Questions About Leadership for Interviews

by Nicole Vulcan

Whether you're a hiring manager tasked with hiring a new leader or you're the leader who's looking for a new job, you're going to face the inevitable questions about leadership. You don't want to ask leading questions or answer with the boilerplate responses that you think the hiring team will want to hear. In either case, do what you can to keep the interview tailored specifically to the job at hand.


Different leaders are ideal for different types of workplaces. Some environments require a leader to inspire and motivate employees in a hands-on manner; others are better with a leader who gives subordinates room to grow on their own. The ideal leader for your workplace will know which type is needed, and will match that style. So, ask the leadership candidate about her ideal leadership style, and why it would be appropriate for your workplace.


Another interview question may involve asking about the interviewee's mentors, or people she admires. This is a twist on the leadership style question, and can give you insight into the kind of leader the candidate aspires to be. This question can be asked in a variety of ways; either asking the candidate to whom she turns to advice -- and why -- or asking the candidate to describe an ideal leader. You also can ask the candidate to compare her leadership style and that of the ideal leader, and whether any of the candidate's strengths or weaknesses make her different from her ideal.


Like it or not, every leader is going to have to deal with conflicts that may include unmotivated employees, employee clashes or hirings and firings. So, another helpful question is to ask a candidate how she will handle conflict. The question may include a real scenario that other leaders have handled, or you can ask the candidate to describe a difficult conflict she's dealt with and how she handled it.


Whether she's a hands-on candidate or not, every leader needs some way to monitor whether employees are being successful. In that vein, another question to ask leadership candidates is how they measure employees' success. She may have a clear process of goal-setting for employees, or may monitor sales in a meticulous manner. They may vary widely from candidate to candidate, but the ideal candidate should have clear examples or ideas.

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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