Team Leader Interview Questions and Answers: The Core Competencies
A team leader is tasked with managing the operational functionality of a group of people. Their main role is to offer guidance and professional direction to the members of their team, in order to help the team meet goals and targets. As a team leader, you must have qualities such as:
Excellent communication. Team leaders are expected to have great interpersonal skills. You must be someone who is capable of empathising with people, when necessary, or even taking disciplinary action if the situation requires it. Fundamentally, you need to have a good understanding of people, their differences, and the approach required to deal with people on an individual and group basis.
Problem solving. As a team leader, you will be the primary decision maker for the group. This means that the members of your team will lean on you for support, guidance, and help with solving difficult problems. You must be able to think logically and analytically, and able to work with the members of your team, to resolve issues.
Motivating. It is extremely important that you are able to motivate the members of your team. As their leader, so to speak, it is down to you to encourage them and persuade them to work within their assigned targets – for the good of the group. It is likely that you’ll be asked to explain motivational techniques or strategies during your interview, so be prepared for this.
Now, let’s look at some team leader interview questions and sample answers!
Q1. Tell me about yourself and why you are suited to the role of Team Leader?
TIP #1 – Split your answer up into two parts (give information about you, and also why you are suited to the role.)
TIP # 2 – Look at the job description and match your answer closely to it.
TIP #3 – Be a firm but fair Team Leader.
“I am a hard-working, professional and conscientious person who enjoys the challenge of both leading and managing people, and also seeing projects and tasks through to successful completion. I pride myself on a strong work ethic and an ability to motivate a team in order to get the best out of them. I believe I am suited to the role of team leader, firstly, because I have the skills, qualities and attributes to match the job description, and secondly because I am someone who simply has a keen desire to lead and manage people. I feel more comfortable when I am managing and leading people and get a great sense of job satisfaction from completing projects through to the end for my employer, to a high standard.”
Q2. What are the qualities of a successful team leader?
TOP TIP – Use ‘POWER’ words and phrases in your response that focus on your ability to:
- Support your team.
- See projects and tasks through to completion.
- Understand your team’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Be a positive role model.
- Work towards the organization’s
“There are numerous qualities that a team leader must possess if they are to be successful in the role. These include being a great communicator. If you cannot communicate effectively, and support your team, you will not see projects through to the end. You must also have a thorough understanding of your team’s strengths and weaknesses, and then adapt your plan based on their qualities. A team leader must be resolute in their actions, be confident in their own and their team’s abilities and also be determined to see projects through to the end. Finally, a team leader must be committed to delivering positive results for his or her employer and act as a positive role model for the organization they are working for.”
Q3. How would you motivate your team?
TIP #1 – All successful leaders know their team members strengths & weaknesses.
TIP # 2 – Communication is vital to motivating your team.
TIP #3 – Always be CLEAR when communicating with your team. If a team knows what’s expected of them, and you encourage & praise them, they will do anything for you! This is the one of the most common team leader interview questions and answers.
“There are two key elements I would use to motivate my team. These are communication and clarity. I would motivate my team by communicating with them in three ways. Firstly, by talking to each team member to find out what they are good at and what their strengths are. Secondly, I would communicate the organization’s goals regularly to ensure each team member was clear on the plan of action we had in place. And thirdly, I would be a supportive team leader who would encourage the team regularly during the task being undertaken and also praise them when appropriate. With regards to clarity, I feel a team is far more likely to succeed, and be self-motivated if they understand clearly what the plan is. I would always brief the team as to what is expected from them. If a team understands what is required, and they are praised when they work well, they will stay motivated.”
Q4. What type of leader are you?
TIP #1 – To be an effective leader, you have to set the standards expected of your team.
TIP # 2 – Being firm but fair is a great way to lead.
TIP #3 – Showing empathy as a leader, when required, is vital. You should expect to demonstrate this during the process of your team leader interview questions and answers.
“I believe I am hard-working, professional and determined leader who takes great pride in their work. I am a leader who is able to get the most out of their team by implementing supportive and motivational strategies in parallel. Whilst I am very much a firm leader, who expects nothing but high standards from his team, I also have empathy and can react to a team members’ change in performance, if it occurs. As a team leader, I feel it is important to understand your team and what motivates them individually. Whenever leading a new team, I would always carry out initial staff appraisals to get to know my team and to also lay down the expectations I have of each team member. To summarize, I am leader who is firm, fair and highly-focused on my employers goals and their overall mission.”
Q5. How would you solve a dispute or disagreement between two team members under your control?
TIP #1 – Always look to resolve problems and disputes quickly.
TIP # 2 – Show the panel you have the confidence and expertise to resolve disputes.
TIP #3 – When resolving issues between team members, always get those involved to genuinely agree to the resolution.
“First of all, I think it is important to get to the bottom of a dispute quickly. If you let a dispute or disagreement fester, or try and allow it to rectify itself naturally, you run the risk of it becoming a serious problem whereby it can affect the rest of the team. If there is a dispute or disagreement, I will first of all gather some facts to find out what the problem actually is. I will speak to each person involved individually to get clarity on the situation. Then, I will decide what my plan of action is to resolve the situation amicably and quickly. This would normally involve sitting down with both parties to discuss the situation in a calm manner with a view to resolving the issue. I would then, at the end of the meeting, get both team members to agree on the resolution and put it behind them for the benefit of the team.”
Q6. Describe a project where you led a team to success?
TIP #1 – Give a SPECIFIC example when answering this question.
TIP # 2 – Try and include an external pressure that makes the project more difficult.
TIP #3 – Show that you were able to motivate your team to complete the project successfully.
“There have been many occasions where I have led a team to success. However, perhaps the most recent and most notable was whereby my team had to complete a task for my company under difficult and challenging circumstances. Our company IT system went down unexpectedly and it quickly became apparent that it needed to be replaced, and quickly. Each day the system was down, the organization was losing significant sums of money. I created a plan of action before sitting down with my team to explain the brief and I wanted each person to do. It was particularly difficult because the work we were required to carry out had to be completed over a weekend. I needed to motivate my team to come in over the weekend when they were not expected to work. After I briefed the team successfully, they all understood the importance of the task and agreed to come in over the weekend period.
Over the weekend we worked tirelessly to replace the entire IT system as quickly and accurately as possible. Once the system had been replaced, we then spent time checking everything was working correctly to make sure the business could operate as normal. We also put measures in place to make sure the system failure would not happen again. Once Monday morning came around, the task was complete and the business was able to function again without hindrance. I feel this was a successful project because I was able to motivate the team successfully, whilst also providing clarity on the work I wanted to be carried out and by what time-frame.”
Q7. Have you ever failed as a leader?
TIP #1 – Give an example where you have actually failed.
TIP #2 – Tell the panel what you learnt from the experience.
TIP #3 – Tell the interview panel how you have matured as a leader from the experience.
“Yes, I have. In the early days of being a leader I remember leading a team by using an entirely autocratic approach. I was basically dictating what I expected of the team and what I wanted them to do. This was a mistake, simply because I failed to get to know my team and also what motivated them as individuals. I soon realized that my approach to leadership would fail, and so I decided to change quickly. I believe that initial experience of leading people stood me in good stead and has made me the leader I am today. I continually analyze my performance to look for ways I can improve. I feel this is an important quality of an effective leader, and being reflective of one’s own performance is a key ingredient of being successful.”
For further Leadership Interview Questions or resources to develop your Team Leader Skills check out our Free Online Interview Training Course.