Interview Coaching
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Competency 5. Leadership

Lesson 7

Even if you are not applying for a leadership role, you might still get questions on leadership. Leadership refers not only to managing others, but also being a strong example for others, and inspiring those around you. And furthermore, how you lead yourself.

• What leadership experience do you?
• What is your leadership style?
• What are your leadership accomplishments? 

Preparing for leadership-focused questions in advance of the interview will help you give strong answers in the moment, and feel confident both before and during the interview. 

How to Answer Interview Questions About Leadership

To prepare for interview questions about leadership, consider the leadership skills that are most important for the job you are interviewing for. Look at the job listing for more information on the type of leader they are looking for, and the types of tasks you will need to perform. 

First, we must uncover what your strongest leadership skills are.

• Communication
• Nonverbal Communication
• Coaching
• Directing Others
• Relationship Building 

Leadership Skills List

• Achievement
• Analytical
• Business Development
• Business Intelligence
• Business Storytelling
• Change Leadership
• Coaching
• Commitment
• Confidence
• Collaborating
• Communication
• Compassion
• Competitive
• Confidence
• Conflict Management
• Conflict Resolution
• Coordination
• Courage
• Creativity
• Creative Thinking
• Critical Thinking
• Decision Making
• Decisiveness
• Delegation
• Directing Others
• Emotional Intelligence
• Engagement
• Enthusiastic
• Entrepreneurial
• Evaluative
• Finance
• Financial Management
• Flexibility
• Goal Setting
• Good Judgment
• Honesty
• Humour
• Influencing Others
• Initiative
• Inspirational
• Interpersonal
• Integrity
• Listening
• Logical Thinking
• Management
• Mediating Problems
• Meeting Management
• Motivation
• Multitasking
• Negotiating
• Networking
• Nonverbal Communication
• Open Minded
• Optimism
• Organisation Strategies
• Passion
• People Development
• Persuasive
• Planning
• Positive Attitude
• Problem Solving
• Producing
• Relationship Building
• Reporting
• Recruiting
• Resourceful
• Respectful
• Results Oriented
• Scheduling
• Self-confidence
• Self-direction
• Self-motivation
• Supportive
• Strategic Change
• Strategic Planning
• Strategy
• Taking Risks
• Team Building
• Teamwork
• Technology
• Transformation
• Verbal Communication
• Vision

As you look through the list, which words and abilities jump at you as ones you feel you may possess?

What stories and examples come to mind when you think of occasions where you used one of these leadership skills.

Thoughtful, relevant anecdotes are often the best way to answer these kinds of questions, particularly when they are behavioural interview questions. These are questions that ask you to provide examples from past work experiences to prove your qualifications for the job at hand. When answering behavioural interview questions about leadership, use the STAR interview response technique:

How to Prepare Leadership Responses

Consider the following four areas of your college life when preparing to answer this type of question:

• Academics
• Campus Life
• Jobs and Internships
• Volunteering

Examples

I was asked by my psychology professor to lead study sessions prior to the final exam. 

My peers selected me as group leader for a major case review project and I was able to delegate tasks and motivate group members. We received an “A” for our presentation. 

As the social chair for my sorority, I convinced members to host a special party as a fundraiser for a local food pantry. I organised a committee of sorority members to solicit donations of food and beverages from local merchants and persuaded all sorority members to sell four $50 tickets to fellow students. We raised €3600, and the successful event motivated members to place a greater emphasis on the community service component of our sorority. 

Examples of Questions to Determine if a Job Candidate Is a Good Leader

Below are the types of questions the interviewer may ask  to assess your skills and experience. 

Examples

You decided to reorganise the department or work unit that you lead. Tell me how you proceeded with the reorganisation? What steps did you follow especially with the employees who work in the department?

Have you ever been a member of a successful team? If so, describe the role that you played on the team and in its success.

Give me an example of a time when you played a leadership role in an event, an activity, a department or work unit, or a project. Describe how you led the efforts.

Think about times when you have had to perform in a leadership role and tell me how people responded to your leadership efforts?

Tell me about a time when you failed. How did it happen? How did you handle it?

Would you rather that your employees respected you or feared you? 

Is there the opportunity in a leadership role to inspire both reactions from your employees? 

Tell me about a time when you created agreement and shared purpose from a situation in which all parties originally differed in opinion, approach, and objectives.

As a leader within an organisation, you must often build support for goals and projects from people who do not report to you and over whom you have no authority. Tell me about a situation in which you demonstrated that you can build the needed support.

In organisations, the direction often comes down the chain of command and so the initiatives you must implement were not developed by you. In fact, you may or may not have had input into their implementation. Tell me about a time when you implemented a required initiative with your staff. How did you go about the implementation?

What are the three most important values you demonstrate as a leader? Tell me a story that demonstrates each of these leadership values in practice within your workplace.

During your work experiences while attending college, tell me about a time when you demonstrated that you have leadership ability and skill.

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