11 Leadership Interview Questions to Help You Prepare

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Leadership interview questions tend to inquire about your experience working with a team, resolving conflicts, communicating with others, and motivating people to do their best.

[Featured Image]:  Prospective employee, wearing a white shirt, blue pants, and gray tie, is answering questions about leadership during an interview.

Leadership is a desirable quality that many employers seek in candidates of all levels. It can signal strengths like problem-solving, organization, and effective communication. Whether or not you’re interviewing for a role that requires managing others, highlighting your leadership skills can be a valuable endeavour. 

During an interview, you may receive questions about your leadership abilities, which typically take the form of behavioural interview questions—or questions that allow a potential employer to learn more about you.

What are leadership interview questions?  

You may encounter leadership questions in an interview dedicated to them, or as a handful of questions that arise during some part of your interview process. Even if you’re not applying for a role that requires leading or managing others, you may still be asked to answer questions about your leadership because, as we explained above, leadership is a skill set that can signal valuable traits. 

Leadership interview questions tend to inquire about your experience working with a team, resolving conflicts, communicating with others, and motivating people to do their best. They can be an opportunity to share more about how you collaborate and work with others, make a positive impact, stay organized, meet deadlines, and use important transferable skills.

10 common leadership interview questions 

Below, we’ve collected 10 questions about leadership that you might hear during an interview. To help you practice, we’ve explained what a hiring team likely wants to know in asking you each question, and included several sample answers.  

1. What’s your leadership style?  

There are many different ways to lead a team toward successfully completing a goal, and a hiring team likely wants to hear about yours. In asking this question, your interviewer is trying to determine whether your style will fit in well at the company or whether it could be disruptive. 

Sample answer: My leadership style is flexible because I like to listen to a team, learn about their needs, and adapt my leadership accordingly. I’ve been on teams where a new leader came in and wanted to change things just for the sake of making an impact. But it never went well. Instead, I prefer actively listening to my team and figuring out what works best for them. 

2. What are the most important skills for a leader to have? 

Think about highlighting two or three skills that you believe the strongest leaders exhibit. It helps to pair skills that complement one another. For example, perhaps you want to highlight problem-solving and empathy since those qualities often enhance one another. Whatever you decide, make sure to back up your answer with an explanation. 

3. How do you motivate a team?

Teams will face unique challenges as they work together, especially as work grows increasingly hybrid or remote. A hiring team likely wants to know they can trust you to inspire your team and keep things running smoothly without major oversight or interference. Explain how you’d motivate a team by discussing the tools or processes you’d use to build a rapport with them.  

4. How do you handle conflict on a team?

Conflict can arise at times, whether from interpersonal clashes or external stressors. This question aims to determine how you handle conflict and the strategies you’d implement to resolve it. Discuss a specific example of conflict resolution from your past work experience, or bring up what you would do when faced with that situation. 

Sample answer: I like to begin by encouraging team members to identify a solution together. I want my team to know that I trust them to resolve any problems. But that doesn’t always happen. In that case, I try to meet with team members individually before I pull everyone into a group discussion. Again, I don’t want to hand out a solution, but if I can create a space where both parties feel heard and understood, I find that they can reach an answer with little oversight. 

5. How do you delegate tasks?

It’s essential to know how to distribute work among your team, ensuring that each member has the tasks that suit their strengths or help them grow in valuable ways. Hiring teams often want to hear about the thought process you put into delegating tasks, including how you discover each team member’s particular talents and stay on top of their progress.  

6. How do you encourage employee development?  

Many companies invest in their employees by offering professional development in the hopes that they can foster and retain talent. Leaders can provide a good deal of support for this goal by identifying their team’s strengths—and weaknesses—so they can recommend courses, conferences, or other opportunities to keep growing.

Sample answer: On my current team, our marketing specialist expressed an interest in learning graphic design since she was increasingly responsible for providing feedback on design-related deliverables. I encouraged her to find and enroll in a part-time course to learn the fundamentals of design, and I’ve scheduled monthly check-ins so we can discuss what she’s learning. 

7. How do you deliver feedback? 

Feedback ideally helps an employee develop in positive ways. It can come in many modes: in-person during a meeting, in an email, via a communication app like Slack, or as part of a performance review. Think about how you prefer giving feedback, and note how different situations may call for different approaches. For example, a quick check-in about an ongoing task may be fine on Slack, but larger goal-setting may need to wait until an employee’s annual performance review. 

8. How do you respond to feedback? 

It’s not enough for leaders to provide feedback, they must also be willing to receive it to continue developing professionally. As you craft your response, think about how you appreciate getting feedback, the nature of that feedback (constructive versus negative), and what you need to hear in order to continue growing.  

Sample answer: I value feedback because it’s a meaningful way to learn what’s working—and what isn’t. Currently, I have monthly 1:1s with my supervisor, where we talk about our project’s successes and areas that may be causing problems. I use it as an opportunity to “check-in” about my work so I can keep growing my skill set. 

9. Tell me about a time you had a significant impact on a team or project. 

There are many ways in which leaders make an impact, including delegating tasks, motivating team members, and resolving conflict. Think about a time when you experienced a particular success as a result of your leadership. It could be completing a project ahead of schedule or under budget, helping a team member grow in a significant way, or proactively recognizing a potential problem and working to avoid it.  

10. How do you set priorities as a leader? 

Your ability to understand competing demands and decide how to focus your team’s attention—or your own—can say a lot about the type of leader you’ll be. Hiring teams tend to ask this question to get a sense of your time management and your ability to think critically about a situation. 

Sample answer: I always start by looking at a project’s goals, so I can figure out the most pressing deadlines and work back from there. I also rely on a number of management tools, like Asana or Aha, to keep my team organized about priorities once they’re set.

Tips for answering leadership interview questions

As you practice for your interview, use the tips below to frame your answers. 

Use the STAR Method. Employers often want to hear about your impact when asking questions about leadership. As a formatted response to questions, the STAR method can guide your answers in a way that illustrates outcomes. 

  • Situation: Start by establishing the situation and sharing any important details. 

  • Task: Recount your specific task or responsibility.

  • Action: Describe, step by step, what you did to address the task or responsibility.

  • Result: End with the impact of your actions.

Where possible, align your leadership with the company’s values or mission. During an interview process, take time to research the company’s culture and mission, and identify areas that stand out or interest you. Try to connect at least one or two of your responses to their mission and values, though you should always answer questions honestly.  

Highlight essential leadership skills. As you set about answering interview questions about leadership, try to integrate examples of leadership skills into your responses. These include:  

  • Problem-solving

  • Communication

  • Managing and resolving conflict

  • Negotiating 

  • Accountability 

  • Flexibility 

  • Patience

  • Mentoring

Next steps

Interested in brushing up on your leadership skills? Explore the University of Toronto's Transformational Leadership for Inclusive Innovation, the University of Michigan’s specialization Leading People and Teams, or the University of Illinois’s Strategic Leadership and Management. All are offered entirely online, so you can learn at your own pace.

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