Essential Leadership Interview Questions and Answers for 2023

Leadership roles are critical, as companies aim for core skills that are key for shaping organizations' future. Every organization wants to recruit leaders having strategic management skills along with people management skills as prerequisites. Leadership skills are an amalgamation of composure, collaborating qualities, and using experiences from real life to Lead. Therefore, acing leadership interview questions is vital for selection. In this article, we will explain which leadership interview questions and answers are trending, which skills are required, and the parameters companies assess on a candidate for leadership roles.

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As a candidate, one can come across many difficult situations at work. There is no one way of handling difficult situations. Interviewers want to know how diplomatic you are in critical work situations.  
This also suggests if one can perform under pressure or not. Sometimes it is good to pressure the team, and sometimes not. Thus, analytical skills are a must too.  

For instance, “My team and I have worked with many clients. The most difficult decision was to let go of working with one of the high-paying clients despite doing a significant amount of work for them. Their projects were time demanding, but they expanded our portfolio as well. However, our professional parameters and boundaries were pushed/getting challenged and disrespected for a few months. I faced challenges when I was expected to provide free services at the beginning of the project; there were frequent delays in payments, sudden shortening of deadlines near completion timelines creating undue pressure, and I was asked to lower the quality of work to accommodate more work.” 

“I tried to extend my working hours and please this client, maintaining my work ethic, but a time came when I had to decide because, as a team leader and manager, I have to ensure fair work for other clients too. Thus, I informed them about my inability to continue services with them. On discovering my decision, they offered a high pay rate. However, I stuck to my working principle and chose to gracefully part ways. This allowed me to control my work, set a refined work routine, and spend time attracting new clients while growing my work with existing ones.”

How open you are to this kind of senior leadership interview questions will tell the recruiter if you find conflicts as a burden or you are mature to treat them as day to day.  

Firstly, as a leader, it is important to accept that conflicts are healthy, as they provide scope for solution-finding. It is always good to stay calm in a situation of conflict. To understand the gravity of the situation, a one-sided approach should be avoided. Maintaining a harmonious relationship with support departments is mandatory. As a leader, it is important to be aware of day-to-day operations in addition to the team's work and what challenges are affecting them or creating a conflict. This can be understood with the help of the below example.   

For example, “We needed more lead generation, but the team was having payment issues with the publisher. This impacted our deliveries. Being client-facing, it was difficult to contain low delivery Vs. set expectations beyond 2 days. Upon discovering the issue, I gathered the teams and understood the issue. Without wasting time, budgets were approved on exceptions. We also found a resource of authority on the publisher side who was informed that the payment issue would be resolved within 5-6 hours, and they should re-activate our campaigns. This solution worked and got the work back on track. A close tap was kept on any such issues to avoid any repeat in the future.

Talent scout team knows setting goals and following them to fulfillment is usual for a leader. By asking these leadership interview questions for internal candidates a talent team can easily check if you as a leader are able to connect with the team via effective communication or not. 

Leadership styles are many, and there is no one rule. One size fit all doesn’t work for leadership. The aim of having a leader is to have someone who can guide, direct and contain a team and ensure targets are met. Setting the right expectations with the team comes at the top to achieve the targets. A leader must know their team extremely well to operate well. Team members come from different backgrounds; thus, giving work and commitment per their skill set is very tricky for a leader. For achieving targets, the “share and guide” method is suggested.  

One can segregate the task basis the core competencies of the team.  

Next comes sharing project details with the team and setting monthly, weekly, and daily targets. One-on-one daily updates are not practical. Thus, you can allot one member from the team who can coordinate with the team to share work updates at the end of the day. This doesn’t mean leaving the team relying on one team member but ensuring fair opportunities for all team members. Consult the team regularly and try to improve the process wherever and whenever necessary. This way, one can handle day-to-day issues with agility. This allows the team to feel ownership of the task at hand. Also, it allows teams to think outside the box and come up with solutions beforehand. Sometimes internal commitments are not met, as decided, but a learning environment is ensured. Always set early deadlines with the team compared to actual commitment time to face any uncalled situations. 

A leader is a carved-out role and thus demands to enrich the team to achieve organizational and personal goals. Sense of achievement is largely teams’ achievement. By raising this question, the employer wants to capture or know what keeps you focused every day. Can you pick a mentor's role easily. To lead a team, it is necessary that the team feels the work given is purposeful and will help in achieving overall and personal aims.  

The leader must ensure that the team is finishing given organizational targets. To do so, the leader has to wear several hats, like a trainer, facilitator, or simply the communicator informing relevant teams of skill upgrades needed for his team to meet targets. For this, one has to regularly connect with the team and take input on their training and development requirements. Organizational targets and personal targets and interlinked. Leaders should strongly believe in keeping the team well-motivated so they can achieve their personal goals. Broadcast frequently about the initiations taken by the team members for fair rewards and recognition. This includes keeping management updated about team efforts to stand out as a department and showcase strength for larger responsibilities to grow. A team is always addressed by its leader, who must hand down any appreciation to the team to keep them motivated.

There are multiple reasons for team members not to perform. As a leader, it is vital to connect and understand if the team member finds the work difficult due to a lack of skills, interest in the job, or personal reasons. If the team member is facing challenges and lacking skills, the leader needs to be the mentor and guide the member out of the situation. This needs to be done with utmost care not to make the team member feel worthless or contribute less. If the team member is not finding the job interesting. In that case, it is time to discuss a different role or add extended responsibilities to ensure enough challenges keep the team members well-engaged and resourceful. In a personal crisis, the leader must empathize, keep organizational goals and interests in mind, and support the team member.  

For example, “I have been following the team's performance, and it seems you have been facing some issues working for the past two months. You have always been proactive in your approach, and thus, it is important to know the reason for the disarray. I would like to know if there is anything I can help you with and if there is anything you would like to share to improve your performance. Being your manager, I know your capabilities and wish to see you in larger roles. You can discuss anything bothering you so I can help you accordingly.”

This is the least looked for in a leader, but a frequently asked leadership question. Leaders must display strength. However, there can be several factors for a leader failing too. This could happen either when the leader fails to align organizational goals with their team (these can be pondered upon for no repeat) OR factors that can’t be controlled, like resource crunch, market behavior, or time / budget / understanding constraint. With this question, the recruiter wishes to understand if the candidate is overconfident or underconfident. To fail and own, is not easy, and only a versatile candidate can absorb the responsibilities of a fallout.  

The important factor is to absorb the impact of failure as a leader. If the leader imposes the cause of failure on their team members, the team gets demotivated. The right way to deal with it is to take responsibility and set an example in front of the team, growing their trust in you. Organizations know well that it’s always a team effort to achieve the desired goal, and no one should pay the penalty openly. Leadership behavior plays a vital role in addressing failures. A strong leader displays a trustworthy character.

Leadership interview questions are more precarious as you are taken as a solution provider and are presumed as versatile. Strength is one's ability to do or get work done. Mentioning any one greatest strength is not satisfactory. Employers deliberately raise such a question during interviews to test the candidate what strength means to them. Does one consider position as strength to get work done (sometimes even this is not wrong) or being tactful, or networking can also be one's strength. Your leadership style can be defined by knowing what strength means to you and how you use it. 

Sometimes, this question is asked to know what is your passion/calling and how strongly you as a leader pursue it. Relatability, being persuasive, leading and aligning the team with your vision, inspiring them to take your advice, and creating a sense of security can be counted as strengths. But other skills like relationship building, influencer, patience, and quick on feet make the leader versatile.  

You can respond in the following way when asked this question in an interview: “I have been told and appreciated for my communication skills at all the organizations I have worked with. I can communicate effectively in day-to-day work or any critical situation. I can explain project and work requirements more efficiently. I can get the work done within the stipulated time from other departments by setting the right expectations, which are well-informed. I like to create work trackers which are accessible to concerned people. This helps in time management of work as well.” 

You can quote a real-life incident if there is time.

Leaders are not desired to be weak. Employers want the best candidate so if one answers quickly it might  mean you are impatient. If you mention “I don’t have any weakness” then, you might come across as closed who is not open to constructive feedback and criticism. Such a leadership behavior question is to know if you have any weaknesses. 

With a little smartness, this question can be answered very well. Leaders are wanted as assertive but not pushy, aggressive but not bossy, tactful but not overwhelming, managers but not controlling, mentors but not disrespectful, etc. Leaders are supposed to know all, but sometimes delegating work to others/team, which you can do yourself, is to educate and grow to learn. For example - one can safely say delegating work to others which you as a leader can do better, is what you find as your weakness. In answering this, also mention that without delegating work, a leader can lose time management control. Thus, for effective working, a leader must evaluate larger goods.  

Example - “I am aware that people working with me find my working speed slightly paced than needed. I can comprehend faster and have been lucky in sorting most of the issues and conflicts in my work to date. But I understand that as a leader, I can’t work alone if I keep working at my speed of work. I try to use this aspect of mine diplomatically. In situations where I feel a push is needed. And sometimes, I pace myself down to ensure teams and others can learn the work.”

Leaders have to perform sometimes individually and sometimes as a group. As leaders are at the top of the department or the organization, it is evident that the role demands a mixed style. But one can safely answer that they like working in a group as more ideas are presented. The leader eventually can decide to go ahead with one agreed idea after evaluating its righteousness. This helps build a sense of contribution in the team, and here, the leader chooses the right approach; thus, clarity of the vision is developed for the task/project at hand.  

In an interview, you can respond like this- “In my previous company, I was asked to present a new idea (by the delivery team) to increase sales. As the team lead, I converse with the team daily. I could toss a new process without discussing it with the team and present it. But I informed the team about the requirement. This led to sharing of many ideas which were so interesting and innovative. I also decided that two of my team members would present it to management. This grew the team's trust in me, and I realized the abundance of talent in my team, which was showcased in front of management. This was not possible if I worked alone.”

“After the pandemic, a lot has changed. Some companies have opted for a completely remote working style, and some are back to full strength. Some are taking a hybrid approach. In any of the scenarios, staying in touch with the team is critical and should be given priority. Interacting with the team develops smoother communication and lesser fallouts. Depending on the work profile, you can set up a daily/weekly, or monthly sync-up. If you already have team managers or team leaders to delegate work to, then a bi-weekly meeting seems fine to take first-hand account reducing miscommunication but if you are directly heading the team then daily or alternate day sync-up is a good idea. If working remotely, daily morning catch-up with the team ensures work ethics are maintained and followed. Also, when the team achieves a milestone, team meetings make it special with due given and recognized openly prevailing positive work culture.”

For such a leadership question, one has to answer it elegantly. One can either come across as boastful or balanced. So be very thoughtful while answering. Mentioning one or max two qualities of yours that are factful shall be more than necessary. As a leader, you are expected to facilitate and remove obstacles that the team is facing while working. How approachable you are is another key aspect. The team looks up to a leader to connect in times of conflict or personal crisis. If the leader can demonstrate a solution provider with a direct connection with the team it builds team confidence in, you. In case of a work crisis, you can stay on top of the issue and clear any hindrance for the team. However, while tackling a personal crisis, the team member wants you to be more humane and empathetic, making the resource feel secure and supported.  

You can attempt to answer this question in the following way: “There is nothing more fulfilling and rewarding than a team appreciating its leader. Per them, they find a mentor in me who is approachable. I have been lucky and instrumental in handling their crisis whenever it occurred. I try to keep the connection which doesn’t leave them alone in any needful situation. This impacts their work and productivity. But I am a work in progress, and so I try to support them on other matters with similar expectations.”

Why would a potential employer ask such a question? It is simple, they want to know the candidate’s vulnerable side. If one mentions, “being a leader is difficult '', then you might get presented as someone who doesn't take risks and won’t be considered evolved. If one mentions it is not, then this might show overconfidence.  

A beneficial way to answer this question diplomatically is: “To lead is difficult not because of expectations and the requirement of attention to detail. It is not the skills or behavior which is difficult to demonstrate. As a leader, one must stay self-motivated and driven while playing the role alone. Though you work with several teams, the position demands more controlled behavior. A high level of composure and dignity is expected. No one likes a leader who brags, is loud or falls short when needed. Despite the odds, the leader shall remain firm to bring the team together. Complaining, giving up, and grapevine are negative traits and show weakness. Sometimes leaders choose to overcome staying alone by relationship building and establishing frequent communication with the team on a lighter note.

“Mode of communication for a leader is always situation oriented and sometimes intuitive. Email or direct contact, both modes of communication, have their impact in different situations. One should prefer direct communication to eliminate miscommunication. In my opinion, this is best suited for day-to-day work. It is not feasible to write emails on every matter. But emails are the more viable option if a big change or crucial news is to be informed. For example – on taking routine hurdles, the improvements discussed with the team can be verbally informed and followed upon. But if an organization decides to migrate to a new system, it must be informed with all details in an email. The same goes for any leadership change as verbally breaking such a big piece of information should be performed formally. On the contrary, if resources are to be let go, then a personal connection should be made to inform followed by an email.”

“Competition is always good if it is healthy. In order to grow the productivity of the teams, initiate critical thinking in the team, or just motivate teams for smoother functioning with other departments, competition is good. As a leader, proposing a competition demands proper overlooking so that no conflict arises. Sometimes team leaders promote competition with larger differences within or with other teams. Such situations can harm an organization as a negative environment seep in, and work delays occur. At other times, organizations can tap the employees' talents which are not easily discovered.”

“In my opinion, exercising one-sided communication is not a good practice. Open communication comes at a cost, but the most effective way is to allow juniors/team members to raise their disagreements. As a leader, you are responsible for listening and understanding the cause of disagreement. Maybe the directive/decision was not understood completely. If so, simply re-explanation is needed to secure back to work. If not then, understand the probable cause of it and evaluate the change suggested, and make changes in your decision. A leader can be instrumental in creating balance because sometimes unnecessary disagreements cause a waste of time and effort. The focus should remain on achieving defined goals

As a leader, one desires always to do the right and achieve. Two factors play vital to secure this ideal situation. Controlled factors and uncontrolled factors. Controlled factors are when you have resources, technology, time, and budgets to deliver and complete the task. Here analytical skills are needed. Plan and execute is the rule considered mostly. Uncontrolled factors like unseen technical issues, sudden resource loss, etc., are difficult to tackle. Candidates can answer with the help of an example: "While working on a pilot project (which could pave the way for recurring business), I had to prioritize the work between the team and myself. Our most critical resource decided to leave because of getting married and shifting base to another city. This led to a sudden drop in productivity. I had to re-assign her duties to another resource. Despite the new person working up to speed, we still surpassed the deadline date with the client. I had to explain the situation to the client and buy extra time from the client. I utilized the extended deadline fully and meticulously and completed the project.”

For a leadership role, individual growth is an extension of team growth. A Leader has to put the team first before themselves. The best strategy is to be a mentor and regularly check team performance. If the team is on track, as a leader, your goal should be to push them for more and bigger responsibilities. This is in ideal scenarios, but sometimes there are training requirements or the need to upskill by employing certifications or courses like PMP certification.

As a head, coaching and counseling should be a positive skill set. Every team member has different requirement modes and work responsibilities, and as a boss, it's important to use them judiciously. Trying to take a personal interest in their development makes the team/resource feel secure and accountable.  It is motivational for the team to see a devoted boss toward their achievements.

The first step for maintaining a work schedule is giving clear instructions to the team about the project/task and what your expectations are from them. It is critical to inspect that the team meets each deadline with the quality of work maintained. Chart out a plan by outlining a task management process. Every project and task is different. A properly agreed process team might feel lost or unsure of their day-to-day activities. Maintaining a good flow of communication which helps support tasks, is also cardinal. If the progress is slow, counter steps must be taken to bring back the speed on the track. All the process set is to achieve the goals. Thus, project details, setting expectations, outlining the task management process, communication, tracking, and target achievement are the steps that ensure work stays on schedule.

As a leader, one must be open to accepting that you, too, need to improve constantly. Thinking that your leadership style will work in every leadership scenario is over-optimism. Like the team needs sustained learning, so does the boss/head. So, one must be ready to seek and accept any criticism. It might be difficult to ask at first, but it improves over time. Others will help you see what core competencies they value in you and what more is needed. The teams that work under effective leaders are happier, more productive, and more connected to the organization.

This leadership question shows how significantly contributing you are. One can answer it using an example or situation handled. Below is one such given for reference.

Example 1 - In the previous organization, management decided to work up the ranks and positions, and due to this, many managers were given new titles. Many were starting as new leaders but lacked any formal management training. Formal training helps in learning how to create a vision for their peers and how to inspire them to achieve their / organizational goals. Without proper training/s, it is uncomfortable to have productive discussions with the team, even if you have worked with them earlier. I realized the requirement to train these managers on their skills, which they will need to be successful. Therefore, I made a case to the management team on the importance  of training, such as Project Management Courses, as per the need for fresh leadership's impactful work.

Intermediate

A leader might be at top, but they create the foundation for all work which is done in any organization. While answering this question, if you claim to be highly effective in your field, the interviewers are sure to feel you either have done similar kind of work before too or you can be taken up as a visionary.  

“A Project is given after thorough discussions (internal as well as external). Thus, the first level of hygiene is taken care of since strengths and weaknesses are already discussed with the client and internal departments. Strategizing simply means planning effectively. For any project, one has a basic idea about how it will function. For example, if the project is technical, it will start with the product/services team, or if the project is digital, it will start with the marketing team, etc. In any scenario, an operational plan is mandatory, followed by assigning duties/responsibilities, setting internal timelines, tracking, and delivering. For strategic effectiveness, these 6 steps are important, objective setting → Efficiency → Quality → Accuracy → Innovate → complete.”

A leader should work with a focus on the long-term vision and objective. Such strategic leadership interview questions should be explained well with an example, and here, you can talk about your skills and qualities.  

You can talk about your skills and qualities in the following way: “I like to do my work with passion and focus. I am often described as dedicated and someone who can get the best out of all people. Someone who ensures that the team is accountable and responsible for their actions and teamwork is displayed while achieving collective goals. I bring confidence and experience in team handling. I make certain communication is eloquent and effective. I am adaptable to organization, team, and client needs. I carry integrity, clear vision, attentive listening, commitment, and trustworthiness. If given a chance, these skills and qualities will help me work diligently in meeting your role expectations.”

Choosing your employer carefully is of utmost importance if you are already handling a strategic role. Recruiter wants to judge if you can make strategic decisions, have attention to details or have thoughtfulness required in any new or old situation. To match your skill set, one must work for an action-taking, supportive, innovative, open to change, and forward-thinking employer. One must research the organization before applying for the position. This is to understand if your skills and ideas match the future organization to which you want to apply to. Try for a reference check with others in the industry. Once you gather positive feedback, it becomes easy to decide on a selection. An organization’s excellent reputation helps the leader grow as well. You can take the names of talented people at the organization who inspire you. Good research leaves a positive impact on the interviewer as well.

To work on anything, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are needed. The objective of a strategic plan is to ensure all work areas are well worked on and in timely completion. As a leader, a strategic plan should consider sales revenue, net profit, gross margin, lead conversion cost, traffic/orders, retention rate, Customer acquisition cost, customer value, and progress on deadlines. Each factor will help us understand where we are spending more and how to make our spending more effective for max return on investment (ROI).  

You can also give an example about any of the factors above to settle the understanding with the interviewer on strategic leader questions.

When asked this question in an interview, never quote a definite number. It is good to provide a range you would like your salary to fall into. The salary expectations range should not be extensive and random. It should be tight and specific. If you are getting interviewed for a strategic leadership role/position, it means the general market brackets are known to you. Else you can research online at some of the good websites about salary range vs. the experience worked. On being asked, you can say that as per industry standard for the said position, salary should range between X and y. Asking for 50, 60, or more than that hike showcases the greed to earn rather than perform. If the organization already has a high bracket, it will play well for you. But one has to be mindful of what you are quoting, as sometimes this can make or break the interview.

There are several ways in which team performance can be checked. First and foremost is the employee monitoring tool. It could be anything We360 or Zoho, whichever the organization uses. The second is to check in at odd times to check the productivity of the team or resource. The productivity drop happens post lunch and in the evenings; therefore, without disclosing, keep a check. You can also set targets and meet team members individually to know the progress. Targets keep people motivated. Ask the team to make a checklist or activity log they can share with you and fill out daily. This way, they can self-monitor themselves, and you can check the work on and off. Sometimes taking feedback from other team members or teams is a good idea to know if the team member extends complete support. Reward and recognition uplift the mood of the employees; thus, a leader must do that. The final and vital one involves the team members in checking their performance. Sit with them, guide them and keep the connection active with team members to give them direct feedback about their work.

Such questions are asked to know your views about the colleague in question and how well you use interpersonal skills. Showing a strong reaction is not desired from the strategic leader. Maybe a more careful approach and walking the colleague out of it sounds more sensible. You can try to convince the coworker that such actions might impact them professionally and personally. This should be done more sensitively as the colleague might see you as a threat to discovering the leak. But if you keep calm and are suggestive, then convincing is easy. If you don’t see any change in their actions and they continue sharing organizational information outside, you can report it to the relevant department. You can't jeopardize your position by keeping quiet when knowing about the confidential information being shared against work ethics.

Despite joining as a leader in a strategic position, one must understand that bringing changes and connecting with the new teams and people after joining takes a while. The first few days also demonstrate the attitude and how well you get along with new colleagues and management. The first day at the new company is not to demonstrate power and numbers but to know systems, people, and processes, analyze gaps that can be an opportunity to work, and then outline the right way of working, which will not create an immediate dislike for you. Take an interest in learning from others with the company for longer. You can safely say you would like to observe and question whenever necessary. If, while learning, you can contribute, you should raise it and work on it. Start always demands extra time and effort. Thus, you can mention you will spend extra time with efforts to get familiar with all aspects of the new workplace. You can also try creating a 30, 60, or 90 days' work pipeline to measure how you adapt.

Interviewers want to know how you envision the new organization. Mostly it is seen when someone joins a leadership position, and very soon, the team faces many changes in their work. The leaders hire many times old known resources. This creates space and comfort as you have worked with them earlier.  When asked this question, you must avoid stating, “I can change many things.” Interviewers can feel put off by learning you don’t find their current system holistic. A leader should first give time to the current team and find the gaps. Understand you are the new leader because the previous leader was either ineffective or left for some reason. Anyhow, check the functioning and don’t fix matters deliberately to prove a point. In due time you will gauge if the team is ineffective, the previous head did not guide them, they only need direction, or a more skilled person is needed to bring them on track, as targets are to be met without excuse. Interpersonal skills play an important role here. Changes are hard to take, and a leader can avoid confrontation by handling it diplomatically.

Every leadership question is not to know if you are strong, determined, or can achieve targets. Sometimes organizations want to know if you are well-read and keep track of leaders from history as their life lessons inspire you. Maybe, the position demands a person who doesn’t lose their temper easily or, at times, an aggressive resource will cut the curve for the organization. So, if you say you admire the Dalai Lama while applying for a job that needs constant tracking and checking of the field force, you might come across as to cool a head and relaxed for the job. But if you mention that you admire the Dalai Lama for his strong ideals, this might help work for you. Your reply should reflect that you mean it too.

“Grapevine communication at the workplace is common but should not be a regular practice. If, as a leader, I am facing too many off-the-wall stories, I will address and stop them as, eventually, it shows the ineffectiveness of the leader and internal issues. Also, this decreases the team's productivity, who starts to believe in such communication and does not give their 100%. Regular incidents affect a company's reputation as well. Therefore, I will take a few steps to handle it. I will keep my communication with the team transparent. When any information gets exposed without time or leaders' control, it causes miscommunication. Thus, I will make announcements on promotions, changes, etc., with complete reasoning. Secondly, I will ask for the team's opinion often. Making the team feel involved reduces gossip and develops a sense of value. If team members or employees don’t know where to look for information, it only grows grapevine communication. Therefore, I will try my best to provide them with the relevant and necessary true information. Besides, an engaging communication platform helps teams and employees interact and feel part of it.”

Leadership interview questions are designed by HR to cross-check the facts while the interview is in process. Leadership roles are challenging roles. The role is demanding but doesn't always mean a war-like situation. Daily, one can come across any issue that eventually consumes more time than needed or reduces productivity. Answer such team leader qualities interview questions diplomatically. Avoid stating an issue that presents you as incapable. On the contrary, one can recount a challenging situation that pushed you as a leader who provided the solution. You must discuss a real professional challenge and not an arbitrary situation. Don’t only explain what you did to overcome the challenge but also how you did it and the thought process. Emphasize the takeaway you learned.

As a leader, one has to be versatile, but all skills and abilities are not to be used all the time. You will always use a few qualities as a leader as default. When asked this leadership interview question, mention skills that will add character to your profile and present you as mature for the role.  

  • You can choose from the top 5, which are always present in natural leaders.  
    • Good Culture 
    • Innovative environment 
    • Clear and developed organizational structure. 
    • Investment in employees 
    • Upward Mobility 

These are key ones and can be supported with an explanation. As a leader, too, one looks for opportunities that can grow them and allow enough challenges to prove their metal.  

For example - “Work is where one spends most of the day. Earning is important, but one soon gets frustrated about not getting the necessary atmosphere. Thus, l looks for 3 basic factors, i.e., company culture, innovative environment, and open and developed organizational structure. These make me secure enough to work and enjoy my work.” 

What more do the hiring managers want to know by asking such leadership behavioral interview questions and answers? Understand why they asked and what they are looking for. Don’t look wrecked to mention anything abrupt like saving a whale or being an environmentalist. This question is a variation of “Tell me about yourself,” “What makes you unique,” or “Describe yourself.” Mention a strength that doesn’t reflect in your resume, like public speaking or loyalty, or even why you want the job. At least you can share anything personal that reflects your professional experience. One can mention your passion for chess if the job requires intellect.  

For instance, you can say- “I like technology, which is evident from my working experience as I have always tried to work with organizations that offer an open learning culture regarding innovation. I have been working on a few fintech product ideas at a personal level since my college time as a hobby. This leads me to know all the latest requirements and innovations in the field of Fintech. I try to be a value addition by using some of the ideas whenever possible in my current organization to contribute to our services.”

This is a flip question to know why we (as a company) should hire you for a leadership position. One reply can be based on the abilities you have for the position. Another aspect could be how you can help the company grow, especially when you have an elaborated work experience in the same field. Research what is happening in the company and its industry. Has the company diversified or launched a new product/service? In this landscape, you can use your knowledge and experience, which can be useful for the company. If you can contribute some ideas to the new company or create value for the potential company, that can be discussed. Do talk about your ability to fit in the new organization. When asked this question, you can use this as the answer- “I read about the company's latest announcement on diversification in content aggregation. I wish to join the organization because this is the perfect landscape for me to showcase using my experience and contribute to the organization's growth as desired. I am well-networked and can onboard many publishers if given the opportunity.”

Always give this type of leadership interview questions for managers a positive spin. You can either be straightforward, stating you don’t think this is the scenario, or you could mention something harmless. The following examples can guide you in structuring your response for such leadership behavioral interview questions: 

Example 1 - “My colleagues take me as a workaholic. They believed I would take work home on a nightly basis. It is good not to leave it pending, but that is not the case. I like working and completing all my responsibilities and mostly don't need extensions on deadlines. I plan & track my work regularly. There is usually a show to fill in when I put in extra hours or additional work.” 

Example 2 - “I don’t think my colleagues have any misconceptions about it. I like to be respectful, transparent, and direct in my approach. My colleagues generally approach me for advice and guidance. I am objective and open-minded to feedback. This has helped me grow.” 

People have primary and secondary abilities. Sometimes one makes a career out of primary ones and sometimes from secondary ones. Hiring managers want to tap if you are looking for a job change due to frustration, or you really are looking for learning and development and know your calling.  

We can categorize critical thinking, agility, innovation, goal setting & achievement, risk-taking, and accountability as primary abilities. Secondary abilities include behavior, relationship building, priority setting, conflict management, and empathy.  

One can realize that work experience has shaped you for future opportunities even though it seems different from what you have done. Also, like others, leaders need to self-motivate and develop new skills; one can try for a role that is different from current and previous ones. Hiring managers treat breaking the glass ceiling and not doing what you are comfortable doing as a positive trait.  

Example - “When doing anything new, it increases our skill set and attracts more opportunities, making you versatile. With the 2nd organization I worked with, I was responsible for creating marketing campaigns for lead generation on Facebook. I had never done client servicing, including tracking campaign performance and regularly charting a report. Upon discovering resource requirements in the client servicing team, I also needed to learn how to measure and track marketing campaigns created by us. Thus, I showed interest and learned it in no time. Now I have campaign creation as well as good reporting skills. On the job, learning makes learning faster.”

Employers love to ask questions about accomplishments and achievements and expect details or an incident to narrate. Points to keep in mind, pick a recent achievement AND stick to professional achievements despite no mention. S.T.A.R.'s method never goes wrong in answering behavioral leadership questions. Be specific and talk about results. Show your achievement and support why it is significant to you. The conventional way of sharing professional achievement makes the conversation relatable when the emphasis is on solving a matter and achieving the result. Any personal achievement might only fill the question and won’t let employers assess you fully.  

Example - “While working for ABC, I worked in the X department in the X division. The product manager had to go on maternity leave. I checked with my department head if I could contribute as I prepare reports for all consumer products and would like a role extension into sales. I took up the responsibility of all India product sales and worked hard while managing the team. The first month was challenging, but I was on track from the second month onwards. During the festive season, I made a record of the sales. This has been a big achievement that gave me learning as well. I also learned how my head saw my potential and invested in me instead of hiring a new resource.”

When working, we all know what is causing unnecessary stress or in a difficult situation, can you sail through. Recruiters often test candidates to see if they can hold the pressure or if they break easily. 

No one likes to work under stress. Still, we all have seen days, and to get through them, we need to handle them. It is only human to get upset, and mostly you are not ready for it. To handle overwhelming situations, support is required from all team members and sometimes from other departments. So, the scope of the working area grows as per the situation. But no problem can be tackled with anger and impatience. Hasty reactions create more stress; thus, be mindful and take a moment to think about a resolution. While answering this leadership question, recounting an incident can be remarkable in showcasing your skill set.  

Consider this example for an answer: “In the restaurant business, customers are God. They give ratings and promote us in various ways, sometimes when served well. One of the times, we were falling short of delivery men, so I decided to pitch in. Since I had the ride, I told the restaurant manager to hold the floor while I covered the deliveries. I picked a few deliveries and got on. On one of the deliveries, the customer gave the address of sector 40. On reaching the address, I called the customer who ordered because the people staying there informed me about not ordering any food. This stressed me as the customer denied giving the incorrect details and threatened to complain. I calmed them over the call and took the right address. While giving the new address, they realized that instead of sector 49, they had typed sector 40, so food was delayed. Upon reaching, I apologized for the delay and offered coupons as well, as the food got cold due to the delay. Despite customers' mistakes, they felt I handled it better and wrote positive feedback. I felt extremely stressed but managed to handle it eventually by not losing my calm.” 

We all have colleagues who we don’t like. But to become a leader, one doesn't have much of choice. This is one of the employers' most loved leadership questions by employers. To know if anything annoys you despite one mentioning being patient. At the workplace, the focus should only be on how to work to get the work done. People in your team or other departments work towards a collective goal. All in the organization are playing their part and know their work. Thus, even if you don’t get along, it should not impact productivity. Also, open fights at the leadership level attract disrespect. A cohesive environment is favorable. To understand what is important, work or pleasing each other. Being humble and gentle with such colleagues always helps.

For instance, you can say: “While working on a code, I could not fix a bug despite many attempts. As the deadline was close thus, I had to consult a colleague who had temper issues if asked to help. He believed in doing his work to the best of his ability. Knowing his technical skills and deadline, I humbly approached and sought help. Initially, he made me wait but eventually, I was accommodated, and we cracked the fix in no time. I thanked him openly, which he liked a lot.”

Advanced

Consider the following example as a template for answering such scenario-based leadership interview questions. “In one of the earlier organizations, I created a coding error in one of the programs when I used to do coding. The aim was to send insurance claim messages for claims, but inaccurate insurance claim messages were sent. Upon realizing my mistake, I immediately informed all relevant clients apologizing to them and explaining that I was working on correcting this error and that the resolution would be given within a stipulated time. Since I realized the mistake before any client could raise the alarm and had already contacted them thus, a huge issue was not made of it. On the contrary, they appreciated my proactiveness and seriousness in resolving the mistake. I also informed and apologies to my team. While developing services, technical errors happen, but they should not be left unattended for long. So, we all worked extra hours and resolved programming errors. I took great learning from this situation and, going forward, took extra care of proofreading my program code before taking it live.”  

Such leadership questions are tricky as they make one feel uncomfortable. However, the objective is to know if you own the mistakes when they occur and take a solution-oriented approach or not. This must be answered with an example. Be positive in responding as you have managed the issue, and it worked out well. Plus, you now have the experience to handle such situations. You can refer to the below one for reference.

Hiring managers want to discover if you have the skills to resolve a conflict. Vis-a-vis leadership scenario questions and answers, you have to narrate and state an incident if you solved a conflict. Giving anecdotes is a great way to empathize. Other times you can just run down your style. For instance, you can say, “When my colleagues or team members disagree, I prefer to allow them to explain their perspective to me and others. While working for marketing first in the last organization, two of my planners could not decide on the right strategy for a client. The plan needed to be submitted as soon as possible; thus, I intervened and sat with both individually and then collectively, taking a natural approach to the issue. With a diverse perspective shared, they both agreed to it, and we seemed to find common ground to execute clients' campaigns for the best results. Sometimes only communicating well solves matters and brings colleagues together when they realize their ideas are respected by others too.”

As a manager, it is natural to check team members' work. We must reward and recognize the team member's efforts to do something remarkable. But mistakes should not be advertised openly. We all have done them; therefore, a concealed approach with one-on-one chat is suggested.  

You should immediately inform them that such a mistake needs correction. Guide them to acknowledge it to ensure a positive environment and ask them to fix it on priority. If working on the mistake needs support from you as a leader, then don’t hesitate. There will be two outcomes: mistakes will be corrected, and trust will be built in you as a head. Take a direct approach, and don’t blame. State facts and talk about accountability and resolution.

People like to work in comfort most of the time. Changes are difficult to accept. If, as a leader, you have a new idea that demands a considerable change in processes or systems or extra working hours, be patient. Instead of announcing the idea as a mandate, raise it like an opportunity to give the team members some learning. Discuss the idea, like storytelling, for the team to relate to. Show them the benefits and pros and cons related to their work. Explain your idea will break the monotony. People listen if benefits are attached, so be suggestive. You could toss the idea as a competition too. People in a competitive environment perform better. Otherwise, be ready for the opposite outcome and feedback too. If the idea doesn’t bring the desired result, be bigger in taking responsibility for it alone and thank the team for participating.

In a leader's life, there are several situations. Big or small, counseling or talking people out of their discomfort is important for performance. Coaching and mentoring come from a secure place. You will want to give a helping hand if you don’t feel the team member will lead ahead of you. Mentioning an incident is suggested. 

Take a look at this example to understand better- how to respond to such questions in an interview:” “In my previous organization, team meetings never happened. We had many small teams within the delivery team. Upon joining when I realized, I got to know many team members tried to conceal/hide their ideas as a submissive working style was prevailing. To set a practice, I kept our weekly stand-ups as regular. I started to train the calling team myself and got an automatic calling tool implemented for them too. Some callers were afraid to come up front, so a one-on-one approach was taken to mentor them and take them out of their discomfort. I gave weak callers time to role-play which grew their confidence within a month. The one-on-ones were casual chit-chats comforting them to express themselves and their ideas. The team soon shaped up fine, and productivity grew by 15% within a month.”

Leadership is not limited to internal communication with the team and support teams. How leaders interact with customers/clients showcases leadership abilities too. How one should negotiate, defuse tension, and be patient are some important traits needed to handle outside customers/clients. Such questions demand your boss's strategy to solve the issue.  

For instance, “At one of the times, our client constantly changed their project requirement but kept the deadline as the original. When we started, we did please the client with a few requests, but soon this became a norm, and it was pressing for the team to stick to the operating plan. Thus, I called for a meeting with them to discuss the constraints causing delayed delivery. I took data to show the change requests vis-a-vis. the number of hours spent on each request. I told them working with and for them is our top priority but frequent changes demand adjusting original timelines. They realized the matter and saw the working data. Support was extended from their end eventually, and we set a new deadline date mutually.”

Leaders can’t complain or boast. But they can surely use some anecdotes to explain how they handled certain situations, which can inspire juniors. It suggests humility while mentioning the incident, topped with the happiness and learning yielded from the completed task.

“This is about my early working days when I was an executive and was still learning with only nearly one year into working. I used to handle material delivery for Poly headsets. It was an ordinary day when the client raised the order by another 1000 units of headphones requirement. This was a corporate order, and we worked on their current order of 2000 units in 4 sets. Procurement of this particular model takes about 3 weeks, as I was told, and this needed to be delivered within 10 days. The requirement seemed tall, especially when our manager was away due to a personal loss. So I stepped up to the procurement team and checked our procurement process. We were working with 3 major distributors then. I realized I have a college friend working with Ingram handling procurement. I connected with him and narrated the situation. He informed me that a batch of around 5K units for the said model is available at the Thailand office, and if we make an upfront payment, we can receive it in 10 days. We rallied all processes as fast as possible and made it happen. The client sent us an appreciation mail after receiving the complete order.”

Festivity is when people plan their leaves and look forward to meeting their near ones. Professionally also plan many office parties but asking the team to change their plans calls for a lot of criticism.  

You can say, “I worked for an online publisher, and we were seeking a foot in the door with govt campaigns. They are already hard to get, and state elections made it over-critical since the digital footprint was to be tapped as much as possible due to festivity. We got the campaign a day before Diwali at 4 pm. We also had to work on the creatives since the concerned government's creative agency was on leave. It was a catch-22 situation because the campaign was to go live at 10 am on Diwali day. I called the team home as sitting out of the office would not be comfortable. Arranged for food and necessities for their stay while we worked as a team. I got hold of a creative agency connection who worked wonders with GIF creatives. I got it approved at 3 am and, with little rest, took the campaign live at 10 am. Since I was responsible for the delivery, I had to ensure that once live, nothing went wrong. I requested the critical resources to be available on call in case of any falling out. The team left for their homes, and I handled delivery with 3 hourly creative changes. I worked throughout Diwali, which was discovered by the team later, and they still quote my dedication and sensitivity to not leaving them during the festivity.”

Leaders should display a commitment to work ethics. These kinds of leadership questions are to demonstrate your narrative of sticking strong to your integrity. One can recount a previous incident where you had to choose between doing something easily and doing something right.

Example- “In one of the companies at a former employer, I was asked to make up / forge a report which had to be shared with the client. The reporting system was down, and the client was pestering me to share details. He assured me that nothing would happen and no one will know. He also mentioned to shoulder me in case of any consequences. This did not convince me. I informed him that I couldn’t assist in doing something unethical. If the reporting system is glitching, then we must assure the client that we are fixing the issue and will share the report sooner than falsifying it. It was a difficult situation, but I stood firm in my decision. We talked to the client about the technical issue we were facing with a commitment to fix it per the given timeline and share the report. Eventually, it worked, and the matter was sorted.”

Sharing any kind of bad news with the team is to be handled very sensitively as, personally, we all are placed differently at any given time. The interviewer wants to see how mature you are with handling bad news. Therefore, they quoted the bad news in question. Bad news should be given keeping in mind time, situation and person. Your reply will suggest to the employer how sensitive you are considering all three. 

Never share any bad news over an email shocking the team. This also creates negativity about the organization in the market because employees get insecure about their future with the organization. You can quote any example here. 

Look at the following example to understand how to answer this question: “Pandemic affected all industries, companies, and employees, and thus, when our content department decided to go lean, it was devastating news in itself because hardly four people were working in the content syndication team. Two resources were in leadership positions and had to be secured by the management. Thus, it was evident the remaining two mid-level resources needed to be let go. It was difficult as the market was full of such news already, and there was no guarantee of opportunities elsewhere. I took the approach of meeting them personally and explaining the management's decision. They were disheartened and felt fearful upon discovering that they were let go of. I offered them an extended notice period and 2 months' additional salary to secure and support them for as long as possible. I also referred to their profile in my network. Both got the jobs after 3 -4 months with pay cuts, but a few months were difficult due to uncertainty.”

Description

What are the top 5 Skills you Demonstrate as a Leader

There are many kinds of leadership, and everyone's style is different as their situations have been different. But some qualities are seen in all leaders. The top 5 will be Decisiveness, Team player, Critical thinking, Integrity, and must have motivational skills.

Explain two or three skills, so the interviewer knows you understand and have not just searched and blabbered. Decisiveness is the ability to take risks. Leaders take risks and own up to them. They can envision the requirements needed today for a situation that might arise a year later.

So, they take risks and prepare for them beforehand. Similarly, Integrity or truthfulness is a quality. Off any other time, integrity and work ethics mean more than ever. Integrity towards your team and work helps you earn credibility in the system. It is a personal trait, and people take it dearly because it is essential for your overall success. As a motivator, you can ensure that the team works full potential always. Motivated teams are happier teams with higher productivity. To be a great leader, celebrating big-small wins and shaping the team and people who work for you has no alternative. Similarly, you can explain other factors supporting your choice of mandatory skills.  

What is the Interviewer’s Approach While Asking Questions in a Leadership Interview? 

Leadership roles are carved, and the candidate must approach leadership interview questions knowing the expectations attached to skills and experience acquired over the years. An interviewer’s approach is to evaluate a future leader who knows the organization's position in the market, demand from the role, market share, revenue updates, solution approach, and more. Senior team leader interview questions are around critical thinking, behavior, agility, relationship building, priority setting, goal setting & achievement, conflict management, adaptability, innovation & creativity, decision making, and ownership. The closer the skill set matches, the more will be the probability of clearing the interview rounds. The work experience details in the CV/resume should extend when conversing in person. 

How to Prepare for a Leadership Interview

These days, a lot of research is done before a normal interview. For a leadership role interview questions and answers, this goes without saying. But how you shape and structure your response makes a difference. STAR methodology helps respond crisply. If you take the first step towards a leadership role, it is safe to adopt and stick to proven methods. Thus, the STAR method can prove good for a leadership question and answer round. Long replies show time is not important for you as a leader. The STAR method works best for behavioral questions which are situation based. So you can mention a situation, the desired task, actions you took, of course, after analysis, and the result you achieved. Refer to and do detailed research about the organization. Read well and understand the job description for the right expectation setting before the interview.  

You can network with people from the same industry, take feedback about the company, stability, and growth, and prepare accordingly. The go-to qualities for a leadership role are articulate communication, vision, trust, agility, ability to hold in conflicts, take hard decisions, ownership, innovation, solution provider, and accessibility. Therefore, when used in current and previous organizations, one must respond by keeping these qualities in mind. Decision-makers take leadership roles; thus, knowing their background adds brownie points. Practically not all details can be ready, and there is no way for interviews to shape. Therefore, while conversing, be attentive to hearing. You get to know a lot more by hearing when organization or role details are given. If asked about having any queries raise your concerns. 

Job roles

At an organization, a handful only come under the category of Leaders. In most organizations, titles remain the same and similar. However, with changing times, there are a few new titles that have emerged as well. These 9-10 roles only handle big strengths of 1000, 2000, and 5000+ employees. The Bigger the similar conglomerate titles increase as the businesses separate because of diversification.  

  • President 
  • Managing Director 
  • Director 
  • Senior Vice President 
  • Chief Finance Officer 
  • Chief Revenue Officer 
  • Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) 
  • Chief Technology Officer 
  • Chief of Staff are leadership roles.

Top Companies

  • TCS 
  • Infosys  
  • Manipal Technologies  
  • ICICI Bank  
  • HUL  
  • Myntra  
  • Samsung  
  • Amazon  
  • Maruti Suzuki  
  • Nestle 

Tips for Answering Leadership Interview Questions

Preparation is key to any interview. One can make a list of what must be taken care of. Below are some vital points to keep in mind: 

  • Be clear and specific. 
  • Understand leadership qualities and do a role rehearsal. 
  • Practice beforehand for your STAR situation as it indeed will be asked in some form. 
  • Never bad mouth your current organization. This makes your candidature negative. 
  • Don’t waffle. Keep track of time while answering 
  • Keep mindful when mentioning weakness. Try to avoid but if asked about failures, then develop the strategy to redeem yourself. 
  • Keep control of the information you are sharing. 
  • Do research about the future company.  

Doing role-play beforehand is always a good idea. Research makes you less nervous and more confident, to help you ace interview questions and answers for leadership roles.

What to Expect in a Leadership Interview

Realize leadership interviews are not done like walk-ins. Even the hiring manager has to research to find an ideal match close to the requirements. Sometimes reference checks happen before HR schedules your round. If you have worked for long enough in the industry generally, people know about you, or you have worked with them in the past. Therefore, when preparing as a candidate, research the company and if anyone you know is working there already.  

During initial rounds, ice-breaking questions are asked. These are mostly the typical questions an HR manager will ask to lay the foundation of your profile. As you progress into further rounds, you will be asked behavioral or, competency based interview questions and answers leadership and scenario-based questions. for mid-level leaders, sometimes, the candidate is given the assignment to complete and submit. Companies have to gauge you fully before onboarding you. With all types of questions, the single objective is to grow the organization.

Summary

Leadership can be natural or learned. Simply put, prioritizing others before oneself and seeing your growth via them. Leaders take a personal interest in the long-term development of their teams and colleagues. They use tact and social skills to achieve goals in the best possible ways. As per John Maxwell - “A leader is one who knows the ways, goes the ways, and shows the way.”  

Every firm has handpicked leaders. New leadership styles are emerging. Some leaders like Elon Musk demand high commitment levels, but they are leaders because of their vision, and once you align with their farsightedness, you understand why working hard is essential. Some leaders, like Ratan Tata, believe in innovation and growth by doing work with tranquility. They show aggression when only needed.  

A leader is self-motivated, reads a lot, looks for more than one way of working at anything, and is always ready to take anything new up their sleeve daily. Only then interest matures into a passion and then a vision. Leaders have the courage and strength to grow and make others participate in their goals. Conventionally, all organizations work to grow their business, but their leaders decide how they grow.  

What makes leaders effective is often written about, but to tease out what keeps them determined when no one else can see the goal is hard to comprehend. There are endless adjectives for how leaders are, but how they function at any given time comes with experience mostly. 

We mostly associate leads with harsh individuals who force the work out of people. It is ironic. The success of a leader depends on two fundamental factors: people are complex, and people are not machines. And no problem doesn’t have a solution. Leaders can make you feel satisfied when you don’t know what to expect. They are multifaceted. Leadership job interview questions and answers help interviewers test exactly that in their candidates. 

Charles Kingsley said, “Do as you would be done by. But leadership surely showcases more subtlety and perceptiveness than others.” The impression they make and how they influence others shows in the work of others. A leader is expected to bring huge impacts by keeping his dominion small enough to be approachable. Troubleshooting is a synonym for leadership. All kinds and always. Leaders ensure they get you close to every opportunity where you can use every ounce of your potential and energy and grow. 

Leaders are more than just skills and abilities; all can be one. 

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