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How to Answer: Would You Describe Yourself as a Leader or a Follower?

How to Answer: Would You Describe Yourself as a Leader or a Follower?

If you hear the question “Are you a leader or a follower?” during an interview for an internship or entry-level job, you can consider this question a “fit” question, meaning that the interviewer is trying to assess whether you’re a good cultural fit for the company, the team and the position you’re applying for.

Just like with any binary question, the interviewer wants to hear your response, followed by a reason for why you feel as though that response is true. As always, actions speak louder than words, so speaking about your past performance can always help make your answer even stronger.

Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing your answer.

1. Start by explaining how you see yourself.

Do you consider yourself a leader or a follower? Mention this and explain why that’s the case. However, we recommend bringing up that you’re also capable of being the other type. The interviewer most likely wants to know that you’re capable of being both a leader and a follower, and that you can figure out the right time for each one based on the situation.

Say something like: “I tend to be the leader in most situations, though I can think of plenty of times when it was better for the group for me to follow along.”

2. Give an example (no more than 60 seconds) of a time when you took charge.

This can be a leadership position in a club, a leadership position in a group project, a time you started your own business, etc.

3. Then give a shorter example of a time when you followed instructions.

Your best bet would be to think of a time when you were not the “expert” in the group, but someone else was, so you followed along and learned from them. Make sure you’re honest in your entire answer since you want to ensure that you’re the right personality fit for the role!

Say something like: “All of my friends tell me I’m the leader of our group since I’m always the one planning our group trips, the one who was President of all of her clubs in college and the one who tends to present after group projects. However, there are plenty of times I can think of when I’ve been a follower because it was best for the group. For example, I’ve never played softball before, so when my friends started a softball league (with me in it), I watched a few games and read a few articles, but I ultimately let my softball-pro friends take charge on where I should go, what the batting order should be and so on.”

By demonstrating that you can be both a leader and a follower, you’ll show the hiring manager that you’re a true team player and a cultural fit for any role. This is a great way to stand out from the crowd and help potential employers see your value.

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

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