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  3. Be prepared for these leadership interview questions. With answers!
Be prepared for these leadership interview questions. With answers!

Be prepared for these leadership interview questions. With answers!

Artwork by: Alexandra Shevchenko

  • Leadership interview questions: “What is your preferred style of leadership?”
  • What skills do you think an effective leader should have?
  • Can you tell us about a time where you took on a leadership role and made a difference?
  • How do you build trust between team members and get them focused on your long-term goals?
  • Leadership interview questions: “How do you resolve conflicts among team members?”
  • How do you delegate responsibilities between team members?
  • Leadership interview questions and answers: “How do you help team members progress in their careers?”
  • Key takeaways

If you’re applying to a management or team leader position, be ready to answer leadership questions like the ones in this article.

Leadership skills are valuable qualities in almost any job and mandatory when you’re applying to a management role or team-focused career. If you’re invited to a job interview for a leadership-focused position, be ready to answer a boatload of questions about your ability to work well with others and guide groups to accomplish goals.

Whenever possible, prepare for a leadership interview in advance by coming up with thoughtful answers to:

  • Questions about your preferred leadership style

  • Question about key leadership skills

  • Questions about past leadership experience

  • Questions about organizing a team

  • Questions about conflict resolution

  • Questions about delegation

  • Questions about helping employees grow

Leadership interview questions: “What is your preferred style of leadership?”

When job interviewers ask this question, your answers should be honest and based on real-life leadership experience. At the same time, your answer should also reflect your familiarity with other styles of leadership that you can adopt when necessary.

If you’re not sure how to describe your preferred style of leadership, consult the list of popular leadership approaches below and pick the term that best describes how you lead.

  • Autocratic leaders make all the major decisions by themselves with little to no consultation from their subordinates.

  • Democratic leaders delegate responsibilities to specific employees and make decisions after consulting the collective opinions of their team.

  • Laissez-faire leaders provide team members with tools, information, resources, and objectives, then sit back and let them self-organize and complete tasks on their own.

  • Transformational leaders focus heavily on mentorship, encouraging team members to continuously refine their work, push their limits and tackle new, more challenging tasks.

  • Transactional leaders motivate their team by giving them concrete projects to complete and offering bonus rewards to team members who exceed expectations.

  • Bureaucratic leaders enforce a strict and clear set of rules and regulations regarding what team members are and aren’t allowed to do.

In modern business culture, autocratic and laissez-faire styles of leadership are generally seen as ineffective (the first style is too controlling, the second not controlling enough). 

The other styles of leadership are more likely to fit the culture of the company you’re interviewing for. Transformational leadership, for instance, works best in businesses built around rapid growth and innovation, while democratic leadership is a good match for creativity-focused workplaces.

Statistical Insight

Recent statistics from FounderJar highlight just how vital reliable leadership is for the success of a company and the satisfaction of its workforce. 

Managers who get good leadership training are up to 88% more productive than those who don’t, yet only 5% of businesses have leadership development plans. What’s more, only 1 in 5 employees feel their business manager helps them grow to their potential, and approximately 35% of a 2000-person survey said their boss is their main source of workplace stress.

Your true, preferred style of leadership may not fit perfectly into any of the categories listed above. If so, explain to job interviewers how you blended different leadership methods together in your previous careers, emphasizing your ability to switch up your leadership style based on company needs.

What skills do you think an effective leader should have?

There are many right ways to answer this interview question and just as many ways to get it wrong.

Ideally, the leadership or interpersonal job skills you discuss should match the skills requested on the job opening’s online profile. You should never lie or pretend to have skills you lack; most of the time, you won’t ever have to lie. After all, the question “What skills should an effective leader have?” asks about skills that matter to you and not skills you necessarily possess.

Do discuss these leadership skills

Don't discuss these leadership skills



Offering useful feedback

Problem solving

Actively listening

Acknowledging and rewarding employee efforts

Creating incentives for employees to excel


Decisiveness and conviction

Long-term planning

Establishing concrete goals


The ability to shout louder than your employees

A willingness to punish or fire employees for failure

Always seeking to please everyone

A knack for avoiding confrontation

A talent for procrastination

A tendency to demand results from team members without explaining why or how

After identifying a few really important leadership skills, explain to your interviewers why you think these skills matter. Talk about what these skills help leaders accomplish and cite incidents in your past where you or a colleague led a team to success with said skills.

Can you tell us about a time where you took on a leadership role and made a difference?

This leadership question can be really tricky to answer during job interviews, particularly if you have trouble remembering specific events from your past careers. To avoid awkward moments where you can’t think of anything to say to the hiring manager, try to prepare answers to these sorts of questions before the interview. 

Write out everything you can recall about moments where you took charge in the workplace. Describe events where you accomplished something impressive or steered your workplace away from disaster. You don’t have to describe every single detail or social interaction from this past event, just the highlights of the challenge you faced and how you overcame it.

Expert Tip

If you’re really having trouble remembering a moment in your past careers whether you led a team decisively and effectively, you can always try to call or message an old workplace associate. With luck, your associate will remember leadership moments that you forgot and might even offer objective opinions about why you were a good leader.

(Reaching out to old workplace associates is also just a good practice in general. It builds your professional network and may even give you the chance to recruit or be a personal reference for job applications.)

Specific examples of good leadership moments you can cite include:

  • Completing a project ahead of schedule

  • Completing a project under-budget

  • Improving a team’s productivity or efficiency

  • Strengthening a team’s ability to coordinate and communicate

  • Helping an employee grow and unlock their potential

  • Supporting a team member overwhelmed by excess work

  • Supporting a team member overwhelmed by a hostile customer/client

How do you build trust between team members and get them focused on your long-term goals?

To answer this question, first describe how your leadership style helps you motivate a team and coordinate their efforts. 

Transactional leaders, for instance, incentivize their employees to excel by offering rewards for reaching or surpassing clearly defined milestones. Democratic leaders, in contrast, focus on building a sense of solidarity among their team members and letting them participate in administrative decisions that affect them directly.

After discussing your big-picture leadership methods, get more specific. Talk about niche team-building activities you used in past careers to great effect. The trust-building approaches you mention may or may not match the methods listed below.

  • Ice-breaker activities where everyone takes turns sharing details about themselves

  • One-on-one meetings with team members to discuss their responsibilities and goals

  • Praising team members for their accomplishments in public and criticizing them in private

  • Encouraging a dynamic of group transparency where you and members of your team are free to share ideas, express concerns, and ask for help

  • Moderating team meetings so that each member gets a chance to share their thoughts

  • Being honest and never withholding information team members need to make informed decisions

Leadership interview questions: “How do you resolve conflicts among team members?”

Even in the best workplace environments filled with passionate professionals pursuing interesting work, team members can still disagree with each other. If allowed to escalate, these disagreements can tear workplaces apart, cause productivity to plummet, and even ruin once-strong friendships. 

Because of this, job recruiters interviewing for leadership positions are always on the look-out for great, knowledgeable manager applicants who can end these disagreements before they fester. Prove that you can resolve team conflicts, and you’ll shoot to the top of their candidate list.

As with other job interview questions, try to answer how you resolve conflicts among team members by citing actual past experiences from your old careers. Name the reasons why two or more team members came into conflict, then discuss the ways that you (or another leader) resolved this catalyst of discord.


Sample Causes of Team Conflict:

Team members lash out at each other due to stress.

Team members can’t agree on how to solve a problem or complete a task.

A team member finds a colleague’s attitude unpleasant.

A team member feels that their colleague isn’t pulling their weight.

A team member feels they’ve been saddled with too much work.

A team member feels that they’re not being listened to.

A team member feels that they’re being sidelined or bullied.

Sample Conflict Resolution Strategies:

Meeting with each conflicting team member privately and hearing their side of the story.

Mediating a group discussion between conflicting team members.

Expressing empathy for the stress each team member is feeling (while not favoring one party over the other).

Suggesting a compromise based on the goals or ideals each team member shares. Be honest with your job interviewer about how those past conflicts were resolved. It’s a fine thing to share stories about how you brokered a good compromise and inspired team members to overcome their differences. 

It’s also worth telling job interviewers about team conflicts that couldn’t be neatly resolved. If you were forced to fire or transfer a team member that wasn’t acting in good faith, for instance, job interviewers will see that you have the mettle to make decisive choices. 

How do you delegate responsibilities between team members?

When a job interviewer asks how you delegate responsibilities between members of a team, there are several leadership skills you can choose to highlight as part of your answer.

The first and perhaps most important skill is figuring out what you should delegate and how to prioritize work. During your job interview, talk about how you identify tasks that can only be completed by you and tell them apart from tasks that you can trust to others.

(Most of the time, you should personally tackle tasks related to long-term strategic planning.)

Next, talk about how you choose certain team members to accomplish certain tasks. Discuss the difference between responsibilities that can be handled by anyone with detailed instructions and tasks that must be handled by those with special skills.

Finally, explain how you communicate with your team members and keep updated on their progress with the tasks you delegated. Talk about the management software you’ve used in past careers, the project deadlines you establish, and how your team members are expected to update you on their progress.

Leadership interview questions and answers: “How do you help team members progress in their careers?”

During job interviewers for leadership positions, hiring managers may ask questions about how you help your staff develop over time. There’s several ways you can answer such questions.

First, you can talk about ways you help employees refine their strengths and surpass their weaknesses. Explain how you constructively critique a staff member's performance, inspire them to refine their work, and give them concrete goals to pursue.

Alternately, you can describe ways that you help your team members work towards their long-term goals and overcome career stagnation. This can involve writing letters of recommendation, telling them about new promotion opportunities within the company, or even teaching them key leadership skills that will serve them well in more advanced management positions.

Key takeaways

  1. Be ready to answer information questions about your preferred leadership style.

  2. Prepare examples of leadership skills you feel are valuable.

  3. Cite past career moments where you excelled as a leader.

  4. Pre-write explanations of how you build trust and cohesion among the teams you lead.

  5. List your preferred approaches for resolving inter-team conflict.

  6. Be ready to describe how you delegate responsibility among the teams you lead.

  7. Talk about how you help your staff to grow and develop.

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