One of the most common interview questions is ‘Do you have leadership skills?’ The wording might shift a little from one employer to the next- but that particular question has become so popular- it is even starting to pop up on job applications sometimes- and not always applications for jobs that entail a lot of direct supervision of others or formal authority.
You might think that leadership questions are only relevant for management positions, but that’s a common misconception. Most companies are looking for people with leadership potential even when hiring for entry-level positions.
Discuss a moment or two where you really stepped into an organizational role- and use descriptive and easily identifiable words to characterize both your choices and your choice of presentation to your teammates. When preparing to give this kind of answer- it is best to keep it brief by choosing anecdotes that demonstrate your point as clearly as possible- because the style is clearest and most effective when your answer stays between thirty seconds and a minute.
When brainstorming the situation you want to describe the ways your leadership skills made a difference. Think about how to highlight multiple skills with a single example or how to skip between a couple of clear examples if that is not possible. The key is to keep things concise so your answer moves forward quickly.
What exactly are “leadership skills”?
Well, in the basic dictionary sense, “leadership” just means leading a group of people or an organization. However, most people see true leadership as something that goes beyond just managing people and projects.
Taking initiative, communicating a vision, translating vision into reality, inspiring others, making tough decisions, motivating others, empowering others, developing others.
As you describe your leadership skills try to choose examples and words that mirror the corporate values of the company you are interviewing with. This demonstrates that your approach to leadership and the problem-solving roles that come with it are going to suit well with the company’s needs. It also helps you practice finding ways to naturally fit your skills and approach to employer expectations which makes transitioning into a potential job easier after hire.
Those values mission statements and other artifacts of corporate culture are important because they communicate that company’s identity, so showing that you are paying attention to them goes a long way. Remember- they ask these leadership interview questions for a reason!
By really reflecting on all of your previous leadership experiences, you’ll be able to demonstrate your leadership experience in an interview situation.