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How Do You Delegate?

Delegating tasks is a key capability for anyone in a management role. Being able to delegate effectively is not only a quality of a strong leader but a necessary skill to free up your energy for the big-picture tasks you were hired to complete. 

Because of this, you’re likely to be asked about delegating any time you’re interviewing for a role where you’ll be overseeing others. Here’s how to answer the question the right way.

Why do interviewers ask about how you delegate?

No single person can or should handle the duties of multiple people. To lead a productive team, you need to be able to delegate–that is, to assign tasks to other people. Interviewers ask about delegation to find out if you empower their reports to accomplish tasks autonomously, which is the sign of an effective leader. 

They also want to learn how you delegate, which will give them clues about your overall work style. Your preferences will determine whether you’re a good fit for the workplace culture and how the operation is run. 

What hiring managers are looking for when they ask about delegating

You’ll play an important role in achieving business objectives as someone in a senior position. An interviewer wants to find out whether they can confidently hand over the reins and expect results, which requires a measured approach to delegation. 

Your interviewer will be looking to hear that you have a system in place for delegating important tasks. Ideally, you want it to sound like your team runs like a well-oiled machine, where everyone has a fair share of work, tasks are accomplished promptly, and no one is regularly overloaded.

How to answer, “How do you delegate?”

Explain your feelings on delegation

Your answer should communicate that you welcome delegation and view it as a necessary part of managing employees. Explain why you think it’s important to delegate and what role it plays in your own success as a leader.

Give examples of delegation

Share what tasks you currently delegate and to whom. Then, explain what delegation means for your own workflow–for example, freeing up your mental energy for strategic planning or allowing you to allocate more time to staff coaching.

Share your thought process

Give your interviewer a glimpse of your critical thinking capabilities by explaining how you choose which tasks to give to which employees, the process for checking in with them, and how you see through projects to completion.

How not to answer questions about delegating

Suggest that you struggle with delegating

Managers who can’t delegate effectively cause all sorts of problems for companies. Their employees view them as control-freak micromanagers, while their employers may believe they are ineffective leaders. Plus, it’s necessary to prevent burnout.

So, be sure to speak confidently and enthusiastically about delegating rather than suggesting it’s challenging for you. 

Sample answers to “How do you delegate?”

Example #1

“As a manager, delegation is critical to my team’s success. I like to delegate tasks where my employees can become subject-matter experts, like competitor analysis and customer support. My team members feel empowered by taking ownership of an aspect of our performance, while the company benefits from them becoming increasingly proficient.”

Example #2

“I believe delegation is an important aspect of employee development. That’s why I like to delegate tasks that will help my reports stretch and grow, like creative problem-solving and campaign management. To decide what tasks to delegate, I analyze my employees’ strengths and career goals and try to assign tasks that are the best fit to support them.”

You can further strengthen your answer by giving specific examples of the results you’ve achieved by delegating. Stats, financial metrics, and other numbers that demonstrate positive results for the company are always a plus.