting.
  • Leading is not just about knowing things. A good leader shares their company’s values and helps it grow over the long term. Pick candidates who aspire to grow and who are interested in developing their career further.
  • Team leaders are involved in recruiting and training new colleagues. You should therefore ask interview questions that enable you to gauge candidates’ familiarity with this process.
  • A good leader is tenacious in tough times. You should therefore use work-related examples of leadership to find out how applicants respond to challenges and handle difficult decisions.
  • Ask questions that reveal candidates’ creativity. Employees who can make quick decisions even when things aren’t going as planned can turn out to be a great boon to your company.

Warning signs

  • Applicants have a negative attitude. It’s important for people in leadership roles to contribute to a positive team spirit. Applicants who focus on negative aspects or don’t bring enough energy to the table will struggle to motivate the rest of their team.
  • Applicants answer dishonestly. If you spot inconsistencies in your applicants’ answers, this indicates that they lack a certain degree of professionalism. Managers usually assume a strategic role in a company. You should therefore look for candidates who are honest, ethically upstanding, and willing to admit their mistakes.
  • Applicants are inflexible. Experienced candidates for a leadership role may already be used to a certain way of working. Applicants should be readily adaptable to different circumstances if they are to be good leaders.
  • Applicants are arrogant. Being a team leader does not give someone the right to be bossy or order people around. Skilled leaders will thus know when it is appropriate to adopt other people’s suggestions and will appreciate other people’s contributions.
  • Applicants blame others or look for excuses. Employees in leadership roles who do not take any responsibility for their actions (or mistakes) risk disrupting the balance of their team. Keep a lookout for trustworthy applicants who focus on finding solutions rather than complaining about the problems.

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