Leadership Interview Questions

Leadership interview questions focus on exploring and evaluating recognized leadership competencies and behaviors. The questions are designed to assess whether the candidate has both leadership skills and leadership potential.

Conceptual illustration depicting the components of leadership

Management and leadership differ in a number of crucial ways.

  • Management is a hands-on component of leadership - responsible for such functions as planning, organizing and controlling.
  • Effective leadership is the ability to inspire followers to listen to and follow a vision.

11 Essential Leadership
Behavioral Interview Questions

Effective leadership interview questions will require candidates to provide examples of how they have demonstrated common leadership skills and are asked in the format of competency-based or behavioral interview questions

1. How would your staff and colleagues describe your leadership style? Give me an example to support your answer.

The purpose of this question is to find out if the style is congruent with the organizational culture.

The perceptive leader is able to adapt his or her style to fit the follower's, employee's and organizational needs. Find out about the different leadership styles

2. What are the most important values and ethics you demonstrate as a leader? Give me an example of these in practice.

  • Integrity- being truthful and trustworthy and having conviction -  is an essential leadership competency.
  • The effective leader demonstrates values and ethics in personal behavior and integrates these values and ethics into organizational practices and activities.
  • A good leader acts with the courage of his/her convictions.
  • While leaders are open with their employees and model honesty, transparency and fairness, they do not violate confidences or divulge potentially harmful information.

3. Name some situations in which a leader may fail. Tell me about a time when you failed as a leader.

A number of factors can fall outside a leader's control such as: 

  • the available skill pool in the organization
  • time constraints
  • the economic climate

If employees are lethargic and negatively orientated it can create a situation ripe for failure.

In answering strategic leadership interview questions that explore how you deal with difficult challenges, focus on how you were able to analyze the setback and seek honest feedback to learn from failure. How you used the difficult situation to encourage constructive questioning of policies and practices.

Show your ability to be resilient in the face of failure and to constantly work towards improvement.

4. What role does leadership play for a manager? How have you demonstrated this?

The leader's role is: 

  • to communicate the strategic vision with clarity
  • to translate the vision into concrete direction and plans
  • to identify and communicate priorities, short term objectives, timelines, performance measures, clear responsibilities and performance agreements
  • to provide quality judgment and advice

Leadership versus management

5. Tell me about an innovative solution you developed to a non-traditional problem.

Innovation and creativity are key competencies explored in leadership interview questions.  Effective and strategic leaders promote change and innovation.

Finding solutions to unique problems are facilitated by encouraging a constant information flow in all directions and emphasizing responsiveness to changing demands.

Get help with answering questions about creativity and innovation at behavioral interview answers

6. Tell me about a time when the going got really tough. How did you rally the staff and build morale?

Leaders build a sense of common purpose by promoting the organizational vision both internally and externally.

  • they develop and implement effective communication strategies within the organization.
  • they remove barriers to collaboration and provide clear direction on priorities.
  • they give clear and honest feedback to inspire trust

7. What methods have you used to gain commitment from your team?

Leaders gain commitment by influencing and persuading the team to set objectives and buy into the process.

  • they establish a spirit of cooperation and cohesion for goal attainment
  • they take the team into the performing phase as quickly as possible
  • leaders encourage debate and ideas from all stakeholders
  • they inspire a commitment to success and excellence by demonstrating passionate personal commitment
  • they promote a productive culture by valuing individuals and their contributions

8. All leaders have to deal with conflict situations. Describe a recent disagreement you personally had to handle.

Leadership interview questions that explore how you handle conflict are looking at your ability to understand and respect different views.

  • demonstrate your ability to settle dispute by focusing on solving the problem taking into consideration the personalities involved.
  • show how you evaluate the viability of the different dispute resolution mechanisms available and are able to provide support and expertise to other people.
  • demonstrate how you are able to negotiate a compromise

Get help with answering standard interview questions about managing conflict and handling difficult situations

9. How have you persuaded employees to follow your strategic vision for the organization?

This is a typical strategic leadership interview question. Leaders develop ownership by involving employees in the decision-making and planning process.

  • they provide resources to facilitate employee success
  • they empower employees by devolving authority to get things done efficiently.
  • effective leaders develop processes that engage employees in achieving the strategic vision

10. How have you encouraged the learning and development of employees?

Learning happens at every opportunity. Your answer to  leadership interview questions like this should demonstrate that effective leaders develop employees by:

  • mentoring and coaching
  • providing performance feedback on a daily basis
  • leaders act as models for their employees but the most effective leaders not only teach by example, they take a personal interest in the learning of others and serve as mentors
  • leaders manage learning throughout the organization by continually focusing attention on the learning agenda and providing the resources to facilitate it
  • leaders monitor learning by getting regular feedback

11. What was the most significant change you brought about in an organization?

Leaders can recognize new opportunities and anticipate long term opportunities.

  • they determine new business directions for the organization
  • they are able to create enthusiasm and acceptance of the new vision or change and use the appropriate leadership style to inspire and guide employees to embrace change.

Think about what the concept of leadership means to you when preparing for leadership interview questions. Look back over your experiences and select insightful examples of how you have demonstrated the competencies associated with leadership.

Leadership Behavioral Interview Questions part 2

What is leadership?

Leadership interview questions often ask the candidate to provide a definition of leadership. The debate around defining leadership is endless and it is advisable to provide a simple and general definition that is largely agreed on.  You can expand on this as you progress through your interview.

Definition of Leadership text

Strategic leadership interview questions

You will be asked leadership interview questions that explore your ability to:

  • develop a strategic vision for the organization
  • motivate and influence others to achieving the vision
  • use resources effectively and strategically

Interview questions for strategic leadership include:

What are the top 5 skills you demonstrate as a leader?

Strategic leadership includes the ability to innovate and drive an organization or people towards new ideas and directions.

The ability to:

  • persuade and influence
  • demonstrate integrity
  • communicate and motivate
  • innovate and implement strategic vision
  • demonstrate drive and tenacity

are all recognized leadership skills.

Leadership skills in 2023

Focus on your strengths when answering strategic leadership interview questions. Go to the comprehensive list of strengths to help you identify your personal strengths at list of strengths and weaknesses

Leadership interview questions include What are your strengths?

Top 10 Leadership Skills graphic

12 Core Competencies

The Definition of Leadership

How to prepare for a leadership interview

You will be asked some standard interview questions in your leadership interview. Be ready for these and come across as a prepared and confident candidate.


Your strengths and weaknesses?


What are your future goals ?


Your greatest achievement?

Use the excellent advice and guidelines at management job interview questions to help you succeed in your leadership interview.

Leadership interview questions and answers recommended pages


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