Leadership. An ability to lead the others, the company you work for or run, or perhaps just your personal life and relationships? Do you have the skills? And do you know how to demonstrate your leadership while interviewing for a job?

In this article we will have a look at some questions that help the interviewers to understand the level of your leadership. You can get these questions while trying to get any kind of managerial, executive, or leadership position in a corporate sphere. Let’s start!


Question 1. How do you motivate your subordinates?

The level of motivation of the employees determines the success of the company they work for. Great leaders can motivate their co-workers and subordinates in both good and bad times.

You can say that you try to help the workers to understand the relation of their personal goals, with the goals you try to achieve in the company.

Or that you like to go by example, doing your best every day, staying long in work, taking interest in the life of your colleagues and helping them to handle their routine. You can also talk about team building activities. Or about  any other activities that help to strengthen the team spirit in the workplace, and make it easier for you to lead the people in the office.

One way or another, you should do your best to convince the interviewers that you understand the importance of motivation, the crucial role it plays in every corporation. Show them that you know how to motivate your colleagues, and that you can put knowledge to practice.


Question 2. What characterize a good leader, from your point of view?

To the abilities that characterize a good leader definitely belong:

  • Ability to inspire the others and motivate them to achieve their full potential in work.
  • Capacity to develop strengths of other people, and help them to improve on their weaknesses.
  • Ability to unite people and build and lead a team that follows a mutual goal.
  • A natural sense for seeing the broad picture, and thinking a few steps ahead.
  • ….

Actually there are many theories about leadership, and you can address this question from various angles.

For example, you can say that great leaders attract people, believe in them, and connect with them (John Maxwell is the original author of this definition).

Another alternative is to focus on achieving goals, saying that great leaders are characterized primarily by their ability to set the right goals for the company, and to achieve these goals later on.

handshake in an interview. We can see three people, all smiles, two of them shake their hands

Question 3. What do you consider the most difficult decision a manager (CEO, leader, etc) has to make in their job?

Leaders have to make decisions, and you will sometimes have to make a hard one.

Dismissing someone you like–perhaps a colleague who happens to be your friend outside of work, is one of the difficult decisions you’ll have to make, sooner or later.

In a good answer to this question you should describe some difficult decisions (ideally decisions you already made in the past) and ensure the panel of interviewers that you would not allow your emotions to control your decisions. You would always do the best thing for the company–even if your resignation was the best thing :). Remember that your attitude is more important than the particular situation you narrate in your interview answer.

Special Tip: If you are preparing for an interview with one of the Fortune 500 companies, you should know that you will face many tricky scenario based questions, and not only the one about leadership. If you want to be ready for everything the hiring managers may throw at you, consider checking out our Interview Success Package, which includes multiple sample answers to 104 interview questions, including 31 behavioral (scenario-based) questions. This can be the last part of the puzzle you are missing on your way to an amazing job…


Question 4: How would you attract a person to follow your leadership in work?

In the most basic explanation, a leader is determined by the number of their followers.

Sure, you can have a fancy job title, you can have the biggest office on the floor, and the power that comes with your position, and you can attend the meetings of the board.

But whether the people who work under you will really follow you, whether they will really try their best in their jobs (because they like you, respect you, and do not want to disappoint you), does not depend on your job title, or size of your office.

Leaders can attract people in different ways. Someone has a strong charisma and personality. Another one benefits from things they have already achieved in their career–people respect them because of their achievements.

If you are not sure what motivates other people to follow you, however, you can always ask them. And if you want a good interview answer that always works, you can simply bet on the individual approach to each employee. 

Say that you try to understand their personality, needs, and desires, and connect with them on a personal level.

The best leaders are the best listeners. The best leaders are sincerely interested in the people they lead. Law of action and reaction always works. Show the interviewers that you understand these basic principles of attracting the others.

* May also interest you: Team leader interview questions – Learn how to answer other tough questions for leaders.

Young woman interviews for a managerial job in an international corporation. Two interviewers study her face carefully with their eyes.

Question 5: What will be the most popular product in this business (niche), in five years time?

Leaders should be able to plan one step ahead, and to see two, or even three steps ahead. In order to come up with the right strategical plan, in order to stay in front of the pack, you should have some vision of the future.

Right answer to this question depends on the position you try to get, on the particular field you want to work in. Luckily for you, we live in an era of information. A good research will help you to understand the trends in the industry. You will see who leads the market today, and you can think who (or what) will lead it in five years time.

Show the interviewers that you care, that you did your homework, that you are interested in their filed of business. The predictions you make in an interview do not necessarily have to come true–they won’t come true most of the time. But it is important to show them that you care, and that you have some opinion about the future…

Other leadership interview questions you may check out:

Special Tip: You can also download a simple one-page long list of 10 common leadership interview questions, in a .PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later:

list of questions, PDF

Additional resources for your interview preparation

Leadership is a broad topic, and you will find a lot of good literature, courses, and seminars that will help you to become a better leader (one can be born a leader, but once can also learn how to lead people and businesses effectively). Everything is just a question of knowledge, and practice.

To help you to continue your preparation for a leadership role interview (or for the role itself), we put together a list of internal and external resources.

We hope it will help you to understand your level of leadership, to improve on it, and to get a job you want to have. See the resources below:

  • Interview Success Package – If you do not have much time to prepare for your interview, or if you struggle with making a good impression on the hiring managers, have a look at our package and solve all your problems within a few hours (with premium interview answers to these and other tricky interview questions).
  • John Maxwell official website – Maxwell was named the No. 1 leadership and management expert in the world by Inc. Magazine. Check one of his books, or watch one his videos on YouTube. It will help you to understand where you are as a leader, at this point of your life, and how you can progress to the next level. The knowledge will help you also in an interview, because once you understand leadership better, you will know how to answer many tough interview questions.
  • Robin Sharma website – Sharma is a Canadian writer and motivational speaker known for his The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari book series. He is considered one of the top leadership experts in the world, and some of his ideas are highly unconventional. Reading Sharma’s books will help you to see your career and leadership in a new light…
  • How to overcome interview nerves – Anxiety can kill your chances in any interview for a leadership role. Learn how to overcome it.
  • How to prepare for an interview with the CEO – Going to meet the CEO of the company? Learn what matters for the decision makers, and how to connect with them in your interview.
Matthew Chulaw
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