6 Questions to Ask Leaders (With Sample Interview Responses)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 11 October 2022 | Published 2 November 2021
Updated 11 October 2022
Published 2 November 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Leadership skills are necessary to many professionals in a variety of careers, as they can help motivate and support your team members. Whether you're applying for a role as a manager or as part of a team, a recruiter may ask questions about your leadership skills to try to understand your leadership style. A great way to develop your leadership skills and interview technique is to ask for advice from other leaders.
In this article, we look at some questions about leadership that you can ask other leaders with some sample responses to help you prepare for your next leadership role.
6 questions to ask leaders with sample answers
If you're preparing to interview for a leadership role or would like to advance in your career, it's helpful to review questions to ask leaders to develop your own leadership skills. Asking other leaders about their leadership skills can be very helpful, as every leader is likely to have a different style and learning about them can help you hone your own managerial skills. The following are some questions about leadership that you may pose to a leader, along with some sample answers to help you if you're preparing for an interview:
1. What do you consider an essential skill for leaders to have?
Asking this question gives you an insight into their leadership style. You can also find out what other leaders look for when they're recruiting for management roles. The leader's response may also give you an opportunity for self-reflection and help you understand your own leadership style.
Example: "Important skills for leaders include teamwork and motivation, but I believe one of the most important skills for a leader to have is communication. Communication skills, such as active listening, empathy and respect, can enable leaders to form strong relationships with their team and promote a positive working positive team environment.
In my previous role as a supervisor, I sought to enhance my communication skills to become a better leader. I attended a workshop on clear professional communication. I used the new skills I acquired to become a more effective speaker and a more efficient manager. I created an open office hour where I invited my team members to come and see me share their thoughts and ideas. This boosted our communication at work significantly and helped my team to achieve their targets. In the first month, our team saw our sales rise by 15%."
2. How do you approach a new task that is outside of your usual responsibilities?
To finish a project, leaders might take on additional roles and responsibilities. Asking this question gives you insight into how successful leaders adapt to change at work. Use their response to think of a specific example of a previous time when you handled additional responsibilities at work and how you may approach this question in an interview.
Example answer: "I approach a new task by first developing a plan, asking questions and applying any feedback I get. In my previous role as manager at Clear Market, a member of my team had to leave all of a sudden while we were in the middle of a project. We were working towards a strict deadline, so I stepped in to carry out the additional tasks to make sure we finished the project on time.
I had experience in graphic design, but my colleague who left was responsible for the website's layout. Though I had never worked with a website layout beforehand, I was confident that I would learn quickly and be able to take on this extra responsibility. I created the first draft. I asked a senior colleague to provide me with feedback. I used this feedback to develop the rest of the layout. By carrying out some research, asking questions and incorporating feedback, I was able to create a website layout that the client loved."
3. Tell me about a personal experience you've had that has made you a better leader.
This question can help you understand more about what makes a successful leader and how their personal experiences have shaped them. Leaders often bring their personality and unique style to the role. Consider how you would respond to this question if asked, how your interests or hobbies have shaped you or perhaps how your experiences have inspired you.
Example answer: "My experience volunteering at the Western Animal Shelter has helped me to develop my leadership skills. During my time there, I built stronger interpersonal skills. At the shelter, I welcomed visitors and gave them a tour of the facility. I also asked them questions to establish which pet would be a good match for them. This experience helped me to improve my confidence in my ability as a leader and I gained skills in empathy and learnt how to better connect with others. This skill helps me to communicate effectively and connect with my colleagues and team members."
4. How do you handle conflicts in your team?
The duties of a leader include resolving any conflict that arises within a team and fostering a positive work environment. Asking a leader about their experience with conflict resolution can help you determine their leadership style. Ask them for a specific example of a time they successfully resolved a conflict and how they dealt with the situation. You can use their response to think about a time when you had to resolve a dispute and use this example the next time you're asked about this in an interview.
Example answer: "I resolve conflicts by promoting open and honest communication and fostering a positive work environment. In my previous role at North West Health, I supervised a team of healthcare professionals. Two members of the team had distinct approaches to patient care. I arranged a time for the three of us to meet and talk about the different approaches. I asked each person to describe their approach and their logic and feelings towards it. I mediated the discussion to ensure it was positive and actionable.
At the end of the discussion, we developed an alternative approach that employed a combination of the techniques from both nurses involved."
5. Tell me about a previous leadership experience you've had that you found challenging.
Leaders often use analytical thinking to create productive solutions for their teams. It can also be reassuring to know that successful leaders also encounter challenges. Asking a leader about challenges they've faced at work gives you insight into their problem-solving skills. Be sure to ask them to elaborate on how they overcame obstacles. It might be helpful to remember their response if you're ever faced with a similar challenge at work or the next time you're asked this question at an interview.
Example answer: "Recently, in my previous role as manager at Wood's Restaurant, I was presented with a challenge in terms of the budget. The restaurant owner requested that I lower our costs by 17% for the next year without compromising the quality of food.
I evaluated our financial statements and examined the numbers. I got in touch with numerous suppliers and was able to negotiate our prices down successfully. I also discovered a new linen supplier which helped us reduce the overall costs by 20%."
6. How do you set goals and track the performance of your team members?
Leaders often set group and individual goals for their teams. Their response to this question can help you understand what other leaders are looking for when hiring and what measurements your supervisor could use to evaluate you. Consider how their response is similar or different to how you set goals for yourself and track results. It's vital that if you're ever asked this question in an interview that you not only give a good answer, but that you're honest and accurately illustrate your leadership style.
Example answer: "In my previous role as manager of Long Road Sales, I supervised a team of 15 sales associates. I would set individual goals at the start of every month. Each team member had individual sales quotas in addition to our team and group targets. I kept track of progress using spreadsheets and sales software. I then shared these with team members every week, which helped to motivate the team. Last year, every team reached their targets and 90% of team members reached their individual goals."
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