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Leadership Interview Questions

30 Questions and Answers by

Rachelle Enns is an interview coach and job search expert. She works with candidates to perform their best in employment, medical, and post-secondary admission interviews.

Leadership was updated on June 11th, 2020. Learn more here.

Question 1 of 30

Have you ever had to give an employee a poor performance review? How did you feel about that responsibility?

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Leadership Interview Questions & Answers

  1. 1.

    Have you ever had to give an employee a poor performance review? How did you feel about that responsibility?

      How to Answer

      The interviewer wants to know how you react to uncomfortable tasks and awkward conversations. No matter how seasoned a leader you are, it is never fun to deliver a poor performance review.

      Showcase the fact that you are confident in your professionalism and communication skills, that you are capable of challenging conversations, and that you can give helpful feedback while providing valuable mentorship to your team. You could mention how you ensured that you did not humiliate the individual but that you discretely pulled them aside to have the conversation.

      Finally, be sure to mention that the person continued to have a healthy relationship with you following the discussion. This fact will highlight that you handled the situation professionally.

      If you do not have experience with performance reviews, it is okay! Tell the interviewer that you have never been in a role where you needed to give a formal performance review, but you look forward to learning the process. Add an example of a time when you provided someone with constructive feedback instead. This example can be in the workplace, school, or maybe even on a sports team.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "A large part of my role is to give monthly performance reviews to my team of 13 employees. When I need to deliver a poor review, the employee is already aware that I will be looking for improvement in their performance. This awareness is because I stay in close contact with all of my employees on their monthly progress. The last poor performance review I delivered was a 30-minute review that I booked with the individual ahead of time. Their productivity had been slipping for about four weeks, and it was time to make a new plan of action. I was sure to make the meeting private. I gave tangible feedback using specific examples. Then, we created a measurable plan together. This team member was appreciative of the time that I took to nurture the situation rather than reprimand them."

      Rachelle's Answer for an Admin Interview

      "To be completely transparent, giving critical reviews is not my favorite task; however, if I am prepared for the conversation ahead of time, I can complete a well-balanced performance review. I have trained a few temp administrators in my current role, as we utilize a temp agency during our peak seasons. Just last month, I was asked to provide performance feedback to a new temp associate. I gave some critical points, with examples, and then offered suggestions and action steps for improvement. The temp associate was appreciative that I put in the added effort to help them do a better job."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Manager Interview

      "Recently, during my exit interview, I gave my company a performance review, which was an interesting twist from my typical performance reviews that I deliver as a manager. I sat down in private with the CEO before I left and gave him valuable feedback regarding some of the company's processes. It was a slightly uncomfortable conversation; however, he thanked me for my honesty in the end. I provided helpful information and thoughts that the company can build on for future growth and improvements."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Marketing Interview

      "I have delivered a handful of performance reviews in my current role as Marketing Manager. When I give an unsavory review, I act as a mentor and ask the employee to work with me on a performance plan. I never want anyone to feel like they are on the verge of being fired because that never improves an employee's performance. I took this approach a few weeks ago when I noticed one of our junior marketers' productivity dwindle. We discussed the approach, the tools I could provide to support her better, and we also set a timeline for change. I wanted her to feel like she was part of an important collaboration to boost engagement."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Retail Interview

      "In my previous role, performance reviews were handled by my manager. However, I did help my manager file write-ups related to performance issues. I believe that performed correctly, a performance review with a poorly performing team member, is a great service since it's an investment of time aimed to help them improve. I am open to learning how to deliver a proper performance review."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Sales Interview

      "I am comfortable giving feedback to others when needed. I know to be specific, approach the situation with empathy, and ensure that all poor performance-related conversations happen in private. A couple of months ago, when I was giving an employee review, I started by asking the person to assess their performance. The person pointed out their shortcomings, which aligned with the notes that I had prepared. From the point of agreeance, we had a positive brainstorming session and came up with a plan for improvement. This particular team member thanked me for coaching rather than reprimanding them."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Teacher Interview

      "I give student reviews all the time, even aside from report card time. I am comfortable giving constructive feedback in any situation; however, I have never critiqued a fellow teacher. In one of my more recent parent-teacher interviews, I needed to let the parents of my student know that his attentiveness in class was slipping. In the conversation, I focused on his performance, rather than his personality. This way, the situation did not become personal in any way. Together, we worked on a plan to help this student become more engaged in class. In the end, the student responded very well, and his parents were happy that I came to them with my concerns."

      5+ Community Answers

      Anonymous Answer

      "Yes, poor performance reviews, although challenging, are part of leadership. I approached it from a perspective of reinforcement of the tasks that are being done correctly, then provided feedback on the tasks that need to be improved. To get them to engage in their improvement- I asked what tools or training did they need to help them succeed in the tasks. The result was provided with additional instruction and mentoring, which helped them improve."

      Rachelle's Answer

      It seems you are well prepared for the many challenges and responsibilities that come with leadership. This is a good approach to performance reviews.

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      Anonymous Answer

      "I have not done a performance review, but I did notice when one of my co-workers was not doing a task correctly. I swung back around and we went over the scenario again, did some more follow-up training."

      Marcie's Answer

      Excellent answer. The way you answer this question makes it almost inconsequential that you haven't ever done a performance review before. Because even though you haven't, you tactfully corrected a colleague who was doing something wrong and gave them help and training when they were struggling to complete a task, which is similar. You might talk more about the type of feedback you provided them, how you gave it without upsetting them, and how you felt while administering the guidance. And definitely mention that in the end, they were able to complete the task confidently and successfully due to your help.

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