We all like to think we’re great leaders capable of answering leadership interview questions. However, a lot of work, both in the world of academia and through experience, is required to become a great leader and ace leadership interview questions.
When interviewing for a leadership position, hiring managers and employers are looking for people who won’t hesitate when making difficult decisions and solving problems to get results. To show you’re such a leader, you must be able to masterfully answer some common leadership interview questions.
What Does it Take to Be a Leader?
There’s really no right answer, but a general rule is that team leaders exhibit a few key skills. Overall, leadership styles vary from person to person, and job to job. Below are some skills all leaders possess.
Soft Skills and Hard Skills
You may have heard of soft skills before. These are pretty general skills. Things like good communication, being a team player, and having a knack for organization are superior soft skills.
Contrast these with hard skills, which are highly specific sets of skills. Instead of being more general, these are skills like proficiency with Microsoft Word, speaking a different language, or knowing how to code with Python.
To show your leadership potential in a job interview, you’re going to need a lot of soft skills. The job description will always list a pretty extensive list of soft skills every candidate should have. It usually looks something like:
- Critical thinking
- Good reading and writing skills
- Able to work in a fast-paced environment
- Works well with individual team members
You should always list these and other skills on your resume.
Unfortunately, you probably won’t get a leadership role right out of school. Those who have demonstrated leadership have usually worked their way up from an entry-level position, learning all the soft skills and hard skills needed for their unique roles.
Hiring managers will look over your resume, determining if you have what it takes to be a great leader.
Typical Leadership Questions
Hiring managers often ask candidates some telling behavioral interview questions. These leadership interview questions give hiring managers a better idea of how you would respond in certain situations and make a good leader.
Many of these leadership interview questions follow the adage, “show, don’t tell.” This means you need to bring up concrete examples of your leadership potential, rather than saying you have good communication skills. Anyone can say they’re good at communicating. It’s another thing to use an example to illustrate this to a hiring manager.
Aside from usual interview questions like “tell me about yourself,” or “What are your strengths and weaknesses,” let’s explore some other behavioral interview questions you might hear in a leadership job interview.
How Well Do You Work Under Pressure?
A good leader needs to be able to make difficult decisions and solve problems while under pressure. Your answer to this question communicates whether or not you can perform your duties under fire. This question may hold a little more weight if you are applying for a more fast-paced job.
Some sample answers might be an example from a previous position in which you and your team experienced a sudden setback. A deadline moved up, or someone on your team didn’t deliver. Regardless, you exhibited your soft skills as a team leader and not only achieved your goal, but surpassed expectations.
How Do You Demonstrate Leadership?
This is a question that defines who you are as a leader. Share a situation where you demonstrated leadership that lines up with the company’s objectives.
Think back on a specific example of great leadership. For example, think of a time in which you assisted your team, met your deadline, and made sure everyone was satisfied.
Whichever example from your past you choose to exhibit your leadership potential, ensure that it clearly illustrates why you would be a great fit at the hiring manager’s company.
Tell Me About a Time You Missed a Goal
Like any good interview question, this is multifaceted. Remember the ‘show don’t tell’ approach. The hiring manager is trying to gauge how well you deal with failure. Your answer also exhibits if you know when to admit defeat and cut your losses.
Unfortunately, we all can’t succeed 100 percent of the time. So, how do you turn this negative into a positive? Think of a time you were in a leadership position and set an overly ambitious goal. Things didn’t work out and your team didn’t meet the goal.
A perfect sample answer would explain how failing this ambitious goal served you and your team better. You learned a valuable lesson from not reaching the goal, like how far you can stretch resources and what your capabilities are.
Final Thoughts on Leadership Interview Questions
Now that you know what it takes to keep calm and answer interview questions, there’s no reason you can’t nail that job interview. Remember, you’ll most likely encounter behavioral interview questions that you can answer using specific examples from your past leadership roles.
As long as you keep in mind what soft skills and hard skills you need, tell them about the experiences you’ve had, and exude the confidence of a great leader, you will do just fine.
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