Leadership interview questions and answers

Leadership interview questions and answers
SEEK content teamupdated on 29 February, 2024

Stepping into a leadership role is a significant milestone in anyone’s career. As you might expect, job interview questions for leadership roles are aimed at assessing your management abilities – being prepared is a must.

Job interviews for leadership roles require you to go beyond demonstrating expertise in your field. They’re about showcasing the ability to inspire, guide and make critical decisions. Whichever side of the desk you’re on, knowing strategic interview questions – and the best answers to them – is important. 

Being well-prepared is more than rehearsing answers. It involves a deep understanding of the role’s responsibilities and the culture of the organisation. It’s about demonstrating your leadership skills through examples and stories, and showing off your problem-solving abilities and capacity to motivate others. In this article, we’ll explore a range of questions that are commonly asked in leadership interviews, providing you with insights and strategies to deliver authentic and impactful responses.

What are leadership interview questions?  

Leadership interview questions probe your ability to lead, manage and make decisions. Unlike standard job interviews that focus more on technical skills and experience, leadership interviews look at how you manage teams, drive projects and represent an organisation. These questions uncover not just what you know, but how you think, react and lead in various situations.

What do these questions cover?

These questions look at a range of skills and qualities essential for leadership such as:

Interviewers often use behavioural and situational questions to understand how you have handled past experiences and how you might approach future challenges. These interviews go beyond assessing technical expertise, and focus on your vision, decision-making process and potential to drive positive change within the organisation. 

How to prepare for your leadership interview

Thorough preparation for a leadership interview is essential. You should turn up ready to provide examples of past successes (and failures). Show how your experience aligns with the specific needs of the role. It also helps to be able to anticipate questions by practising clear, concise and impactful responses. This not only boosts confidence but also increases the chances of making a lasting positive impression on the interviewers.

Key elements of interviews for leadership roles

Interviews for leadership roles aim to evaluate a person’s suitability for a high-responsibility position. These interviews revolve around elements that are crucial in identifying strong leaders. Recognising these themes helps you anticipate the types of questions you might face and prepare responses to them.

Behavioural-based questions

Behavioural questions are a staple in leadership interviews. Each one aims to take a look at how you have handled real-life situations in the past. Interviewers are interested in specific examples that demonstrate key leadership qualities such as problem solving, team building and conflict management. Responses to these questions should follow the STAR (situation, task, action, result) format and offer a clear and comprehensive answer.

Situational questions

Situational questions are hypothetical scenarios that you might face in a leadership role. These questions assess your critical thinking, decision-making and adaptability. They offer insight into how you:

  • might handle future challenges, 
  • manage unexpected situations, and 
  • apply your skills in a practical context. 

Strategic thinking questions

Strategic thinking questions evaluate your ability to plan and implement long-term goals, looking at how you set visions and align team efforts with organisational objectives. Be prepared to discuss your experiences with strategic planning, goal setting and the outcomes of those strategies.

Team management questions

Team management questions focus on your ability to lead, motivate and develop a team. These questions assess skills in areas such as delegation, communication, team building and performance management. You should be ready to share examples of how you have successfully managed teams in the past.

Common interview questions for a leadership role

When preparing for a leadership role interview, it's important to anticipate the types of questions you might be asked. These questions will look at your leadership skills and experience while also assessing how well you understand the challenges and responsibilities of a leadership position. 

While it’s important to prepare your own responses, you also need to come up with your own questions to ask senior management. This shows your strategic thinking and engagement with the role and the organisation.

Consider asking:

  • What are the key challenges currently facing the team or organisation?
  • What are some specific short- and long-term goals of the team/department I would be leading?
  • Can you describe the company's leadership culture?

These questions provide valuable insights for you into the organisation, and also demonstrate your strategic thinking and genuine interest in the role. By preparing for these questions and thinking of questions to ask in return, you position yourself as a thoughtful and engaged leadership candidate.

Now it’s time to prepare some answers for questions you might be asked in interviews, looking at key themes that often crop up.

Behaviour-based questions

Behavioural questions are a key component of leadership interviews. They focus on past experiences and actions, to get an idea of how you might perform in the future. These questions require you to reflect on previous leadership experiences and show how you navigated different challenges. Here are some sample questions along with suggested answers to help you prepare.

“What’s your leadership style?”

My leadership style is mainly transformational. I believe in inspiring and motivating my team through having a clear vision and providing support. I focus on identifying and developing individual strengths within my team, encouraging continuous improvement. This approach drives results and helps build a cohesive team.

“What are the most important skills for a leader to have?”

In my view, the most important skills for a leader are communication, emotional intelligence and strategic thinking. Communication is central to supporting team members and completing projects successfully, while emotional intelligence helps when it comes to managing team dynamics. Strategic thinking is essential for making decisions that benefit my team and the whole organisation in the long term.

“How do you motivate your team during a period of low morale?”

During times of low morale, I focus on open communication and empathy. I start by acknowledging the challenges and expressing an understanding of the team's feelings. Then, I work with the team to collaboratively develop solutions. I also make sure to celebrate small wins and provide positive reinforcement to rebuild confidence and motivation.

“Describe a specific instance where you had to lead a team through a challenging project. What was the outcome and what did you learn?” 

In my previous role, I led a team through a high-stakes project with a tight deadline. We faced unexpected setbacks, which required quick thinking and adaptability. I maintained open lines of communication, re-assigned tasks based on team members’ strengths, and provided additional support where needed. Despite the challenges, we delivered the project on time and above expectations. This experience taught me the importance of flexibility, clear communication and using the strengths of team members.

“What are your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to leading a team?” 

One of my strengths is my ability to communicate a clear vision and motivate my team towards achieving it. I'm also good at conflict resolution, ensuring that any disagreements are handled constructively. As for weaknesses, I've sometimes struggled with delegation, tending to take on too much myself. However, I'm actively working on this by trusting my team more and focusing on developing their skills to handle more complex tasks.

Situational leadership scenarios

Situational questions are designed to assess your problem-solving and decision-making skills in hypothetical scenarios. These questions help interviewers understand how you might react in real-world situations, especially under pressure or when unexpected challenges arise. Here are some situational questions along with sample answers to guide you.

“How would you handle a situation where there is a sudden change in project requirements and your team needs to adapt quickly?”

My first step would be to gather all relevant information about the change in requirements and assess the impact on the project timeline and resources. I would then share these changes with the team, ensuring that everyone understands the new direction. Next, I would collaborate with the team to re-strategise and re-prioritise tasks.

“Describe a scenario where you had to mediate a conflict among team members. How did you resolve it?”

In a previous role, two team members disagreed with the approach to a project task. To resolve the conflict, I first met with each one separately to understand their perspective. I then facilitated a joint meeting where both parties could express their views. I emphasised the importance of mutual respect and finding a solution that aligned with the team's goals. Through guided discussion, we found a compromise that incorporated both of their ideas.

Strategic thinking and vision

Questions about strategic thinking and vision assess your ability to plan in the long term, think to the future, and align team efforts with the broader organisational strategy. These questions help interviewers understand how you think about growth, change and innovation. Here are some sample questions with answers to guide you.

“How do you set priorities as a leader?”

I believe that setting priorities involves a balance between short-term needs and long-term goals. I look at the most urgent priorities for the team, then take a step back and look at the bigger picture, to align our work with the company’s overall mission. Then, I involve my team in sorting our weekly and daily priorities to ensure we are working towards the same goals. 

“Can you share an example of a successful strategic initiative you spearheaded in your previous role?”

In my previous role, I led a strategic initiative to increase market share by entering a new segment. This involved extensive market research, re-aligning our product development and re-strategising our marketing approach. I collaborated with different departments to ensure a cohesive effort. The initiative was a success, resulting in a 20% increase in market share within a year and a significant boost in brand recognition.

“How do you envision the future of your department or team in the next five years?” 

In the next five years, I envision my department not only excelling in our current roles but also expanding. This includes adopting new technologies to enhance efficiency, upskilling to meet future challenges, and contributing more significantly to the company's strategic goals. I plan to encourage a culture of continuous learning and innovation, ensuring that we stay ahead of industry trends and maintain our competitive edge.

Team management and collaboration 

In leadership interviews, questions about team management and collaboration look at your ability to build a positive work environment, encourage teamwork and handle any challenges that arise. Here are some example questions with suggested answers.

“How do you build a strong team culture that fosters collaboration and innovation?”

Building a strong team culture starts with setting clear values and goals that align with the organisation’s mission. I encourage open communication, where team members feel valued and heard, by having regular team check-ins and one-on-one sessions. To encourage collaboration, I create opportunities for team members to work together on projects, ensuring a mix of skills and perspectives. For innovation, I use brainstorming sessions to provide a safe space for sharing new ideas.

“Share an experience where you had to deal with a team member not meeting expectations. How did you handle it?”

In a previous role, I had a team member who was struggling to meet project deadlines, impacting the team’s performance. I approached the situation with empathy, scheduling a one-on-one meeting to understand any underlying issues. It turned out that the team member was overwhelmed with the workload and unsure about certain aspects of the project. I provided additional support and resources, including a short-term mentorship with a more experienced team member. We also revisited the project timeline and tasks to make them more manageable.

Preparation is key when it comes to leadership interview questions. Have answers ready to go and try to anticipate any ‘surprise’ questions that might crop up. Leadership interviews are unique opportunities to showcase not just your skills and experiences, but also your vision, strategic thinking and ability to inspire and lead a team. Remember to tailor your responses to reflect your unique experiences and insights, as well as the specific requirements of the leadership role you are aspiring to. 


What is a good leadership interview question?

A good leadership interview question is: How do you handle a situation where your team disagrees with your decision? This question not only gives you an opportunity to discuss how you handle conflict in the workplace, but also gives a gauge on your emotional intelligence and ability to maintain authority while taking on feedback.

How to answer “What is your leadership style?” interview question 

An answer to the question “What is your leadership style?” could be: 

My leadership style is collaborative and adaptive. I believe in empowering my team by valuing their input and expertise, while also being ready to provide clear direction and support when needed.

This shows that you are willing to listen to your team, while still taking the lead. 

What is an ideal leadership interview question?

An ideal leadership interview question is: Can you describe a time when you had to lead through change? How did you manage it? This question looks at your change management skills, adaptability and ability to guide a team through transitions effectively.

How do you demonstrate leadership skills in an interview question?

To demonstrate leadership skills in an interview, respond to questions with specific examples. For instance, answering the question “How do you motivate a team?” with:

I motivate my team by setting clear goals, providing regular feedback and recognising individual and team achievements. For example, in my last role, I implemented a monthly recognition program that improved team morale and productivity. 

This response shows how you applied your leadership skills to motivate your team for an effective business outcome.

More from this category: Job interviews

Top search terms

Want to know what people are searching for on SEEK? Explore our top search terms to stay across industry trends.
Select an industry to uncover the top search terms

Subscribe to Career Advice

Get expert career advice delivered to your inbox.
You can cancel emails at any time. By clicking ‘subscribe’ you agree to SEEK’s Privacy Statement.