Career Advice Interview Tips

How To Answer Interview Questions About Leadership

By: Gabby Garland
Apr 15, 2021 • 6 min read

How To Answer Interview Questions About Leadership – Owning The Conversation! 

Interviews are a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate your skills and connect with your potential coworkers via conversation. That being said, we understand that interviews can feel daunting. It helps to be prepared in advance and have some sense of what types of questions you may be asked. Fortunately, this article will outline various ways to prepare for interview questions surrounding leadership. We’ll touch on general tips and then outline how to answer potential questions you may encounter in your interview. First, let’s get into how you can approach these types of interview questions before we begin to look at specifics.

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Do your research before the interview.

Every company and job will require different types of leadership. The type of job you apply for will determine what type of leader is most valued. We recommend spending time researching the types of leadership qualities the job you are applying to is looking for and seeing how your experiences and skills fit. Remember that leadership is a spectrum and that there are many different ways to be a leader.

We suggest looking at the company’s mission statement and the about section to find out their values and investigate the description of your specific job that you are applying to. These two places will have information that helps figure out how leadership manifests itself at the company and in the role you are hoping to be hired for.

Understand what leadership means to you

As touched on above, leadership does not have a singular meaning. You might not be the loudest person in the room, but that does not mean you are not a leader. There are many ways to lead, and most jobs are not looking for one singular type of leader.

It’s important to understand how you’re a leader in your own mind. This might take some reflection and creativity, but there are certain moments and experiences in your life when you’ve had to step up to challenges, motivate others or guide a project. All of these examples are qualities in leadership. It is vital to have a good sense of yourself to answer interview questions about leadership.

Now, let’s jump into some sample interview questions about leadership! 

What does leadership mean to you?

This question is very much tied to how well you know yourself. To prepare yourself for answering this question, take time to reflect on your own leadership experiences. As stated above, it is essential to understand yourself to answer this question adequately. Leadership means different things to everyone.

The most important part of this question is that your answer reflects actions you’ve taken in your life as a leader. We recommend keeping it consistent across these questions. Most likely, you’ll be asked a follow-up question regarding how your actions in leadership positions have reflected what leadership means to you. If leadership means having good communication skills and being disciplined, it is key that your actions reflect these values.

interview questions about leadership

How would you describe your leadership style?

This question will most likely be a follow-up to the one above, which is why consistency is so important. We want to emphasize how being genuine and true to yourself will bolster your answers to these questions. In answering this one, make sure you have concrete examples. Think of specific moments in your life and work where you’ve been in leadership positions and craft a story from these experiences.

Make sure you’re picking experiences that tie into what you’ve explained leadership means to you to keep it consistent. As long as you’re honest and consistent, answering these two questions should go smoothly. Take time to reflect on your experiences and be confident in your abilities.

Describe a time when your leadership was tested? How did you approach this problem and resolve it?

This question is a more specific question than the previous ones. Before your interview, we recommend writing down or simply thinking about scenarios in which this question could be applicable. There might not be any scenarios in which your leadership was tested by others explicitly, but that does not mean you cannot successfully answer this question. The purpose of this question is to see how you adapt to challenges and persevere. What’s most important is to demonstrate your problem-solving and communication skills.

Reflect on times where there have been miscommunications, pushback, or lack of motivation. How have you responded to these challenges? How did you grow from feedback? Spend time reflecting on how challenging moments have shaped or changed your leadership style and what you learned from these experiences. We recommend spending more time focusing on your growth and change than the actual problem itself because that shows your adaptability and orientation towards finding solutions.

interview questions about leadership

What do you think is most important with regards to leadership?

This question focuses on how you prioritize different values. Leadership is a mix of many qualities, but this question asks you to narrow in on what you believe to be the most essential one. We suggest acknowledging that leadership is not solely based on one quality as a premise to answering this question, seeing as this shows that you can recognize there are different ways to lead.

As said before, it is essential to reflect on your values and experiences. Have you found that there’s one quality that has helped you the most with regards to leadership? Why do you think this is the case? Breaking down this general question into more specific ones can help you figure out a cohesive answer that is actually genuine. Of course, it’s important to include an example that will make your answer even more honest and reflective of your skills.

How do you approach delegating tasks?

One of the most general leadership skills that most jobs expect is delegating tasks to your team or coworkers. It’s critical to be prepared to answer this question as it is very likely you will be asked about your delegating skills. While this question specifically asks about delegating tasks, its core asks you to focus on your process. There is a myriad of ways to delegate tasks and organize groups. Think about times when you’ve had to achieve a big goal with a group. Delegating tasks requires problem-solving skills, communication, and teamwork. When were there moments in your career, educational experience, and personal life when you’ve had to employ these skills in a group setting?

Reflect on what went well and why it worked. You can also explain the challenges of delegating tasks and how you managed them. Whenever you bring up difficult experiences, as mentioned above, we suggest that you remain solution-oriented and show how you overcame these teamwork challenges. Furthermore, you can bring in how you would approach delegating tasks in the job environment you’re applying for, as this shows that you are forward-thinking and have already dedicated time to prepare for potential hiring.

interview questions about leadership

How has your leadership style changed over time? If it hasn’t, why do you think that is?

This question is about how you’ve developed and grown over the course of your career journey. Like many other questions, this requires self-reflection and thinking about how your experiences have shaped your perspective, skills, and interactions with the people you have worked with. In approaching how to answer this question, spend time writing down some of your leadership roles and experiences to see how they have developed over time. Take notice of common themes or trends. Was there a moment that made you think differently about how you went about leading a team? What has led you or influenced you to make changes?

If you find that you have not changed drastically or that there weren’t any moments that shifted your leadership style, reflect on why there has been such consistency. Where did you get your sense of what leadership is effective? How have certain people you’ve worked with inspired you or helped you learn to be an effective leader? Understanding what has gone well with regards to your leadership style is just as interesting as knowing your mistakes and challenges. This question offers an excellent opportunity to demonstrate self-awareness and build examples of leadership moments of growth that you’ve encountered in your career and life.

Here are some of our final thoughts on interviews

Now that you have a sense of what types of questions may be asked, you can take the time to prepare for the interview and hopefully have a better understanding of what to expect. It is incredibly key, to be honest, genuine, and have concrete examples of times you’ve led and learned from your leadership roles. Do not be afraid to be creative and unique with your responses.

As discussed above, there are so many different moments that reflect leadership. These moments and experiences do not have to occur within the typical work environment to count. We encourage you to look at any time you have had to work with a team or group as those present leadership opportunities. Maybe you’ve volunteered or played on a sports team or organized an event in your personal life wherein you have had to communicate with others, delegate tasks, problem solve, and much more.

Now, go crush that interview!

As with all interviews, practice beforehand and prepare your responses to know what to expect somewhat. There is no need to memorize answers as that may come across as disingenuous and forced. We encourage you to trust yourself and your experiences. Be confident that you know what skills you bring to the table! Interviews are largely about getting to know you as a person in the context of a work environment.

We hope this blog helped you prepare for interview questions about leadership. Remember that it is a conversation and an opportunity to show your personality in addition to your capabilities. You’ve got this! 

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