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Common Interview Questions

To help you prepare for your next job interview, here are 30 common interview questions and answer examples.

Common was written by and updated on January 8th, 2022. Learn more here.

Question 3 of 30

Describe your leadership skills.

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Advice and Examples: Describe your leadership skills.

  1. 3.

    Describe your leadership skills.

      The Goal

      The interviewer wants to know which skills make you a stand-out leader. They also want to see that you bring a passion for leadership. The goal of your response is to highlight the skills that showcase your ability and desire to be a positive person of influence in the workplace.

      What to Avoid

      Avoid overlooking the importance of possessing leadership skills. Even if you are not applying for a formal leadership position, it's still an expectation that you act like a leader in the workplace. Regardless of your job title, be prepared to discuss the skills that showcase your ability to be a role model for others.

      Pro Tip

      Author and speaker Simon Sinek says: 'Leading is not the same as being the leader. Being the leader means you hold the highest rank, either by earning it, good fortune, or navigating internal politics. Leading, however, means that others willingly follow you--not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to.'

      With this definition of leadership in mind, take some time to think about how you influence others because you want to, not because you have to. Perhaps you are skilled at motivating and encouraging others, or maybe you are a person with a lot of creativity whom others want to learn from. Maybe your leadership superpower is empathy or even decisiveness.

      How to Answer

      Go to your interview prepared with examples of when you have been a proactive leader. If this is an entry-level role without a leadership component, the interviewer will still want to see that you can take the initiative when there is an opportunity.

      If you're having a hard time thinking of which leadership skills you possess, consider this list of skills and qualities:

      - Accountability
      - Active Listening
      - Creativity
      - Critical Thinking
      - Decisiveness
      - Delegation
      - Emotional Intelligence
      - Empathy
      - Integrity
      - Motivational
      - Patient
      - Positivity

      Choose 2-3 leadership skills that describe you best, and be prepared to give an example of these qualities in action.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I have an open, enthusiastic style of leadership. A leader should want to nurture others to their fullest potential, something I have enjoyed most of my career. I strive to be an example for others to follow and help guide people to better themselves and improve their career trajectory. By emulating these leadership qualities, I have found that my teammates aren't afraid to bring me their questions or most significant challenges. They know I am here to help them and am always willing to collaborate to find a solution."

      Rachelle's Admin Example Answer

      "As a Director of Account Administration, I live by the open-door leadership model. I remember how hard things could be when I started my career. Remembering the challenge, I give our account administrators space and freedom to complete their work while always leaving the conversation open for brainstorming, giving guidance, and providing advice. I genuinely want to see my team members grow and succeed."

      Rachelle's Manager Example Answer

      "My leadership style can be described as creative, open, and encouraging. For instance, I strive to do what I can to foster an environment conducive to my team members' learning and growth. I find that by leading this way, I retain staff much longer, and productivity increases."

      Rachelle's Sales Example Answer

      "In previous performance reviews, my leadership style has been described as attentive, open, and confident. I listen to my team members and give them the room to perform their jobs well. For example, when one of my team members is not hitting their quota, I will step in and begin coaching. I want to believe they are capable of their job unless they show me otherwise. This leadership approach has worked well with my team, and as a result, we are the top sales team in our region."

      Rachelle's Retail Example Answer

      "When it comes to leadership, I think of myself as a coach. My role is to help the retail sales reps flourish. Each team member has unique strengths and weaknesses that I help them identify and then improve. Every team member learns differently, so I try to understand their needs, what motivates them, and how they like to learn."

      Rachelle's Teacher Example Answer

      "My most vital leadership skills include empathy, creativity, and adaptability. These skills are beneficial for me as a teacher since they help me to see each student as a unique individual while introducing new and creative ways to draw out the natural strengths in each of my students. Since my first year as an educator, I have participated in a local student/teacher mentorship program. This program has helped me hone my leadership skills while adapting to a wide variety of student needs."

      Rachelle's Marketing Example Answer

      "I strive to do the right thing and hope that others will follow my example. Although I have yet to work in an official leadership position, I feel that my commitment to adaptability and innovation has made a positive impact on the team members around me."

      21 Community Answers

      Anonymous interview answers with our interview experts feedback

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "I feel I have an open and enthusiastic style of leadership. To me, a leader wants to nurture others to their fullest potential, and it is something I have enjoyed since childhood. I love to be an example to follow and help guide others to bettering themselves and their careers. I've found that my teammates aren't afraid to bring me their questions or mess-ups, since they aren't afraid of repercussions, but rather know we will collaborate to figure it out and learn from it together."

      Rachelle's Feedback for the Answer Above

      This answer and shows what type of leadership style you prefer, but doesn't quite address your leadership skills. I would suggest giving examples of some leadership roles you have had and the skills you gained. If you mention a skill you've used since childhood (a bold statement and one that is overused) then back it up with facts.

      "I am an open and enthusiastic leader. I strive to be a leader who nurtures others to their fullest potential. This trait is one I have carried since childhood when I would spend my time teaching the neighborhood kids how to improve their reading skills! I consider myself a positive example for others, helping to guide them to better career moves and further successes. My teammates aren't afraid to bring their mistakes to me, knowing I will collaborate with them to learn together."

      How would you rate Rachelle's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "I feel I am an attentive and open leader. I believe that communication is very important. I try to encourage performance by nurturing and mentoring team members."

      Rachelle's Feedback for the Answer Above

      It sounds as though you have some excellent leadership skills! If you have leadership-specific training, this is an excellent opportunity to discuss.

      How would you rate Rachelle's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "I am the lead design intern for the Design office at my university. I manage new interns every year and I have been able to teach and guide two so far to create a smooth running office of design. I am also the lead researcher for my research group, leading and instructing the other team members on what is to be expected of them and to promote collaboration. Finally, I also worked as a student supervisor, managing 10-15 students at a time, delegating tasks and answering any questions."

      Rachelle's Feedback for the Answer Above

      Perfection! Love this response! I have reworded slightly, for clarification.

      "Currently, I am the lead design intern USC's design office. I manage new interns every year, with an approach of guidance and mentorship. I have been able to create an office that runs very smoothly. I am also the lead researcher for my research group, instructing three other team members on next steps so that we can smoothly collaborate and meet our deadlines. Finally, I work as a student supervisor, managing up to 15 students at a time, answering questions and delegating tasks."

      How would you rate Rachelle's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "I enjoy being positive, efficient, and accountable. What I have noticed is people will naturally follow my lead, even when I am not in charge, I still thrive as leading projects and everyday tasks. I attribute this to my communication skills and problem-solving skills, as well as my work ethic."

      Chad's Feedback for the Answer Above

      Great response; it sounds like you are a natural leader who leads by example. My only suggestion would be changing the language slightly to directly answer the question posed by the interviewer. In the "Revised Answer" box, I have suggested a way you can restate your answer slightly.

      "The leadership skills I pride myself on are being positive, efficient, and accountable. What I have noticed over the course of my career is people will naturally follow my lead. Even when I am not the one in charge, I still thrive on leading projects and everyday tasks. I attribute this to my strong communication skills, my problem-solving skills, as well as my work ethic."

      How would you rate Chad's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "The main traits of leadership I feel are accountability, communication, and problem-solving. With accountability I am able to complete projects on time through proper time management skills and prioritizing tasks, this shows I can plan out a project and delegate tasks to other team members. With communication, I know how to emphasize the other person's point of view and compromise it with mine. As well as being able to understand tough or vague requirements. Finally, I have a step-by-step way of problem-solving by recognizing a problem, identifying its cause, and actioning a solution. That is what makes other team members look up to you in a work setting and more importantly, doing it in a positive patient way."

      Amanda's Feedback for the Answer Above

      Excellent! Accountability, communication, and problem-solving are valuable leadership skills in any setting. You've also made sure to explain why each one makes your leadership better. You can enhance this answer further by briefly talking about an example that illustrates how you successfully used these skills to complete a project on time and within scope while maintaining a positive team environment.

      How would you rate Amanda's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "I have an open, enthusiastic, and very adaptive style of leadership."

      Amanda's Feedback for the Answer Above

      It sounds like you enjoy a collaborative, team-oriented environment. You can strengthen this answer by sharing a specific example of how your leadership helped your team maintain momentum, achieve a goal, or overcome an obstacle to completing a project on time and within budget.

      How would you rate Amanda's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "I am the charge nurse on midnights whenever I work. My coworkers tell me that they like to work for me because I'm not a perfectionist and I'm laid back."

      Amanda's Feedback for the Answer Above

      Your role as a charge nurse is a setting for discussing your leadership skills. Rather than describing yourself as laid back or not a perfectionist, which may come across as hands-off, consider telling the interviewer that you're good at delegating, helping others to challenge themselves, and building their skill sets. If possible, give an example that shows how your style of leadership improved team performance or patient care.

      How would you rate Amanda's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "I lead by example, I prefer everyone be allowed to input suggestions to get a project done as smoothly as possible. By letting everyone have a say, it is easier to delegate individual tasks to those with matching skills."

      Amanda's Feedback for the Answer Above

      You've answered well! Consider listing specific skills you possess as a leader and building on your answer by telling about a specific project or situation that utilized those skills.

      How would you rate Amanda's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "I always try to lead by example and with humility. I'm not perfect and I try to make sure when things don't always go as planned, lessons are learned and the same mistakes are not made twice."

      Stephanie's Feedback for the Answer Above

      These are great leadership qualities to have, but I suggest making your response more specific. Can you share a specific example or two of how your leadership skills present in the workplace? When was the last time you led by example and with humility? What was the situation?

      How would you rate Stephanie's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "My leadership skills would be creative encouraging and open. I lead by example and do the right thing and hope others will follow."

      Stephanie's Feedback for the Answer Above

      These are positive qualities, but I suggest strengthening this response by sharing a specific example. You mentioned being creative and encouraging; can you think of a specific instance when this occurred in your work?

      How would you rate Stephanie's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "My leadership skills are I can take advantage of everyone's personality and skills to make sure everyone is in the right position. There was a group project in the university and I was the leader. I invited all team members together and ask their opinion about tasks. After discussion, I assigned the task depending on their interest and skills. Finally, we finished the project successfully and achieved a high score."

      Marcie's Feedback for the Answer Above

      These are great leadership skills to have! Not everyone is able to identify the right people for the right roles according to their strengths and then delegate based on those conclusions. The interviewer will likely be impressed. Excellent answer!

      How would you rate Marcie's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "My leadership skills can be described as "¢ I have a proactive attitude "¢ Delegates task to my staff "¢ Approachable "¢ Decisive "¢ Critical thinker---- great problem-solving skills "¢ great listener and communicator --------------- for instance, as a Critical thinker---- great problem-solving skills and decision-maker. Once my coordinator was conducting a patient visit in an IBS-D clinical trial and that visit requires an ECG, if the patient has some specific abnormality then ECG needs to be repeated, and study medication needed to be stopped by Investigator. So, both the ECGs were abnormal and unfortunately, Investigator was not available at that time. The coordinator came to me and ask for the resolution. I discussed the whole scenario and called the Investigator but had no response, I left the detailed message and decided not to give study medications until the investigator's response. After a few minutes Investigator called and discussed the whole scenario. Investigator appreciated my decision and discontinue the patient from the clinical trial and instructed me to further evaluate the patient by a cardiologist."

      Stephanie's Feedback for the Answer Above

      This response clearly outlines your leadership skills, complete with a specific example. My only suggestion for improvement is to add a brief closing sentence to wrap your thoughts up and connect back to the theme of leadership skills.

      How would you rate Stephanie's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "I have an open, enthusiastic style of leadership. To me, a leader wants to nurture others to their fullest potential, and that is something I have enjoyed doing most of my life. I enjoy it so much I became a dairy feeder superintendent for the local fair. I love to be an example for others to follow and help guide people toward bettering themselves and improving their career. I've found that my teammates aren't afraid to bring me their questions or most significant challenges since they know we will collaborate to figure it out and learn from the situation together."

      Stephanie's Feedback for the Answer Above

      Excellent response; this shows that you've given considerable thought to your leadership style, and you're able to provide specific examples to back up your statements.

      How would you rate Stephanie's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "My leadership skills can be described as creative, open, and encouraging. I am always open to hearing someone out. In fact, I encourage my team to contribute any thoughts they believe could benefit our objectives. If the team develops the plan together, they'll likely be more invested in the execution of that plan, increasing the likelihood for success."

      Rachelle's Feedback for the Answer Above

      It sounds like you are an ideal leader that many personality types would enjoy working with. This question is an excellent opportunity to discuss the ways that your leadership skills match the culture of the hiring company.

      How would you rate Rachelle's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "I feel I am open, enthusiastic, and calm in pressure situations. To me, a leader is someone who is an example to the team that they are leading. Since childhood, I have always wanted to work in a leadership position and be as subtle as possible but as effective where I can get work done."

      Rachelle's Feedback for the Answer Above

      A strong, calm force - leading a team. You paint a nice picture of leadership in your response.

      How would you rate Rachelle's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "I am an authentic leader - self-aware, I know my strengths and limitations - I am curious - seeking out new opportunities to meet goals. Transparent, I am honest and straightforward with colleagues - no hidden agendas or game playing. I am fairminded - I listen to all viewpoints before taking a course of action - not impulsive. Ultimately my leadership style is to do the right thing - driven by an ethical core. My leadership style has given me the capacity to translate organizational goals into delivery."

      Rachelle's Feedback for the Answer Above

      You offer up some great descriptors, and you support these skills in an interesting way.

      How would you rate Rachelle's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "Overall I would consider my leadership style to be executing. I am driven and will push people who want to grow to do better, I take ownership over my team as the leader I am responsible for its actions, and I know who is on my team and how to use their strengths and weaknesses to help the team. The second part of my leadership style is ever-changing as I am always looking to learn, and I understand that everyone is different, and you need to tailor your approach to that person."

      Rachelle's Feedback for the Answer Above

      You sound like a very active, engaged leader. Your answer will help the interviewer to have full faith in your capabilities!

      How would you rate Rachelle's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "First of all, I'm quite a hands-off manager. For instance, if my team has a project, I'll keep an eye on things, but I don't need to be involved in every detail. I am also very approachable in that I'll make sure that my team knows they can come to me with any questions or problems at any time. I like to lead from the front. That means that if everyone is working late to meet the deadline, I make sure I'm there with them."

      Rachelle's Feedback for the Answer Above

      With your hands-off management style, be sure that you are using the same language and approach that this organization is desiring. It's great that you do not micromanage; however, you may want to sound more involved in offering feedback and guiding the team.

      How would you rate Rachelle's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "I've never been a leader in my group, but if given, I would lead by example."

      Lauren's Feedback for the Answer Above

      It would be helpful to embrace career growth in leadership with Kaiser.

      "I have yet to be placed in a leadership role, but I possess many untapped leadership skills and qualities. I am hopeful for career growth in this area within Kaiser."

      How would you rate Lauren's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "I look for opportunities to be an assertive leader in my role by setting examples, whether it be as a mail handler, a processor, a route delivery person, or a window clerk."

      Kristine's Feedback for the Answer Above

      Great answer! The interviewer will have a clear idea of how you lead. You may want to expand on your response by listing some attributes and how people respond to your leadership. I reworded your response, including items you mentioned in another answer.

      "I lead by example. Setting high standards for myself challenges others to work at a higher level too. I am friendly and open, which makes people feel comfortable coming to me to ask for advice, directions, guidance, and instructions."

      How would you rate Kristine's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "I would describe my leadership skills as strategic, visionary, and inclusive. When leading others, I seek to put together a plan which is informed by the knowledge of understanding everyone on the team and allows each of them to play a key role in its execution as much as possible."

      Rachelle's Feedback for the Answer Above

      This answer is exactly what the interviewer would love to hear. Great examples, and buzz words.

      How would you rate Rachelle's Feedback?