Top Culture Fit Questions

How to Answer: How Have You Displayed Leadership?

No matter what your major or chosen career path, one of the most common questions you’ll encounter during a job interview is “How have you displayed leadership?” When employers ask this question, it’s because they want to learn more about your personality and how you approach challenges. More specifically, they want to know whether you can take initiative and lead effectively when the occasion calls for it.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when answering this question.

1. Talk about a time you took on a leadership role.

The best way to do this is by recalling a positive, concise example of a time that you displayed leadership and doing your best to paint a picture of the situation. For example, if you organized a charity fundraiser for your sorority and raised a lot of money, be sure to mention that.

Pro Tip: If you can’t think of a relevant example from a previous job or internship, use a personal experience such as a time when you displayed leadership while volunteering, pursuing hobbies, participating in clubs or sports or tackling an academic project.

2. Demonstrate that you’re a team player who is able to get things done.

No one wants a leader who will come in, take charge and then not actually execute. Sure, it’s important to have someone managing a project, but it’s also important to show that you were able to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. When outlining the steps you took to achieve your goal, be sure to talk about your ability to delegate tasks while also showing that you took on a fair number of tasks yourself. Going back to the charity event example, you can mention that you were able to keep everyone else organized while also tracking donations and figuring out the best way to draw attention to the event.

3. Highlight your accomplishments in a quantifiable way.

Anyone can come up with a ground-breaking idea, but not everyone can follow through with it. This is why it’s important wrap up your answer by showing how you worked to accomplish (and possibly exceed) your goal. If you can, talk about numbers. It’s easy to say that you made something a success with no real way to measure the outcome, but if you can prove that you were successful, for instance by showing that the event you planned raised over $50,000, that is a concrete example that your future employer can appreciate.

Say something like: “As president of my sorority, I was responsible for 80 chapter members. One of the biggest challenges was putting together our annual fundraiser for XYZ Charity, which hadn’t been all that successful in recent years. I organized dozens of members, created a spreadsheet to track donation progress and got several local celebrities to come to the event. In the end, the hard work paid off, and our chapter had the most successful year yet: We raised over $50,000 for the charity and won ‘Sorority of the Year’ on campus.”

By showing the employer that you’re able to take initiative and be a leader, you’ll be sure to impress them and get one step closer to landing the job.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 10 Tips for the Perfect Cover Letter and find answers to other common interview questions such as What Are Your Strengths?