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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

How do you present bad, or disappointing news, to your team members?

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Leadership Interview Questions & Answers

  1. 1.

    How do you present bad, or disappointing news, to your team members?

      How to Answer

      The interviewer is interested in knowing your leadership and management style when it comes to delivering less than pleasant news. Some people have trouble facilitating difficult conversations, so you must display your ability to be uncomfortable while maintaining a position of authority.

      If possible, give an example of a time when you had a challenging conversation. Explain how you were able to deliver the news professionally.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I don't believe anyone enjoys delivering bad news; however, as a leader, it is part of what I need to do - sometimes on a weekly or even daily basis. When I have news to share that I know will disappoint someone, I will sit down with them, one-on-one, and express that I know how much the situation meant to them. I will then highlight to my team member what they did very well and make a plan with them to either try again or come up with an alternate plan."

      Rachelle's Answer for an Admin Interview

      "Before I deliver bad news, I like to prepare my self for every possible reaction from the person to whom I am delivering the news. I will make sure to have a reply ready for someone who reacts angrily, someone who becomes emotional, and someone who may have a disengaged reaction. By having a variety of conversation approaches prepared, I can enter an uncomfortable conversation with confidence."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Manager Interview

      "I learned early on in my management career that I should never joke around or make light of a situation when I am delivering unpleasant news. When I need to have an uncomfortable conversation, I approach the situation as though it were me receiving the news. I am kind, patient, and understanding of their reaction."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Marketing Interview

      "It's important to remember when delivering bad news, that I am having a conversation with a person who has a range of feelings. I directly deliver the news and then allow the team member to speak their mind. They can vent and get everything off their chest before they return to their desk. If the situation is dire, I will invite them to go for a walk to the coffee shop down the road to get some fresh air and blow off some steam."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Retail Interview

      "When delivering bad news, I make sure to give it to the person straight and never beat around the bush. That's as bad as receiving the 'we need to talk' text from your significant other! I will talk to the person as soon as possible and fill them in on the situation. I am always empathetic in my delivery."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Sales Interview

      "Salespeople often have particularly strong and competitive personality types, which means they want to get to the point. When I have to deliver unsavory news, I avoid being vague. This approach means collecting as much data as possible before having the conversation. If someone missed their monthly target, for instance, I sit them down with the monthly numbers and analytics so they can create a vision of where things went awry. We can then make a plan of action together to avoid the situation from repeating itself."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Teacher Interview

      "As an educator, I approach all difficult conversations with the utmost empathy. I know that no student goes out and tries to fail. Everyone wants to succeed; it's just that some people may not have the tools to do that. I will deliver the bad news, a low grade, for example, and then sit down to make a plan with the student on how we can avoid that from happening again. Before ending the conversation, I will give the student one example of what I enjoy or like about them. I aim always to leave a conversation with a student on an encouraging note."

      5+ Community Answers

      Anonymous Answer

      "I sit down with my team individually and then as a group and explain to them what we have done well and where we missed the mark. I explain what we can do in the future to succeed. I present the news in a patient and compassionate manner."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Your leadership qualities are on point!

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      Anonymous Answer

      "It is always hard to give bad news, but sometimes you have to do so. It's important to give bad news compassionately, discuss with the individual where the mark was missed, and whenever possible come up with a plan for future success. I had a situation with a student that did very poorly on an exam. I let him know that he had a failing grade and then had a discussion to find out what he had done to prepare for the exam. I realized that he lacked good study skills. I told him I would do a class on study skills which I did the following week. It helped that student, as well as others and there was an improvement in the student's grades week over week. He has had consistently good grades ever since."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Perfectly formed response. You are clear on your approach, and the story example that you provide is engaging. Great job highlighting your communication style!

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      Anonymous Answer

      "If it affects everyone I would have a group meeting and if it is concerning only one individual I would handle that in a one-on-one meeting."

      Marcie's Answer

      Good answer! It's probably best to hold a group meeting if the news impacts everyone but to hold a one-on-one meeting if only one person is affected. Consider also discussing the manner in which you will impart the news (e.g., you will be calm and compassionate) and mentioning that you will follow up with team members after the fact to make sure they are okay.

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      Anonymous Answer

      "I have had to present disappointing news, such as not receiving a bonus. I did this is a sensitive way to keep the team engaged as well as implementing company policy."

      Lauren's Answer

      This is a good start. I would add more depth about how you approach and disseminate the news.

      "There was a time when I had to deliver rather disappointing new to my team about not reaching a goal that would have resulted in a bonus. I facilitated a team meeting and delivered the information sensitively. I engaged the group by being optimistic about reaching future goals, and ways we can improve our performance. When delivering difficult information, I think it is best to provide feedback, encouragement, and ways to improve. This is done with without harsh criticism."

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      Anonymous Answer

      "I'd always seek to be honest and not sugar coat. So if there is bad or disappointing news, I wouldn't sugar coat anything. However, timing is key. I would present the information at a place and time where we could have a proper conversation about the news to maintain team morale as much as possible."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Very well said! This answer is thorough and helpful to the interviewer.

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      Anonymous Answer

      "I take the time to present bad news to the team. Being empathetic is an important part and listening to the team when they have questions or concerns. After the news has been shared, I will check up on them one by one during the day to see how they are feeling."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Your style of communication sounds kind, patient, and professional. Well done!

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      Anonymous Answer

      "It's important to get to the point. People can pick up on cues that bad news is coming and the longer they are strung along the more obvious it becomes. It's important to deliver the bad news clearly, be prepared for a negative reaction."

      Cindy's Answer

      Good approach. An example would help demonstrate the effectiveness of the approach.

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      Anonymous Answer

      "Whenever I have to deliver bad news, be it to patients/family or team members, I present it in private with compassion. No matter what the situation, even if the news is due to team members conduct, I present it with compassion and encourage them that there's room for improvement."

      Stephanie's Answer

      Great response!

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      Anonymous Answer

      "It's important to start on a positive note and to take a conversational approach. It's also important to be direct, address the issue, and allow team members a chance to speak their minds."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Perfectly crafted response.

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      Anonymous Answer

      "Show my appreciation for their contribution and then slowly introduce the bad news."

      Rachelle's Answer

      This response is okay but try to soften the delivery.

      "When I present bad, or disappointing news, I will begin by letting my team member know how much I appreciate their hard work. I would let them know the bad news and ask them if they wanted to discuss further what could have been done differently. After delivering bad news, I think it's important to give the team member time to process and ask questions."

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