Job Interview Question and Answers: “What Kind of Leader Are You?”
Why Interviewers Ask About Leadership
When they ask about your leadership methods, interviewers are looking for a response that outlines how your work style and level of ambition will benefit the company. Even if you are applying for a non-managerial position, your response should show that you can take the initiative and get things done on your own when necessary.
Preparing Your Answer
Learning about different leadership styles can help you shape an acceptable answer to this question. The most common leadership styles are:
- Authoritarian Leadership: Maintaining close control over subordinates and telling them what to do
- Participative Leadership: Inviting input from other employees when making decisions
- Delegative Leadership: Assigning tasks to others while providing direction and support
- Transactional Leadership: Using a system of rewards and punishments to motivate workers to complete tasks
- Transformational Leadership: Inspiring passion and commitment to encourage employees to achieve a common goal
Decide which of these styles best describes your own ability to take charge. In an interview, give an example of when you achieved a positive result using that form of leadership.
What Not to Say When Responding to “What is Your Leadership Style?”
Avoid mentioning your lack of job-related leadership skills and experience. If you must, refer to a situation from your school days or your personal life to demonstrate your ability to take control. Also, be sure to steer clear of responses that make you sound rigid and overbearing in your approach to leadership.
Sample Answers to “What Kind of Leader Are You?”
Answering questions about your leadership abilities can be daunting, especially if you lack experience. These examples can give you an idea of what managers are looking for when they ask, “What is your style of leadership?”
Sample Job 1- Grocery Store Manager
“My leadership style is delegative. In previous jobs, I’ve had success with assigning tasks based on each employee’s strengths. Whenever I had a lull in my duties, I would help any workers who were struggling or lagging behind a bit. This divide-and-conquer strategy allowed our team to cover more ground and accomplish our goals each day.”
Sample Job 2- Bookseller at a Book Store
“When I was in high school, I would lead a lot of group projects. I would always ask my group members if they had any ideas or suggestions on how to do our best. I think that type of leadership is helpful because it ensures that everyone feels included in the decision-making process. Also, it opens the floor for innovative ideas that I may not have thought of on my own.”
Sample Job 3- Construction Worker
“I used to work in a restaurant, and I would sometimes take the lead when I was working through a lunch rush with less-experienced cooks. I would rally the team and boost their confidence by telling them what a great job they were doing during those stressful moments. That always seemed to lift their spirits and motivate them to succeed.”
Whether you are applying for an entry-level job or a management position, your interviewer may ask, “What is your style of leadership?” Respond with a summary of how you typically take charge and give examples from your past to prove your approach works. Your response should show that you can take the lead when it is appropriate but that you still view yourself as part of a team.
This was a good answer. You’ll notice she did more than say yes. She detailed an experience where she was given leadership responsibilities and wraps it up by briefly mentioning how she grew from the experience. Oftentimes with this question, interviewers want to see a direct line of thinking for how you lead others. In this next clip, watch how the interviewee describes methods he utilizes to influence others.
If you show that you have some leadership experience and describe the tactics you use to lead others, you’ll ace this question.