Answering "What Are Your Leadership Examples?" In A Job Interview

"What are your leadership examples?" is a question that just about every person interviewing for a leadership or management position will have to answer.

For most people with a history of leadership, it’s fairly easy to look back at different academic, professional, and volunteer positions that could count as a leadership example. Still, it helps to know a few example answers to base your own answer around.

Let’s explore why interviewers ask this question, what good and bad answers are like, and some great sample answers.

Why Are Interviewers Asking This Question?

The answer is simple: They want to know if they should hire you.

If you’re applying for a leadership position but have no experience in leadership, there aren’t a whole lot of reasons for a company to hire you.

Just as well, your hiring manager will also be looking for answers that align with the position and company in particular. For example, if you are applying for a management position that involves customer service, but you only have leadership examples involving tech support, your hiring manager may use that to segue into “Why do you want to be in this position specifically?”

Related: 6 Underutilized Leadership Skills For The Workplace Or Resume

What Does a Good Answer Look Like?

A really good answer to “What are your leadership experiences?” will involve examples that are recent, impactful, and relevant to the job function you are interviewing for. It isn’t a big deal if you have leadership experience that differs significantly to the job you are applying for. If you can spin it in a way that makes it relevant to the current potential position, your answer will be a good one.

Let’s dive into some good answers that you can use as a template for your own answer to this question, as well as a handful of just plain awful answers to avoid entirely.

What Are Examples Of Leadership Skills

There are a few ways that you can accentuate your leadership abilities. One of them is by utilizing particular skills that are better suited for leaders or managers in business environments. One of the most popular skills is delegation. Though, it's a recommendation that you steer away from that seeing as though it's the most common answer to this interview question. Try one of the following:

8 "What Are Your Leadership Examples?" Example Answers

There are so many good and bad answers to “What are your leadership experience?” Let’s start off by looking at what you should avoid.

4 Examples Of Bad Answers to "What Are Your Leadership Examples?"

“I don’t really have many leadership examples. I didn’t really do any advising stuff in school, didn’t volunteer, and haven’t worked in management or supervision. I just thought starting out in a leadership role for my career would be pretty neat.”

“I personally don’t think I need to have leadership experience in order to qualify for this position. Since this is an entry-level position, I feel like this could be a great opportunity for me to gain some leadership knowledge to apply for future jobs.”

“I was once the staff manager of a local fast food place. I wasn’t particularly great at it because I was having drama issues with the hiring manager. I ended up leaving before I could leave a lasting impact because that guy was so crazy. I haven’t worked in a management position since.”

“I used to manage my father’s video rental store. This was quite a few years ago. I don’t remember much from the experience, to be honest. I remember that the customers were really annoying. My coworkers are okay, but they always wanted me to handle customer disputes. I’m really not that great at delegating or working directly with customers. Regardless, I do have that leadership experience you’re looking for, so I think I would be perfect for this job.”

4 Examples Of Good Answers to "What Are Your Leadership Examples?"

"I don't have a lot of professional leadership experience since I just recently graduated from college. I did, however, fall into a leadership role when I was volunteering with a local women's shelter. I worked with another teacher in a group art class that was designed to teach abused and recovering women on how to express themselves through art. There were a lot of people in the class and the teacher was stretched pretty thin, so I assumed the role of co-teacher when I was originally just supposed to be a lesson and supply assistant. The results were great. All of the women in the group wanted to attend the class next month. Several of the girls there have since gone on to pursue art and going to art school. I'm really happy to have made at least a small impact on my community and want to take my leadership experience and channel it into this position professionally."

“Before I decided to get into the music industry, I worked primarily as a developer in a management position. I was assigned to a very larger group of developers for my previous position. I was responsible for settling disputes, issuing code reviews, time management, and taking care of my team. I was in that position for quite a while, and during my five-year stay with the company, my team managed to complete over a dozen projects. Five of those projects resulted in products that are still being manufactured and sold successfully by the company today. I really enjoyed focusing on goals for both myself and my team. I think working together with the developers and seeing myself as part of the team, rather than just a boss, helped make me a better leader in the long run. I’d love to bring that kind of energy to your company in this studio management position.”

“I recently just completed my degree in engineering. Many of my classes during my last year involved working in a team. I try to really show up as a leader whenever possible because it lets me use opportunities to develop skills in communication, delegating, and managing several tasks and deadlines at once. In one of my senior Physics class, we were divided up into teams of six and had to complete a pretty substantial project throughout the entire end of the semester. My group ended up getting the best grade in the class because I set a deadline early in the project and helped to delegate tasks to people based on their personal and academic strengths. I really love leading and delegating, and I hope to continue leading with these qualities in my professional career.”

“In my last job, I was responsible for managing a team of six, which also included managing all of their schedules, training each of them, and mentoring them. I enjoy being a leader and I am happy to say that three out of these six people were given promotions while I was managing and mentoring them. In my position before that, I managed a team of four writers on various projects. I wasn’t their lead manager, and I mainly did training and more superficial work, but the writers usually reported to me for the projects I was leading. Because of this, I now have a mix of project and content management experience from that position as well as direct management experience from my most recent position. I really enjoy doing both and would love to bring that experience and my skills to this position.”

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams.

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