Interview Question: Tell Me About a Time You Demonstrated Leadership – CV Nation

Tell Me About a Time You Demonstrated Leadership | Interview Question

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The ultimate guide to the ‘tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership’ question, with three great example answers and everything you need to know to craft a job-winning answer.

If you’re preparing for management or leadership job interviews, there’s a strong chance you’ll be asked a behaviour based question about your leadership. Such questions are usually ‘tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership’.

To ensure you succeed in your job interview and make a positive impression on hiring managers, it’s vital that you get your answer to this question right.

In this guide, we’ll show you exactly how to answer this question, and we’ll give you expert tips on how to impress hiring managers. We’ll also show you three great example answers to the 'tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership' question.

Why Do Interviewers Ask Tell Me About a Time You Demonstrated Leadership?

Interviewers ask you to tell them about a time you demonstrated leadership to gauge your leadership qualities and learn what kind of leader you would be if they hired you. As a leader, you must be able to effectively lead and take control of situations. This question gives interviewers insight into your ability to do that.

Your answer to this question also tells interviewers if you’re a leader who can add value to organisations. If you can give an example of a time you demonstrated leadership skills and made a positive impact on an organisation, interviewers will see you as someone who can potentially do so again in the future.

If candidates can’t give a solid answer to this question, hiring managers may question their leadership skills. In fact, failing to answer this question with a good answer can have a very negative impact on your job interview.

That’s why it’s important to practice your answer ahead of time. Putting in the time to prepare an effective answer to this question can be the difference between succeeding and failing in your job interview.

Tips for Answering Tell Me About a Time You Demonstrated Leadership

Identify a Time You Demonstrated Excellent Leadership

To effectively answer this question, you need to identify a time you demonstrated excellent leadership qualities. Think about a time that you excelled as a leader and achieved positive outcomes for organisations.

Examples may include restructuring an organisation, changing workplace cultures, transitioning underperforming organisations, leading teams to success, delivering challenging projects and improving colleagues.

If you can’t think of a time you demonstrated exceptional leadership, try to focus on a time when you performed more general leadership activities. For example, did you once lead a team and maintain profitable, efficient operations?

Use the STAR Method

When answering behaviour-based job interview questions, such as ‘tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership’, you should use the STAR method.

STAR is a structured method of answering job interview questions. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. When using the STAR method, you start by describing the situation you were faced with, followed by the task at hand, the action you took and the end result.

Here is an example answer the ‘tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership’ question that uses the STAR method.

‘When I joined Example Company as an operations manager, I assessed the existing operations within the company. I soon came to realise that members of the team were not performing as effectively and efficiently as possible. This was mostly because they were not proficient with the technology that was in place. (This is the Situation).

As the operations manager, it was my job to ensure staff were performing to high standards. So I decided I had to make changes to get the best out of the team. (This is the Task).

After identifying this issue, I established training workshops for team members, which focused on the technology solutions that the company used. The workshop ran for 12 weeks and operated with the goal of providing team members with advanced skills in the use of the technology. (This is the Action).

Following the implementation of the workshops, staff members became proficient with the technology. As a result, operations ran much more smoothly. I received written commendation from the company’s leadership team for my role in improving efficiency and effectiveness in the workplace. (This is the Result).

Example Answers to Tell Me About a Time You Demonstrated Leadership

To help you prepare your answer to ‘tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership’, we’ve included three example answers to the question.

Example Answer 1

‘When I joined Example Company as CEO, I evaluated the existing operations and learned that there was significant room for improvement. The company wasn’t hitting its sale targets and it had been making a loss for over six years.

As the CEO, I saw it as my responsibility to ensure the company was profitable and performing as well as it could do.

In response to this, I restructured the Sales function and recruited a team of new, expert sales professionals. I also developed new sales strategies in collaboration with the sales director.

After 18 months, the company had made an annual profit of over 2 million dollars. The company went on to achieve year on year growth for five years.’

Example Answer 2

‘When I was employed as a manager at Example Company, I discovered that a number of the team members were failing to hit their targets. These targets, specifically, were focused on completing their tasks within a set period of time. Many members of the team were only finishing a small portion of their tasks by the time their shifts ended.

I felt it was important that the team members were provided with a platform to hit their targets. And, as their manager, it was up to me to make sure they possessed the capabilities to do so.

I established a training programme for team members. This programme taught team members how to carry out their duties efficiently. It focused on providing them with the skills to perform to high standards while working against the clock.

After they had completed the training programme, 98% of team members were completing all of their tasks within their shift. I was pleased with how effective my actions were in improving the performance of the team, and I received acknowledgment from Senior Management for my actions.’

Example Answer 3

‘While I was employed as project manager at Example Company, I was leading a project to develop a 300-house estate in London. While managing this project, I ran into a major roadblock. The project was under resourced and we did not have a sufficient number of site personnel to complete the project within the established timescales.

I was determined to complete the project on time, despite the significant lack of personnel available to me at the time.

I established meetings with key stakeholders to discuss solutions to this problem. I managed to secure additional funding for third-party contractors, who came to work on the project. As we were still understaffed, I managed to get stakeholders to push back the expected project completion date by two months.

We had to work very hard, but we managed to get the project completed by the adjusted date. I received commendation from key stakeholders for my work in getting the project completed with limited resources.’

How to Answer Tell Me About a Time You Demonstrated Leadership if You Have no Leadership Experience

So, how do you answer ‘tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership’ if you have no managerial or leadership experience. Maybe you’re looking for your first leadership job and have no senior experience.

The fact is, you can still demonstrate leadership, even if you’re not operating in a senior role. For example, you may have successfully led a project at university. Or you may have helped a colleague develop.

If you have no senior experience, think about a time you demonstrated leadership skills, whether it be at school, university or in the workplace.

We hope you have found this guide to the ‘tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership’ question helpful.

Need help preparing your CV for leadership positions? Feel free to check out our in-depth guide on how to write a CV.

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