Guidance for interviewing at the leadership level

Guidance for interviewing at the leadership level

When preparing for an interview for a leadership role, many candidates experience a moment of realisation that they haven’t done this before or, at least, not for a long time. While they are absolute experts in their current role and indeed most likely are experienced interviewers themselves, being in the interviewee seat is a different story… This is a very valid feeling. Many candidates will have been in their current roles for a while, or perhaps they got their job without a formal interview process or quite possibly this is their debut into leadership and the last time they interviewed was a different interview style for a different level. 

In this blog, we wanted to share some guidance for those approaching an interview for a leadership role both in terms of form and content. 


  • You can expect an interview process at this level to have more stages than the standard 2 stage approach. Additional informal meetings with other members of the SLT, Board or indeed direct reports into the vacancy, may all be included to allow for more insight to be shared on both sides and a greater understanding of the role and business culture at hand. 
  • Psychometric testing is not uncommon at this level. This will not form part of the selection process but rather inform the content of a final stage, giving the panel insight into areas to explore and how best to support you when in the role. 
  • Presentations are very common in final stages of leadership interview processes and are often set to test high level, strategic thinking such as how you would approach the first 90 days in the role. 

Remember, at this level in particular, the structure of the process is incredibly connected to the content. Those informal meetings are an opportunity to showcase how you conduct 1-1 meetings just as much as they are to allow for you to gain more insight into the role. The presentation is a chance for you to show that you can stand in front of the Board, or SLT, and deliver meaningful messages clearly, articulately in an engaging way that considers what is important to them. 

two colleagues having a meeting

So let’s have a look at bit closer at the content of the interviews….


As with interviews at any level, there is usually an element of competency-based questioning in a leadership interview. What is different at this level is generally the types of competencies that the panel is looking for. For leadership roles, common competencies to be tested for include: 

  • Communication skills / presenting
  • Leadership / inspiring others 
  • Change Management
  • Adaptability
  • Flexibility
  • Decisiveness / Decision Making 
  • Persuasiveness / Influencing 
  • Planning and Organising 
  • Strategic Thinking 
  • Developing Others 

At this level, with every question the interviewers will be testing for leadership, whether directly or indirectly.  You not only want to show that you can succeed at a task level, but inspire others to do so and also to bring success at business level. Therefore, the answers you give need to address this. Here are some tips on achieving that: 

  • Demonstrate an understanding of business level objectives at your current employer and show how the work you have done has been aiming to achieve those. E.g. The business was aiming for X and my contribution towards reaching that was Y. These are the steps I took, the changes to my strategy I needed to make along the way and this was the result…
  • When asked about things such as meeting targets, remember to discuss how you have helped teams meet their targets as well as what has worked for you individually.
  • Show that you are looking outside your division and are able to collaborate with other leaders within the business on shared goals. 

Each leadership appointment will have its own nuances and requirements but we hope that this guidance has helped build your confidence in going into your interview which we hope will be the first step of a successful leadership role for you. 

If you want to discuss this further or indeed talk about how to manage a process from the interviewer side then please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Executive Search Team: 

Abigail Barclay – Search Director – 

Suzy Astbury – Managing Director – 

And for more information on our Executive Search division, please head to our website here:

Abigail Barclay headshot




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