How to Highlight your Leadership Skills in an Interview

Britain’s labour market enjoyed record breaking highs in 2018, as it achieved record high employment of 75.6% and saw a total of 32.39 million people in work. Whilst there’s some doubt surrounding the true context of these numbers, the UK’s labour market seems in rude health as it benefits from an increased level of competitiveness.

This enables employers to really challenge and probe candidates for work, particularly when they’re hiring experienced applicants for interim management roles. Make no mistake; you’re likely to be asked some genuinely direct questions when applying for this type of position, the majority of which will aim to highlight your core leadership skills.

We’ll address some of these questions below, whilst asking which skills they’re looking to uncover and the responses that will help you to make a positive impression on potential employers.

1. Conflict Resolution – Tell Me About the Most Difficult Team You’ve Ever Led, and How you Coped?

Tension in the office can have an adverse effect on morale and employee engagement, so as a manager you’ll be directly responsible for minimising this and resolving conflicts on a daily basis.

This question is therefore an attempt to determine how you’ve coped with ongoing conflicts within your team, particularly when dealing with strong personalities then tend to clash regularly.

What interviewers are looking for here is your innate understanding of everyday conflict resolution in the typical office, and your ability to provide multiple examples of how you’ve quelled issues and kept teams running smoothly.

If you’re a seasoned manager, you should definitely have several examples of settling small and seemingly minor conflicts, and presenting these will help to make a good impression during an interview.

2. Negotiation – What’s the Most Important Attribute of a Negotiator?

An ability to negotiate is one of the most important leadership skills, as it helps to get the best out of employees whilst also keeping them sated and engaged with the brand.

Negotiation skills may be also be required when liaising with clients and suppliers, so it can have a positive impact at every stage of the business.

With this question, interviews will most likely probe you on your understanding of negotiation, and the core attributes that contribute to this difficult art.

Whilst it’s important to touch on characteristics such as confidence, you should also build your answers around attributes such as empathy, fairness and critical reasoning.

Although these skills aren’t always synonymous with leadership, they betray your ability to understand somebody else’s point of view and propose resolutions that can benefit everyone involved.

3. Decision-Making – Are you a Risk Taker?

This is something of a loaded question posed by interviewers, not least because calculated risk-taking often plays a key role in commercial success.

However, candidates who take too many risks or struggle to articulate their decision-making process are unlikely to impress employers, as they may lack the ability to think in a critical and rational manner.

Ultimately, you’ll need to demonstrate that you understand the difference between calculated and unfounded risks, whilst showcasing a commercial mind and some semblance of level-headiness.

You must also understand the consequences of specific actions and decisions, as this is something that individuals often overlook in the workplace.


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