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101 Leadership Interview Questions

        posted by , January 11, 2013

Leaders must have the ability to innovate, inspire, motive, plan, strategize and make effective decisions. Most of all leaders need the courage to take risks and assume responsibility for outcomes.

Leadership is a social dynamic — not an easy thing to measure in an interview. Questions should challenge the candidate's creativity, communication skills and adaptability. The following sample questions are a good place to start.

1. Can you name someone who has had a big impact on you as a leader?
2. How did you build your personal reputation?
3. What advice would you give someone who is assuming a leadership position for the first time?
4. What keeps you up at night?
5. What improvements would you like to make regarding your leadership skills?
6. What is your style of leadership?
7. Do you lead from intuition?
8. Are you a risk taker?
9. Why do leaders fail? Can you give me some real world examples?
10. How do you bounce back from failure? Can you give me an example?
11. How do you define leadership success?
12. What is the difference between a leader and a manager?
13. What is the difference between a leader and a follower?
14. How do you develop new leaders in your team?
15. Who was the most difficult person you've dealt with? How did you manage the situation?
16. Tell me about a time when you missed an obvious problem.
17. When your credibility is compromised, how do you restore it?
18. How do you market your ideas?
19. How do you cope with change?
20. How do you define job satisfaction?
21. How do you need to improve?
22. Can you tell me about something you have learned in the past year?
23. Tell me about a time when you were admonished.
24. Can you tell me about a situation where you had to be very flexible?
25. Are you a dreamer or a realist?
26. How do you deal with difficult people?
27. Have you ever done something that you later regretted?
28. What are you most proud of?
29. What impact did you have in your last job?


30. How do you sell ideas to your team?
31. How do you motivate disengaged team members?
32. How do you deal with underperforming team members?
33. Can you describe a time that you led by example?
34. How do you motivate senior, experienced employees?
35. When employees make mistakes — how do you ensure accountability without stifling innovation?
36. How do you ensure that your team is committed to your strategy?
37. How do you resolve conflicts amongst your team members?
38. How do you balance the need to challenge staff but not overwhelm them?


39. How will the world be different in five years?
40. What are the biggest opportunities for [our] business in the next five years?
41. What is the most innovative idea you have ever had? What did you do with it?
42. What is the most significant change you brought about in an organization?
43. How do you empower your people to bring their ideas forward?
44. What are the threats to innovation?
45. How often does innovation succeed?
46. How do you make innovative ideas a reality?
47. How do you separate fads from meaningful trends?
48. To what degree is it possible to predict the future?

Decision Making

49. What was the worst decision you ever made?
50. Tell me about a time when you made an unpopular decision? How did you sell the idea?
51. How do you make difficult decisions?
52. Why do people make bad decisions?
53. How do you reach a decision when you don’t have all the facts?
54. How do you stay ahead of the competition?
55. What are the biggest drivers shaping [our company/industry]?
56. How quickly do you make decisions?

Ability to deliver

57. How do you set priorities?
58. How do you ensure that you do not become a bottleneck for your team? For example, that things run smoothly when you are on vacation?
59. How do you ensure that processes are not overly burdensome and bureaucratic?
60. How do you detect problems before they become serious?
61. Is it better to be persistent in the face of failure or give up and try again?
62. How do you know if your staff are managing projects effectively?
63. How do you know if your staff are managing time effectively?
64. Where is the line between quality and perfectionism?

Team Building

65. What is important to delegate? What should not be delegated?
66. How do you get feedback from your team?
67. How do you keep a pulse on the engagement level of your working level staff?
68. What kind of people do you avoid hiring?
69. How do you recognize staff who have the ability to influence?
70. How do you deal with emotionally charged situations?
71. How do you attract the best talent?
72. What are the best non-monetary ways to retain talent?
73. How do you reward top performers?
74. Is it important to recognize the accomplishments of satisfactory performers?
75. Who have you coached in the past 5 years? Can you give an example of results from your coaching efforts?
76. Do you make friends with your subordinates? What percentage of your team would you consider friends?
77. How do you deal with counter-productive political infighting amongst your staff?
78. What do you do to maintain trust amongst your team?
79. When do you have to be secretive with your staff?
80. What types of decisions do your working level staff make on a weekly basis?
81. How do you evaluate the work of your staff?
82. Can you tell me about a time that you helped someone on your team who was having difficulties?


83. What is your style of negotiation?
84. How do you strengthen your bargaining power before negotiations?


85. How do you feel about office politics?
86. When it comes to office politics — what is out of bounds behavior?
87. Can you tell me about a time you turned an adversary into an ally?
88. How do you build your network?
89. What is your influencing style?


90. If you could change the physics of the universe — what would you change?
91. If you could design a new color — what would it look like?
92. Can you give me a marketing slogan to promote tourism to Germany?
93. What have been some of your most creative ideas?

Critical Thinking

93. What is the biggest mistake that businesses make?
94. How would you improve the design of refrigerators?
95. Why do companies fail to innovate?
96. What is the best designed product in the market today? What is the worst?


97. Aliens visit the Earth and you are sent as an ambassador to make first contact. What would your first three sentences be?
98. Explain a nuclear power station to someone from the past (1 BC).
99. How do you confirm that someone is understanding what you are saying?
100. What is your style of communication when speaking to senior executives? What about working level staff?
101. What is the secret to effective presentations?

This article is part of the ongoing series: how to win your next job.

More interview questions can be found here.

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