How to Answer: "Tell Me about Your Leadership Experience in the Workplace"
When an interviewer asks you to tell her about your leadership experience, it’s important to have an answer ready. If you stutter at this question, you’re automatically putting yourself at a disadvantage when it comes to convincing the interviewer you’re a strong, confident leader. After all, it’s not just what you say but how you say it that’s going to show off your capabilities. If you already know how you’re going to respond, you’ll have an advantage in both content and presentation. Here are some options you can use as a foundation to craft a response suited to you and your particular leadership experience.
1. “My leadership experience is informal, yet abundant.”
If you haven’t that much formal leadership experience in the workplace, this is the response that can turn a negative into a positive. In fact, sometimes the idea that a candidate has taken on leadership responsibilities even though he is not technically in a leadership position can be more impressive than an official leadership role. If this is the position you’re in, point out that it takes a genuine self-starter to lead without formal recognition or extra pay, then give some examples of how you’ve excelled in a leadership role by inspiring and guiding others even when it wasn’t technically part of your job.
2. “My leadership experience has helped me—and others—grow.”
If you have little to moderate official leadership experience, this is the type of answer that will get you to the second interview. While employers want leaders with experience and confidence, they also want to know the candidate is an open-minded individual who’s always willing to learn. A leader who thinks she has all the answers isn’t going to impress anyone. Good leaders are willing to evolve by listening to others and learning from past mistakes.
You can gain a lot more favor with your interviewer if you provide examples of how you’ve grown throughout your leadership journey. Let him know you’re not perfect, but you are always working towards excellence and self-improvement. At the same, time, make sure to mention you’ve helped your followers develop by being a trusted mentor and leading by example.
3. “I’ve been cultivating my leadership style for many years, which is reflected in my record of success.”
This is the type of response someone with advanced leadership experience should consider. It shows you have a long history of formal leadership and have also made the most of your skills. As always, providing specific examples is an excellent way to show the interviewer you’re not making empty promises. You may think your success record speaks for itself, but the reality is, it still needs your voice to do it justice. If you have the evidence to back up your claims, draw attention to it. Did you make your company X amount of dollars last year? Did you have the lowest rate of turnover out of all the departments in the organization? Have you been promoted multiple times? This is the kind of information that tells your interviewer your background is truly meaningful.
Whether you have yet to take on a leadership role, have some leadership experience, or have an extensive background in governance, there is a way to answer the “tell me about your leadership” question that is both sincere and impressive. The suggestions given here can be used as guidelines to help you develop the best response for you. Above all, remember to give examples, provide evidence, and master the art of walking the fine line between confidence and humility.