Employers want to see job candidates display strong leadership skills.

If you're applying for a leadership role, you'll most likely encounter specific leadership interview questions that gauge if you're a suitable leader.

And even if you're not applying for a role in leadership, you still might face a batch of leadership questions. Whether you're applying for a junior-level role or a C-level role, every company wants to hire someone who is — or has the potential to be — a strong leader.

So how do you best answer leadership questions to show off your skills? Here are some strategies you can use — plus specific examples of leadership interview questions and answers.

How to answer leadership interview questions

Leadership interview questions typically fall under the category of behavioral interview questions. These are questions designed to help interviewers understand how you operate in work-related situations, from dealing with a difficult co-worker to working under a tight deadline.

When you're answering any type of behavioral interview question, including leadership questions, you'll want to use the STAR method to help you craft your answer. This is what the STAR method looks like:

  • Situation: Briefly outline a situation you've faced at work. In this case, you'll want to gather a few specific examples of times your leadership skills really shined. Examples include executing a cross-departmental project or solving a workflow inefficiency.

  • Task: What was the task at hand? What was your assignment? What needed to be accomplished?

  • Action: Explain what steps you took to complete the task. You'll want to be as specific as possible so an employer can understand how you operate and the way you approach work-related matters.

  • Result: Finally, talk about the end result. What was the resolution? How did your efforts help your team? The company? Use numbers and specific details to highlight your success. For example, maybe you helped execute your company's first webinar, which attracted 300 attendees from around the country.

To prepare for leadership interview questions, you'll want to gather a handful of these scenarios and run them through the STAR method. Even if you don't know what specific questions you'll face during your interview, thinking through these will help you prepare for any type of leadership question.

Leadership question examples (with a sample answer)

One of the best ways to really prepare for leadership interview questions is to practice! Start with these popular leadership question examples:

  1. How do you describe your management/leadership style? How would your colleagues describe it?

  2. What's a difficult situation you've faced in a leadership role, and how did you handle it?

  3. How do you use goals to help you become a better leader?

  4. What do you expect from a manager?

  5. How do you track your team's success?

  6. If there's a disagreement on your team, how would you handle it?

  7. How do you handle stressful or high-pressure situations?

  8. When starting with a new team, what are your first steps?

  9. How do you measure your personal performance at work?

  10. Who's been your favorite leader to work with and why?

Again, as you practice answering these questions, use the STAR method to map out your response. This will ensure you include all the necessary information and context to really sell yourself.

So what should a typical answer look like? Let's say an interviewer asks you to share a time you've had to unexpectedly jump in and take on a leadership role. Here's an example of how someone might respond:

In my most recent position as a content writer for a national publication, my editorial team was struggling to keep up with production goals week after week. My editor asked for ideas to help improve our workflow and increase our output. 

I proposed we designate a “story wrangler” on our team. That person would be responsible for ensuring everyone has what they need to hit deadlines and that content doesn't get held up in the production process.

I volunteered to take on the role, and I implemented several strategies, which included leading a 10-minute daily huddle and overseeing content production for our team. After a couple of weeks operating as the leader on this initiative, my team began consistently hitting our targets — and even exceeding them by up to 50% some weeks. 

I believe my ability to step in as a positive force and ensure everyone had the resources they needed to complete their jobs helped us shift our strategy to hit our production goals.

As you can see, in this example, the interviewee explains the situation, outlines the task, talks about the action they took, and finally wraps up their answer with the result. This is also a great example of how you could answer a leadership question even when you're not in a leadership role.

The more you practice answering questions with the STAR method, the better you'll get.

Have a big interview coming up? Let a professional interview coach help you prepare.

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