Team leader interview questions | reed.co.uk
Looking to take the next step in your career? It’s time to take the lead…
Whether you’re ready to make the move into a team leader role, or you’re already a team leader and you want to make the switch to a new company, interviewing for a new team leader job can be daunting.
We’ve already covered the five qualities to be a good team leader, but to help show the employer you’re the best person for the job, here are five frequently asked team leader interview questions – and our advice on how to answer them.
Five team leader questions and example answers
What’s your leadership style?
This is a common question that gets asked at team leader interviews. The employer wants to see that you have a proven strategy for leading people. It’s a tricky question as there are no right or wrong answers. Your leadership style is determined by several factors, including skills, experience, values and the company culture.
Your answer should clearly explain what your management style is, along with examples to illustrate this. Always indicate that your approach isn’t rigid – but is adaptable and flexible enough to fully support each team member.
Right answer: “I’d describe my leadership style as supportive. I try to make sure my team has the support and resources they need. I then edge away to let them get on with their job as they’re the experts in their field, not me. However, if problems arise, like a delay that’s holding up the project, I’m comfortable stepping up and making decisions on my team’s behalf. In my previous team leader roles, I’ve held regular chats and team debriefs, and I feel this helps to build a motivated team.”
What would you do if two members of your team didn’t get on?
Let’s face it, most teams contain people who have different drives, personalities and ways of doing things. So it’s inevitable that at some point, two colleagues won’t get on. As a team leader, it’s part of your job to manage this situation, and ensure it doesn’t escalate.
Being asked to describe what action you would take if colleagues didn’t get on is a question that’s frequently asked in team leader interviews. So, before your interview, prepare an example answer using the STAR method to explain the problem, the action you took and the result.
Right answer: ‘It can happen in teams that certain personalities don’t gel well together. For example, I led a team that had two super-competitive salespeople in it. They had turned securing sales into a personal competition, and this led to an uncomfortable environment for the whole team. I sat with them both and explained that while I was impressed with their individual sales skills, the tension between them was affecting morale. Things improved immensely after our talk, and they started working together to achieve bigger sales.’
How do you build a strong culture within your teams?
When a team shares a set of beliefs, attitudes and values, they’re better equipped to achieve their collective goals. Whether it’s hitting a sales target or getting a new product to market.
Team culture is achieved through many things, including supportive leadership and trust – but these things may not be enough on their own. So try and think about practical ways you can create a strong culture, such as team building events, regular one-to-ones and team catch-ups, and use these examples to help give your answer credibility.
Right answer: ‘I believe the basis to creating a strong culture in teams is honesty and communication. I make sure that each person in my team has the right information and resources they need to complete their tasks successfully. I organise regular team meetups to ensure every person understands our team’s purpose and how individually we’re working towards achieving that. Also, twice a month, I hold one-to-one chats where I can give feedback to individuals, and they can raise any issues or concerns with me.’
What methods would you use to evaluate your team’s performance?
Measuring a team’s performance is an important part of a team leader’s job. By identifying strengths and weaknesses of each team member, you can assign them tasks that match their skills.
The method you’ll use to measure the team’s performance will depend on things like the sector you work in, the type of job the team is doing and what the company’s goals are. So, when preparing your answer, think about what factors are important to measure and how you’ll use the information to improve the team’s performance in the future.
And if you can demonstrate how these align with hitting overall business objectives, you’ll really be able to get the recruiter’s attention.
Right answer: ‘When measuring a team’s performance I focus on three areas: is the team member hitting the targets set for them, are team members using the right resources to support them in their job and are they taking actions to improve themselves? For instance, if I’m measuring personal development, I may look at what training courses someone has enrolled in the last quarter and discuss what other courses they can take that will contribute to their continued learning. Not only could this help them build on a potential weakness and improve their skillset, but it could also make them a valuable and more well-rounded asset for the business.’
Tell us about a time you led your team to success?
This question focuses on your ability to inspire and motivate your team. This is your opportunity to impress the employer with your leadership skills, so don’t shy away from acknowledging your accomplishments.
Again, refer to the STAR method to help you clearly explain what the project was, how you managed the team and what value this brought to the company. But also show how the whole team contributed to this success.
Remember: when it comes to interviews, there really is no ‘i’ in team.
Right answer: ‘In my last job, a team member, unfortunately, had an accident, and this meant they were off sick for a while. This happened in the middle of a big project. The other team members had to pick up her tasks. This extra work put pressure on the team and morale was starting to suffer. I arranged a team meeting to thank them for their hard work and to brainstorm ideas on how we could all work more efficiently. We chose two ideas, one of them was asking our team assistant to take on some of the non-project management type tasks. Doing this freed up some of the team’s time and we rolled out the project on time. But it also showed how well we worked together, and it was great to see the team coming up with creative solutions to help solve the problem’
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