Interview Question: Tell Me About a Time You Demonstrated Leadership Skills
This is one of the most basic interview questions asked and this particular question can come in different formats. For example, it can come in these formats: tell me about a time you led by example, tell me about a time you delegated leadership, and describe your leadership style? No matter the format the interviewer or job recruiter presents the question, it all demands leadership quality. The reason why job recruiters and interviewers ask this question is to checkmate the leadership potential or qualities of prospective employees. Job recruiters also want to check the level of your competence, this particular question falls under behavioral job interview questions. Behavioral interview questions require you to show how you demonstrated competencies in the past. Once a Job recruiter has an understanding of your past they can predict how your future performance will be.
Tips on How to Answer the Question
Respond Positively: This is a direct question and it will be catastrophic to respond negatively. Respond positively by acknowledging you have carried out a leadership task in the past. Leadership is beyond handling a managerial position: graduates or entry-level positions at the company will be asked this question. The rationale behind this question is to check whether you can motivate and inspire teammates even though you are not in a managerial position. This will also show the job recruiter how you can relate with your co-workers and spread ideas in your team. Use this as an opportunity to show the job recruiter your leadership skills in case you are promoted to a high rank or position at your workplace. It will be very wrong for you to say I have never led anyone. This is a sample response: Yes, I have led a team in the past; do you want to hear my experience? The Interviewer will answer Yes.
Demonstrate A Time You Led By Example
A good leader is a leader that leads by example, a lot of people know how to give rules and regulations but they can never follow such rules. Job recruiters are not looking for a tyrant leader but someone who can show an example for others to follow. This is not the time for you to describe how you have been bossy in the past but share a leadership role you played and people following you by the example you showed. Job recruiters are very much aware that it is very easy to lead by giving people a set of instructions to follow but leaders that lead by examples are rare. This is the time to show job recruiters that you have this rare quality. Below is a sample response:
Working as a Marketing Manager of a Bank
Leading by example has gotten me the best results so far and through this, I am able to establish a good relationship with my co-workers while working on the project. Whenever a new project starts, I start by demonstrating what must be done and everyone follows suit. I was in charge of a bank marketing team; we went to the market to look for new customers for our bank. I took the lead by speaking to different people about our incredible banking services; when other team members saw what I was doing, they also started playing their role effectively and we got quite a good number of bank customers.
Demonstrate a Time You Delegated Task and Managed Team Members Successfully
Delegated leadership has to do with assigning roles to team members or co-workers. This kind of leadership is very paramount because everyone has their area of strength and weakness and also a leader cannot perform all the roles effectively without assigning other people. This kind of leadership style is very mandatory if the task ahead is large. Job recruiters are looking for a leader that can assign roles to competent team members; this is done after the leader has reviewed their strengths and weaknesses. This kind of leadership is usually common in large companies or enterprises. Below is a sample response:
Working as a Supervisor in a Building Site
I once worked as a supervisor on a construction site, I had a team of over 50 people which was kind of large and I did a brainstorming session and I ended up dividing the team into different departments based on their abilities. I divided the team into different departments; some people were responsible for making bricks while some were responsible for lifting the bricks for building. I also appointed heads of departments for various groups. The result we got was very tremendous as the building project was completed in a very short duration.
Demonstrate a Prior Experience in Taking a Leadership Role Unexpectedly
This will wow interviewers and place you in their good books; by demonstrating a time you took up a leadership role unexpectedly, Interviewers will see that you are born to lead and you have inherent leadership qualities. Below is a sample response:
Working as a Salesperson in a Pharmaceutical Company
I once worked as a salesperson in a large Pharmaceutical company, our sales kept on declining daily and if nothing is done we may go bankrupt. Our Sales Manager asks everyone to come up with solutions on how our sales can increase. I brainstormed; came out with a good idea, I presented it to my co-workers and Sales Manager and everyone appreciated my idea. The Sales Manager gave me a chance to set up my own team of five people. We implemented the idea and the sales of our company improved tremendously. I think my communication skills and my ability to substantiate why I think an idea will work led to the successful outcome of this project.
Use the STAR Interview Technique to Answer the Question
STAR Interview technique helps you to answer the question logically and structurally. It stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Below is a detailed discussion of the STAR Interview Technique:
When you are giving your answer to the job recruiter, first of all, provide a background situation where you carried out a successful leadership role. Also, provide relevant details.
What was your task or the role you played? What was your objective and what were you required to achieve?
This is the most important aspect, how did you perform the task? Tell the job recruiter what you did and why you took that action and why you ignored other alternatives.
There are successful and unsuccessful leadership tasks. Discuss what was the outcome of your actions and how you were able to achieve your objective. It is also good to discuss your overall lesson from the experience.