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Career Development Tips

Best Ways To Answer Interview Questions About Your Leadership Skills

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated June 29, 2021

Guide Overview

What is leadership?Why do employers ask about leadership?How to explain the ways you demonstrate leadershipExample responses to the question 'how do you demonstrate leadership?'

Guide Overview

Understanding the importance of showing leadership qualities

Hiring managers often ask questions about your leadership skills during a job interview to understand what kind of contributions you can make to the company and how you handle yourself on the job. Providing a strong answer to a question regarding ways you demonstrate leadership at work is important to establish yourself as a competitive candidate for the position. Learn why interviewers ask how you show leadership qualities, learn how to effectively answer questions about your leadership, and see some example responses to help you prepare for this typical question. 

What is leadership?

Leadership is the act of providing guidance, direction, and motivation to those around you to help reach a goal or objective. Having strong leadership skills, whether in a managerial role or not, can help you work efficiently and influence those around you to produce quality work as well.

Learn more: Find a new job by starting your search here!

Why do employers ask about leadership?

Leadership is an extremely valuable skill in the workplace. Although many of the soft skills needed to be a successful leader are skills that can be acquired through practice and attention, having some of the characteristics of a strong leader can indicate to a hiring manager that you are a strong candidate. Hiring managers know that leaders are needed at every level within an organization and may ask interview questions about your leadership qualities or how you have demonstrated strong leadership. Your answer to this question can reveal how dedicated you are to your industry and show how well you will fit in with the culture of the company. Additionally, your leadership capabilities show your ability to think critically and problem solve.

How to explain the ways you demonstrate leadership

A hiring manager wants to hear your first-hand account of ways you demonstrate leadership at work to gain an understanding of the type of employee you will be. It’s important to provide an authentic answer with details that support your main assertion and reveal your values and work ethic. This question about how you demonstrate leadership in the workplace and other behavioral questions allows you to showcase your strongest attributes and prove yourself a good fit for the position and company.

Use the steps below to help you prepare and deliver your own unique answer to the question ‘how do you demonstrate leadership at work?’

  1. Review the official job description. Revisit the company website and reread the posted job description. Select keywords from the job description necessary to fulfilling the roles and responsibilities of the position.
  2. Understand the company culture, values, and mission. Conduct some research about the company to determine what values they hold. This can be revealed in the non-profit organizations they have donated to or the fundraisers they host. Visit their social media pages, web site, and search outside media sources. If they participated in a fundraiser for a local animal shelter you may determine that they value animal welfare, goodwill, building strong and healthy relationships. Additionally, if they make donations to the local library or bookmobile they place a high value on literacy and education.
  3. Identify your areas of strength. Evaluate your own skillset to determine transferable skills and leadership skills you already possess from previous experience that can help differentiate you from others competing for the same position.
  4. Determine relevant skills related to the job description. Compare the responsibilities of the job to your leadership qualities and see which skills are relevant to the demands of the position. Focus on those specific skills when formulating your own response.
  5. Explain what you value in leadership. Detail the valuable characteristics of good leadership and how it’s linked to the success the organization is already experiencing.
  6. Provide a structured example. Relate a time you showed leadership that helped you or your team succeed. Whenever possible, state this anecdote with relevant details with quantifiable information. Consider using the STAR technique to help format your response. STAR is an acronym that stands for situation, task, action, and results. Share the situation including the important details and task you were responsible for, the specific actions you took to accomplish that task, and quantify your results using any applicable data and percentages.
  7. Reveal how you’ll apply your leadership skills. Explain how your particular leadership quality can be applied in different relevant situations to help you succeed and meet the demands of the position you seek.

Example responses to the question 'how do you demonstrate leadership?'

Use the following examples to help you formulate your own unique response and highlight your qualities and abilities.

Example #1: Sales associate

I feel that one of the most crucial aspects of strong leadership is excellent communication skills. In my previous position, I was tasked with training another employee after only having worked for the company for two months. Although I still had a lot to learn, she and I learned together and I realized that I had a lot to teach others as well. We got through the experience together and were able to talk through any issues and find answers to questions we had by working together and being clear. 

I recall one experience where we had to facilitate a merchandise exchange for a customer and our manager, who usually handles the exchanges, was out to lunch. Rather than have the customer waiting, we used our company manual and found the appropriate codes and processes to use. The customer was satisfied, we followed company procedure, and we didn’t have to interrupt our manager’s lunch. Having the ability to really listen to others and express yourself clearly is a skill that is especially helpful when working with customers and I look forward to helping increase customer satisfaction any time I have the opportunity. 

Example #2: Marketing manager

I think one of the most effective aspects of good leadership is the ability to encourage and motivate others. Last year when I was working with my team, we had to reevaluate a strategy that wasn’t necessarily performing the way we intended. Everyone was discouraged and we felt like we had hit a wall. Rather than increase anxiety and frustration, I decided we take a step back and treated everyone to lunch. We sat and discussed some notable campaigns of the past and the individual aspects that led to their success. 

By relaxing and revisiting effective strategies, we were able to focus back on the current campaign and applied what we had discussed over lunch to our brainstorming session. With our creative team, we revamped the campaign at minimal cost and saw an 8% increase in sales for the product. Helping my team relax was the motivation we all needed to contribute new ideas into a campaign that needed help. Working as a marketing manager I have found that when we focus more on the people around us the products and campaigns are a success because the team feels valued. 

Example #3: Computer engineer

As a computer engineer, there are a lot of people that depend on my skills and knowledge to help them perform their jobs appropriately. One thing a good leader exhibits is the ability to work collaboratively and problem solve. At my previous company, I was paired with another engineer and it was my responsibility to proof code. It was a difficult thing for me to do because she had more experience and followed a meticulous process. 

One thing I always look for is readability and after many hours I found an area where we could simplify. We talked about it and were able to find the best approach. The code worked about 20% more efficiently with the alterations. I excel at working with others and find that the best work comes when there are many people who can contribute and lend their expertise.

Example #4: Executive assistant

Organization is essential to quality leadership. When I first joined my previous place of employment I found the office and personnel to be in disarray due to an inability to hire for some time. I quickly filed, arranged, and rearranged as much as I could. I also transitioned most primary documents to digital formats and created a uniform method to follow-up with clients and secure appointments. Next, I helped to create an in-house method of communication through weekly emails to keep everyone informed about company policy, deadlines, and accolades. This helped increase employee productivity by 16% and improved overall morale as indicated in employee surveys. I can bring my unique system of organization to support already established procedures. 

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