Questions and Answers in an Interview to Assess Leadership

Leadership QualityIf you are interviewing for a management level job, you are likely to be asked specific job interview questions that assess your leadership.

An employer needs to trust you with the people they rely on to deliver results. So you need to deliver answers that show you are trustworthy, ambitious and decisive. Further your answers must demonstrate you effectively manage. Here are interview five questions and answers you may be asked for leadership positions.

Just a quick note on any stock answers you see to interview questions. These answers are a great place to start, but you need to make sure that they are both applicable and authentic to you. If they aren’t, rework these responses to something that fits you better. Especially in leadership interviews, a hiring manager wants to see the real you.

How would you define teamwork? (What does cooperation mean to you?)

An employer asking this question wants to know whether you are completely selfish or actually like working in teams. They are trying to ask you, “are you good at working in teams; do you play nice with others and take instructions well.” So your response should demonstrate that you do play nice and respect your boss. “Teamwork is leveraging the different talents of a group of people to efficiently get the job done. Teamwork also means taking time to support other members of the team to make sure everyone and the project are successful.”

Feel free to add to your answer a story about a team you led performing well.

Your job involves some long-term projects and day-to-day unpredictable events in a fast-paced environment. How would you manage this?

"I keep on top of my long-term projects by setting internal deadlines and benchmarks. So if something urgent comes up, I will address it, and then put in the time necessary to make sure that the long-term projects hit these benchmarks and stay on schedule.” Being a manager and leader means knowing how manage these trade-offs appropriately.  Expect similar questions related to how you manage projects and deadlines.

When do you expect a promotion?

This is a strange question, one that can come from an interviewer who may feel threatened by new blood in the leadership pool. Make sure you sound supportive in your answer.

“I’m not sure I have a definitive answer for you. Within any position, I expect to be given new and sometimes greater responsibilities as I successfully complete the projects that are given to me. At some point, my past track record of performance will suggest that I am ready for greater responsibility than my current title allows. I hope at that point, when an opportunity for promotion arises, that my manager will support my candidacy for the position.”

How do you make decisions?

This question is less about you as an individual and more about you being a good employee. “Well, obviously for any major decisions I would want to discuss with my boss and determine if there is protocol or policy that I should apply. That considered, in making decisions I rationally evaluate the different potential options and pros and cons of each choice. Whenever possible, I seek input from others who have been in a similar position or who would be impacted by the decision. What kind of decisions would I be expected to make in this position?”

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How do you motivate other people to perform?

“It depends a lot on the individual. Some are more responsive to praise than others. Some need more of a push. In general, I create an environment where individuals feel respected for their ability to contribute but are also expected to perform to a high standard. I do my best to support my team and make them feel that they have the tools and freedom to do their best work. But I’m also not afraid to call aside individuals who are underperforming and let them know that I expect more from them.”

The interview questions and answers to assess leadership included here are just a sample of what you might actually be asked. Still, the reasons other questions are asked will be the same as for the questions you see above.

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