Questions to Ask When Interviewing Leaders

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Interviewing candidates for a leadership role is aimed at gaining a larger understanding of the candidate’s experience and skills. You’re trying to figure out if the candidate’s qualifications match the job description and the expectations required by the leadership team.

Learn the components of great questions to ask a candidate during an interview for a leadership role, five interviewing tactics you can use, the main questions you can ask and frequently asked questions by interviewers. 

 

Read more: How to Find Good Employees

 

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Components of great questions to ask a leader

You can define leadership interview questions as ones that gauge the leadership style of the candidate. You should know about what types of experience they encountered to formulate their belief system around leadership.

 

Three components to asking good questions during an interview include: 

 

    • Making sure they’re open-ended: The questions you ask the interviewer should elicit an elaborate response from the candidate. Even though you’re going to be focused more on the quality of the content, an open-ended response can allow them to explain their rationale behind a decision they made in their career. 

 

    • Asking about their career accomplishments: Questions about a career accomplishment give the employee time to reflect on how it’s a milestone. Their answer can demonstrate how it affected their company at the time they accomplished it. Overall, career accomplishments can show how they can achieve this kind of success with your company while describing the skills they used to make them eligible for the position. 

 

  • Seeking their motivations to lead at your company: You want to know why a candidate applied for a leadership role at your company. Be sure to be candid when asking this type of question, so they can answer it directly. If they exhibit excitement about the responsibilities and the company culture, then this is a positive sign. 

Read more: Best Interview Questions to ask Candidates

 

Five interviewing tactics

You can select a multitude of tactics to have a successful interview with a candidate. Five tactics that you can employ to find the right leader include: 

 

  1. Describing how they give feedback
  2. Asking about how they communicate with employees
  3. Seeing how they delegate responsibility 
  4. Discussing their ability to build relationships
  5. Identifying the problems they’ve solved in the workplace

 

1. Describing how they give feedback

Identifying a candidate’s motivations for working in their previous position can depend on how they gave feedback to employees working in their department. Check to see how they rewarded employees and the methods they used to give constructive feedback. 

 

2. Asking about how they communicate with employees

If the candidate needed help from their team, they should expand on the feedback they received from their team to accomplish their goals. For example, if the candidate held a project manager position, they could have received ideas about how to streamline the workflow for tasks to assist in finishing projects promptly. 

 

3. Seeing how they delegate responsibility 

A candidate in a previous leadership role should render extensive details on how they delegated tasks to their team. Look for a response associated with the application of each employee’s strengths and weaknesses to see who could perform essential tasks. 

 

4. Discussing their ability to build relationships

Teams working within a company usually have a strong bond that helps them stay focused on their goals. Ask the candidate how they kept their team together in times of adversity while staying in compliance with company policy. 

 

5. Identifying the problems they’ve solved in the workplace

Successful leaders know how to solve problems when they arise. Discuss the types of problems they’ve solved and the actions they took to lead to a resolution. You may get a glimpse of specific skills that apply to this role such as communication, customer service and decision-making.

 

The bottom line for questions to ask leaders

Review the specific questions you can ask during an interview for a leadership position: 

 

  • Describe the outcome of a project that you led. How did you feel about it afterward? 
  • How do you characterize your leadership style? 
  • In what ways have you improved your current role over the past three years? 
  • Can you discuss how you would handle the departure of an employee and if it changes your leadership style? 
  • What do you believe the best way to monitor the performance of employees? 

Describe the outcome of a project that you led. How did you feel about afterward? 

This is another way that you can ask about a candidate’s best accomplishment. They need to contextualize their mindset to see how they can use this experience at the company to increase their team’s performance. 

 

How do you characterize your leadership style? 

You’re framing this question to get their thought-process behind working with others. Their response can give you clues about the way approach tasks they’re working on. 

 

In what ways have you improved your current role over the past three years? 

The candidate needs to go into depth about the metrics they earned during their tenure with their current company. If they increased the execution of projects by 15%, they’ll need to state how they improved their skills in addition to the company. 

 

Can you discuss how you would handle the departure of an employee and if it changes your leadership style? 

The candidate must purpose a solution using their behavioral and problem-solving skills. The quality and depth of their response are telling of how they plan to address problems when they occur. 

 

What do you believe the best way to monitor the performance of employees? 

See if the candidate details the way their current company evaluates the performance and if they believe this system can be improved for this role. You may want to note this insight if you move ahead with another candidate. 

 

Leadership FAQs

Check out the frequently asked questions when interviewing candidates for a leadership role: 

 

How can I ask good questions during a leadership interview? 

You should aim to learn about the candidate’s qualifications and their aspirations to get the best answers. This way, you’ll know why they want to work for your organization. 

 

What tactics should I use to elicit a quality response from the candidate? 

Make sure you ask open-ended questions, so they provide context on their responses. Focus on behavior-based questions to see how they can work with employees alongside them. 

 

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