Assessing Leadership Skills In the Job Interview

Leadership style is best demonstrated in stories. Ask your candidates for many specific stories and examples.

  • Look for answers that reflect the values and approaches that are acceptable and promoted within your department and the University's culture and mission. A demonstration of values that further the mission of the University can indicate a broad leadership-based understanding of their role and the role of the department within the University.
  • Look for how the candidate seeks their work and contribution to the institution. Do they refer to their work within the context of just their team, their division, or to the larger picture that includes other teams, departments, etc.
  • Ask for elaboration whenever possible to fully define HOW the candidate thinks and going further than WHAT they think.

Sample Interview Questions:


  • You decided to reorganize the department or work unit that you lead. Tell me how you proceeded with the reorganization?
  • Have you ever been a member of a successful team? If so, tell me about the role you played on the team and in its success.
  • Give me an example of a time when you played a leadership role in an event, an activity, a department or work unit, or a project. Tell me about a specific situation when you led these efforts. How did people respond to your leadership?
  • If I were to ask your reporting staff or your peers to comment about your leadership style, your leadership strengths, and your leadership weaknesses, how would they respond?
  • Tell me about a time when you created agreement and shared purpose from a situation in which all parties originally differed in opinion, approach, and objectives..
  • As a leader within an organization, you must often build support for goals and projects from people who do not report to you and over whom you have no authority. Tell me about a situation in which you demonstrated that you can build the needed support.
  • What are the three most important values you demonstrate as a leader? Tell me a story that demonstrates each of these leadership values in practice within your workplace.
  • During your work experiences while attending college, tell me about a time when you demonstrated that you have leadership ability and skill.

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Page Updated 06.03.2013