Going for a promotion at work or applying for a new position with another company can be daunting. You need to show the interviewers that you are the best person for the job. Read on for answers to three important Team Leader interview questions.
Before you attend any interview, you need to brush up on your basic skills. Here’s a short ‘Introductory’ course on Team Leading and Management basics that you should work through to make sure you don’t stumble on any simple questions: Principles of Management
If you understood the basic principles of planning, organizing, leading, and control outlined in that short course, then great! Read through the Team Leader interview questions here, and you’ll be well on your way to interview success.
If you don’t think your best qualities as a Team Leader stand out, or you’re worried that a lack of prior experience could hold you back in an interview situation, don’t worry! You can turn what might seem like a negative thing or a problem into a positive thing. Everyone has their own individual strengths and weaknesses, and acknowledging those and working with your best qualities in mind is a sign of a great leader. Here’s a quick course on Leading With Your Strengths.
Now, here are the questions.
1. What you would do if two of your team were arguing over how to complete a task?
This is a pretty basic question that you should always expect to be asked. Conflict management and resolution is a key skill for any Team Leader. Think back to Leading With Your Strengths – are you good at negotiation? Could you make Person 1 see things Person 2’s way, and vice versa? Could you come up with a method that suits both people? Telling your interviewer that you are competent at finding a middle ground shows them that you are compassionate and thoughtful.
Conversely, you could assess the situation and make a decision on the way the work should be done. Make it clear that you aren’t siding with Person 1 over Person 2, but that you have made a decision as the Team Leader that it should be done the way you say. This response will show the interviewer that you are decisive and not afraid to put your foot down, that you have an appreciation for rules and procedures, and that you don’t tolerate arguments.
Go with an answer that fits your personal style of leading and apply it to the situation you’re given. Pay attention to the business that you’re applying to work in. Some businesses have strict rules about how work must be done, so negotiation might not be the best approach. Other companies might praise people for trying to make improvements, so being seen as closed-minded or unwilling to adapt would be a bad idea.
2. What steps do you take to motivate your team?
The interviewers need to know your basic management style, your ability to make sure Stuff Gets Done, to ensure deadlines are met and customers are happy. If this question seems daunting to you, you should consider this quick online course in Leading From The Front, which will give you some ideas for answering confidently.
You can take one or two different routes in answering this question, which depends on your style of management. If you tend towards being friendly, approachable, and being seen as “one of the team”, you can tell the interviewer that you believe that building a close-knit working relationship between all team members will result in a natural increase in motivation – for example, organising team events, encouraging socialisation together outside of work, showing flexibility in working hours in return for extra hard work during busy times, and rewards for the entire team together. Making your team members feel like a “family” will allow them to motivate each other, and the reward for their hard work is the approval of their peers and colleagues, which (when properly maintained) will create a cycle of self-improvement. This kind of manager is the type to ask everyone to do overtime to meet a target, but will order everyone pizza while they work.
However, if you feel like that method is too imprecise or too unprofessional, you can opt for a more serious and structured method of motivation – at the most basic level, direct praise for a job well done is a powerful motivator, and done openly in front of other team members it will motivate everybody, not just the person already doing a good job. Bonuses, intangible but coveted rewards like “Employee of the Month” status, and the promise of promotion or further opportunities are all structured and distinct methods of driving improvement. Negative feedback is also extremely important in this style of management. Letting someone know when the work they have done is not good enough can be the push they need to do better, but it needs to be carefully balanced with praise to avoid demoralizing them. This kind of manager is more likely to make examples of under- or over-performing staff to move the team forward in a positive direction.
More examples of basic leadership styles can be found in this short course: Transition to Leadership
3. Why do you want this job?
This is one of the broadest questions you can be asked, right alongside “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and “What do you hope to achieve?” It’s also one of the easiest to answer if you’re well prepared.
It’s purposefully quite vague, but the interviewers want you to summarize you, your goals, and what you can bring to their company. By this stage in the interview you should have already been over your qualifications, your experience, and your outlook, so you can tie all these things together into an impressive answer – “This role represents a natural progression of my skills and experience. It’s the next step for me, and I really believe it will be both challenging and fulfilling” – is a great way to close your answer.
But, some interviewers ask this question first, before you’ve had a chance to tell them anything else about yourself. If they ask you this question at the start of the interview, you need to sum up your previous roles and experience quickly and concisely and focus more on the company you’re applying to. This is your chance to wow them with your knowledge of their business. Do your research – tell them that you know about their industry, you know what they stand for and where they are going, and then tell them you share those goals. Make them believe you want to be a part of their company, not just that you need a job. They asked you about what YOU want, but you need to remind them that you’re aware it’s still all about what THEY want from you. This starts the interview off in a really positive way and gives them a great impression of you.
Good luck in your interview!