Leadership questions are very common within most interviews these days including interviews for entry level roles, not just management levels, as most companies are looking for people with leadership potential.
A step by step guide on how to answer behavioural leadership interview questions.
Whilst you may have never technically been in a leadership role, you may have experienced opportunities to assume a more leadership role, whether it be at work, internships, university, school, volunteering or extra-curricular activities.
Leadership Interview Questions – What is leadership about?
This is important to think about because companies are looking for a wide variety of leadership skills rather than someone who can just delegate tasks and tell people what to do.
Here are some of the competencies typically considered leadership skills:
- Taking initiative
- Communicating a vision and turning it into a reality
- Guiding and advising others
- Inspiring and motivating others
- Making decisions
- Allowing others to feel and be heard
- Rewarding, incentivising team members for good work
Leadership for senior roles
Demonstrating your leadership ability in senior roles is very important and you will need a variety of examples of how you have done this in the past.
Example: Frequent cross-functional engagement in team with peers, or managers. Regular external engagement with partners, users and/or customers. Positive feedback to reinforce good behaviors and sets a great example for team motivation, staying composed and positive even at pressured times. Aware of different personality types and how they best work together.
For other roles, you may need to be prove your ability to lead and motivate people who don’t report directly to you.
Leadership for junior roles
Companies may ask you leadership questions because they want to hire people who have the potential to step up to this kind of role in future.
In most job interviews, you will be competing against many qualified candidates. To stand out from the rest of the crowd, you can use your leadership skills or your leadership potential. In a competitive job market, it is essential to be more than qualified. To show that you have the ability to grow within the company and become a leader.
Example: Engagement across team with peers and managers. Working naturally and effectively with others. Always motivated in executing own work and offering help to others. Takes feedback well and looks for ways to share constructive feedback with others.
Common behavioural Leadership Interview Questions are:
- Tell me about a time when you demonstrated leadership skills?
- Tell me about a time when you took the lead on a difficult project?
- Tell me about a time when you delegated effectively on a team project?
- Tell me about a successful team project you have lead?
- What incentives have you offered to your team members which were successful?
Remember: Behavioural interview questions require you to demonstrate the skills which the employers are looking for through examples. They generally sound like this. “Tell me about a time where you…” OR “Give me an example of a time where you….”. The skill they are asking you about is clearly stated in the question. To respond, you must do this by following a method which is called the SAO method.
Example of a behavioural leadership question and response using the SAO method
Situation: In my most recent company where I worked within sales, my manager asked me to run a sales campaign to raise the team morale and aim to hit our budget for the month which was important as we had had a couple of bad consecutive months in a row. As you can imagine, the team morale was also low. But I really appreciated the opportunity to assume a leadership position and was very driven to meet this challenge.
Action: I knew that to the motivate the team, I needed to do something different and inspiring. I already understood their frustrations, as I too shared them but I also knew that we had the power to change our reality.
The next day I called a meeting to just talk and share our thoughts and feelings about what had been going wrong for us the last couple of months. Then I put together a very inspiring presentation on how people have managed to change the outcome of their results quickly through a more positive mind frame and energetic approach. I also came up with a couple of new incentives which were not monetary but new that they would appreciate. I could see that my presentation worked and that the team was feeling very motivated and inspired.
I didn’t just leave it there though, I had follow up discussions with the team members every Friday to see how they were feeling and regularly sent around emails to highlight any achievements or sales made by the team.
Outcome: Amazingly we not only achieved but exceeded our budget for that month and the next 2 months after and I was awarded junior sales award for the month. My manager personally congratulated me and told me he would like to fast track me towards receiving a promotion to team leader.
About the example: This example of a response to a behavioural leadership question highlights a variety of excellent leadership traits by an employee who is not technically yet a leader, but has taken advantage of an opportunity to shine within a leadership role. They have demonstrated the ability to take initiative, motivate and inspire others, use awards and incentives, guide, mentor and encourage, allowing others to feel heard and communicating a vision and turning it into a reality.