Answering "What Is Your Leadership Style?" In A Job Interview
“What is your leadership style?” or “How do you like to lead others?” is a hard question to answer in an interview. In the interview context, these questions aim to delve deeper into the team leading and personal guidance characteristics of a candidate. Any corporate position demands particular skills to handle the tasks involved. Your skills and experience would have been enough to award you the job if it was only about working alone. In a company, employees with different roles and duties, collectively work towards a common goal. Thus, interaction becomes an integral part of the work culture for the employees to work in unison without issues. The employees have to be in constant communication with each other to perform their role in the system.
Individuals need to be competent in this regard. If an employee is efficient at their work but fails to communicate regarding their work with the respective personnel or groups, it just defeats the whole purpose.
Becasue of this, companies test the candidates in this regard to assess their suitability for the relevant position. Questions about leadership are a part of this personality assessment. But, then again, a question might arise in your mind – isn’t citing about leadership enough, why there’s the need to know about my leadership style?
Let’s address this concern on the hiring managers behalf.
The need to know about leadership style
Leadership is an act of influencing and guiding individuals. Though some roles actively demand this quality in a person, leadership is not something limited to specific roles. Think about your last job. There must have been a time you had to work with a group for some project. In such instances, you must have found yourself or someone else taking responsibility, dividing tasks and looking after the team as a whole.
Think about your time in school or college. For projects, your teacher must have divided the entire class into groups of four or five students. These groups would be having someone leading the group irrespective of whether a leader has been assigned or not.
As you can see, leadership is not constrained to job titles. It is a personality trait that makes people take control of situations and guide others. Then again, there are variations in leadership styles that you need to be aware of.
Variations in leadership styles
Leadership is about steering others through a situation. There are different ways in which a person can lead others. Some leaders do the things first to let people have confidence and follow them (i.e., leading by example) while some either promote communication to make messages and duties clear (i.e., leading by communication) or delegate tasks based on an individual’s strengths (i.e., leading by delegation).
Broadly, there are two types of leadership – active, passive and hybrid.
Active leadership makes leaders take the initiative and pull the team from the front. This type of leadership makes things go past the leader first who then takes actions, guiding others.
Leading by example is a form of active leadership.
Passive leadership focuses on providing support to the group. Rather than actively driving the team, passive leaders lead from the back, making members realize their responsibilities and ensuring they complete them.
Leading by delegation is a form of passive leadership.
Hybrid leadership combines both, active and passive leadership qualities, leading from the front while also supporting when necessary. This leadership style demands the most of out of the leaders.
Leading by communication is a form of hybrid leadership.
Coming back to the question – why do they need to know about leadership style?
As you see, there are variations in how leaders operate within a group. Knowing about your leadership style lets the interviewer know how you are going to affect the day-to-day tasks within the organization. It allows them to see if you suit the method of work approach they are looking for in employees. Besides, letting the interviewers know about your leadership style dictates your career path within the company up to a certain extent.
Concerning any company, you are not going to work there for a day. You will be present there in the long term. Becasue of this, the company has to care for its future and assess, considering you as a long-term asset. Employees make a company; thus, they look for the required leadership qualities in candidates to align with the company ethics.
That should help answer your need to know about leadership styles.
Next, let’s see how to answer questions about leadership styles.
How to answer: the simple 2-step formula
Answering the question “What is your leadership style?” becomes simple if you take care of the following two aspects:
• Know your leadership style
• Elaborate your leadership style with the result
You need to know how you like to lead others and have concrete evidence in results supporting your claim of leadership qualities.
Firmly understand your leadership style
Before you talk about your leadership qualities, you first need to figure out what kind of leader you are. Else how would you explain something you know nothing about? Once you get acquainted with your leadership style, half of the task is done.
But, there might be some of you out there, not having much idea about how you like to lead. For those people, the best thing to do in this regard is to talk with friends and family. Discuss with them how you act around; it should give you some idea about the type of leader you are.
Elaborate on your leadership style with results
Now equipped with the necessary info, when posed with the question about leadership style, you can speak about it. Tell the interviewer how you like to influence and guide others in a group. Also, your statements should include the results of your leadership, i.e., describe how your leadership style affected the outcome.
Speaking about something and doing it are two different things. In interviews, citing results concerning your leadership style lets the interviewer know that you can act on your beliefs and principles of leadership to achieve the desired consequences.
That’s all it takes to answer the question about leadership style.
Other aspects or components to leadership style questions in interviews
Saying you lack leadership.
When asked, never say "I'm not a leader" or "I lack leadership qualities." To get the job, you have to provide what the company wants. As discussed earlier, leadership isn't confined to specific job titles; it could be demanded in any corporate situation to accomplish tasks. So, never say you lack leadership; it reduces the probability of getting hired. You have to find some instance highlighting your leadership abilities to make your case and have a chance of being in contention for the available position.
Having a reliable strategy to perform and stating that you do.
When you talk about your leadership skills, you also need to talk about an approach that you use to help in this regard. Saying "I tend to lead by example" is fine; however, you have to elaborate the exact details of how you do so. Here are some examples:
"I tend to lead by example. Instead of letting others figure out the problem, I take responsibility and put effort into understanding the situation and the problem. After I'm acquainted with the issues and circumstance, I try to come up with a solution and show others the exact steps to follow to resolve the issue collectively."
"I have a passive leadership style. After getting to know the issue, I work to find a solution. Once I get the right solution, I divide it into smaller tasks based on the group members. I consider the strengths of the group members and delegate tasks accordingly."
Both of the above examples not only tell about your style but also how you approach and accomplish the task - this should be the theme of your response.
Being honest about leadership style
Leadership style varies from person to person. There's no issue if you are a passive leader while your friend leads from the front. It is about finding your authentic leadership style and advocating for it. Do not make false claims and try to stand for it. Interviewers are professionals at picking up lies; thus, avoid lying if you want the job.
Preparing for your future interviews
There are a few essential things that you need to take care of when getting yourself ready for interviews. Here's some insight into that aspect.
Prepare yourself to know about the company
At some point in interviews, the interviewer might ask if you have any questions for them. It is a way for them to assess your interest in the position and the company, so use the opportunity wisely.
Therefore, before the interview, acquire information about the organization from various sources, be it about their motto, sales number or some other aspect of their business strategy. Make sure the information is accurate and your questions genuine. Your response or queries related to the company should not feel like a formality; there should be true intentions of knowing or discussing things.
A good question to ask would be something like “What are some challenges that the company currently faces?”
Alternatively, you could use the information you receive during the interview to pose a question.
Let’s say the interviewer mentioned something about providing feedback; you can use this information to pose questions like "How do you provide negative feedback?"
Companies don’t hire individuals that aren’t curious about them. Your curiosity is not only a sign of interest but also an indication of intent to be prepared for any occasion. Having an interest and doing something related to it are two different things.
You have higher chances of getting hired if you show your eagerness to work for the concerned organization than an individual who shows no signs of interest in the company. Thus, expressing your willingness and enthusiasm to be a part of the organization reflects positively on your case, strengthening the chances of getting hired.
Prepare for the in-person interview
Being prepared for an interview meeting lets you consider all possible aspects of being assessed for the job – thus, diminishing the uncertainty involved in the process up to some extent.
The following elements are vital when preparing for interviews:
Presenting facts and information.
In meetings, you have to be adept at presenting any info. Also, the information you intend to use has to be accurate. Take your time, research properly and rely on trustable sources. If you lack knowledge in some regards, admit the fact but do not bluff.
Body language, confidence and speech (communication).
How you speak and sit during the meet also influences your chances of getting hired. Thus, practice proper posture and expression in front of a mirror. You could also take the help of friends and relatives to conduct mock interviews. Practice and develop your speech and improve your body language to have a successful meeting.
Even how you dress affects the outcome of your interview. How you have dressed up is the first thing that an interviewer notices about you. If the interviewer feels disappointed with your dressing sense, there is a high probability of you not being considered for the job.
Therefore, ensure your clothes are clean and pressed. If necessary, buy new pairs. Make sure your shoes are clean and polished. Have proper haircut and a clean shave. Females should ensure their hair is washed and appropriately tied in place. Concerning the type of wear, there could be a difference between companies, but the primary aim of dressing for you is to look neat.
Pack according to the occasion
When it comes to the essentials for an interview, the list only consists of a few things mentioned below:
• Resume (original along with multiple copies)
• References (with name, designation, company, contact information and a brief description about your relation)
• A writing pad (for making notes or referring to your prepared notes)
• A pen
Apart from these few things, you could pack any other stuff that is a necessity for you (water bottle or mouth freshener). Avoid clutter and be organized in this regard.
Final words on leadership questions in interviews
Questions about your leadership style are to assess your leadership quality further, what kind of leader you are. Leadership styles can be classified into three types: active, passive and hybrid. The difference in all the leadership styles is the variation in the approach of leader to problems and how they guide others. Letting the interviewer know about your leadership style helps to assess how you shall fit in the company. Besides, it also defines your career path within the company. We hope to have helped you with answering questions about leadership style with this article. If you are wanting to prepare for your interview in more detail see our leadership interview questions guide. Be sure to prepare with other unique interview questions like, "What Makes You Unique?"
Related interview questions
If you are looking for related interview questions, the following should be helpful:
What are your leadership examples
What do you know about our company
How did you hear about this position
Tell me about a time you failed
What motivates you
What makes you unique What interests you about this position
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