There are very few jobs as important as roles in leadership within the company, which affect not only the work that the individual has to complete but also those that are working below them. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that you take the time to ask great questions.
Most of the questions will be tailored specifically to the role at your company. But there are some behavioural interview questions that are worthwhile to ask for many different types of leadership positions, especially if you are looking to learn more about the person as an individual leader, and what they feel about their own leadership philosophies.
Leadership Behavioural Interview Questions
• “Tell me about a time you found teamwork difficult.”
To be a good leader, you also need to be a good team player. Hire someone who only ever wants to lead and you’ll be stuck with a one-dimensional employee who may not get along well with others. This question should shed some light on how your candidate views teamwork. Is it a necessary evil? Something they value? An inconvenience they avoid? Their theories on teamwork will tell you a great deal about how they see themselves in the leadership role.
This question should shed some light on how your candidate views teamwork. Is it a necessary evil? Something they value? An inconvenience they avoid? Their theories on teamwork will tell you a great deal about how they see themselves in the leadership role.
• “Tell me about a time you had to delegate a large project. What did you do? What was the outcome?”
Another important trait of a qualified leader is knowing when to hand work off to others. “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself” is something no successful leader has ever said.
Expect a nuanced answer from qualified candidates. They should touch on how they decide whom to assign work to and what kinds of projects they tend to keep a tighter grip on, as well as how they read and analyse talent.
• “Who is someone you’ve coached or mentored into becoming a leader? How did you pick them?”
For roles where training and teaching future leaders are important, you can ask for more information about how they go about teaching leadership to others, or you can change this question to be about how they teach and encourage people to become leaders themselves.
• “When is a time you needed to resolve a conflict at work?”
Depending on their background, “leadership” could mean many different things. For some, it is ruling with an iron fist. For others, it is tailoring how they react to the type of person that they are dealing with. It’s always interesting to see what someone with leadership experience says about how they handle conflict at work, and seeing if there are examples that may tell you more about them as a leader.
• “Tell me about a time you failed as a leader.”
This is a twist on the old mainstay, “What’s your greatest weakness?” Every good leader has had setbacks. What you’re looking for is someone who is honest about theirs, takes responsibility for them, and was able to learn from those experiences. You also want to see what they see as a setback and if they have made mistakes that they were able to overcome and learn from them.
Asking the Right Questions
Talent assessment is challenging. But asking the right questions can make all the difference. Focus your efforts on asking great questions from all of your leadership applicants, and you’ll be able to better spot the talent that comes in for the interview.