Other interview questions that are similar
- Can you describe a time when you demonstrated leadership skills?
- How do you handle making decisions in a leadership role?
- How do you inspire others to follow your lead?
- Can you give an example of a difficult decision you had to make as a leader?
- How do you handle feedback and criticism as a leader?
- What is your leadership style?
- Can you provide an example of a time when you had to lead a team through a difficult project or situation?
- How do you handle conflict within your team?
- Can you give an example of a time when your leadership made a positive impact on a team or project?
- How do you mentor or develop members of your team?
What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
There are probably an infinite number of questions that the interviewer could ask you on the day. Some questions are incredibly common appearing in almost every interview you will have, while other questions you might hear once and never again regardless of how many jobs you apply for.
Fundamentally though all interview questions are really trying to find out one of 3 things:
1 – Can you do the job? (Do you have the skills/experience needed?)
2 – Will you do the job? (Do you have the drive/motivation to get the job done?)
3 – Will you fit in? (Does your personality match the workplace culture? Are you likeable?)
That’s it. Those are the 3 things that the interviewer is trying to ascertain. Every question that is asked of you will fundamentally be trying to resolve one (or more) of these 3 things.
The question “What do you think makes a good leader?” is a multifaceted question that can actually touch on all three of the fundamental points an interviewer is trying to ascertain.
1 – Can you do the job?: By asking about your understanding of good leadership, the interviewer is indirectly probing your comprehension of the role and responsibilities that come with a leadership position. Your answer can show whether you have a realistic understanding of the leadership skills and experiences needed for the job, and if you’re equipped with these.
2 – Will you do the job?: Your concept of good leadership can reveal a lot about your work ethic, motivation, and drive. If you describe a good leader as someone who’s proactive, committed, and willing to make tough decisions, it suggests that you’re willing to take on these challenges yourself. The drive and motivation you describe for an ideal leader should align with what you’re willing to bring to the role.
3 – Will you fit in?: Your definition of a good leader will also reflect your values and how you might mesh with the company’s culture. If the organization values a collaborative culture and you highlight qualities like transparency, communication, and teamwork, it shows a potential cultural fit. Conversely, if the organization has a more hierarchical structure and you emphasize authority and control, it might suggest a potential mismatch.
So when answering this question, be sure to highlight the qualities and actions of a leader that reflect your capability, motivation, and fit for the role.
How Best To Answer ‘What do you think makes a good leader?’
Structuring an answer to the question “What do you think makes a good leader?” is best achieved by following a clear, coherent structure. Here’s a suggested approach:
- Introduction: Begin by expressing your appreciation for the question and the importance of leadership in any role. This sets the tone for a thoughtful and considered response.
- Presentation of Leadership Qualities: Identify and explain the key qualities you believe a good leader should have. For instance, you might mention qualities like communication, empathy, integrity, resilience, vision, and the ability to inspire and motivate others. Be sure to give a brief explanation as to why each of these qualities is important.
- Examples and Experiences: Share specific examples or experiences where you’ve observed these qualities in action, or when you’ve demonstrated these qualities yourself. Real-world examples help to ground your points and make them more persuasive.
- Relation to the Job: Tie your understanding of leadership back to the role for which you’re interviewing. Discuss how these qualities would be beneficial in the context of the specific job and company culture. If you know the company values certain traits, ensure you highlight those.
- Conclusion: Wrap up your response by reiterating the importance of good leadership and your ability to embody these qualities.
What You Should NOT Do When Answering Questions
Do not avoid the question.
Do not describe a failure (unless specifically asked).
Do not downplay the situation.
Do not overhype the situation.
Do not say you have no experience with the subject matter.
Do not reject the premise of the question.
Do not have a passive role in the situation.
Do not give a one-sentence answer.
Do not overly describe the scenario and miss the action
What do you think makes a good leader? – Example answer
“I appreciate this question because leadership is a critical aspect of any role, not just for those in management positions. In my opinion, a good leader should demonstrate several key qualities: effective communication, empathy, integrity, resilience, and the ability to inspire others.
Effective communication ensures clear understanding and expectations within a team. Empathy allows a leader to understand and relate to the needs and feelings of their team members. Integrity builds trust, and resilience is essential in navigating the inevitable ups and downs that teams encounter. The ability to inspire others, to create a shared vision and motivate the team to work towards it, is the hallmark of a transformative leader.
In my previous role as a project manager, I endeavored to apply these principles. For instance, during a challenging project, I maintained transparent communication about our progress and setbacks, held regular check-ins to understand and address my team’s concerns, and stayed committed to our objectives, demonstrating resilience in the face of difficulties. This approach not only helped us successfully complete the project but also strengthened our team dynamic.
As I understand, your company values open communication, innovation, and collaboration. I believe these leadership qualities I’ve described are well-aligned with your values and would enable me to contribute effectively to your team.
In summary, while there are many styles of leadership, I believe that these core qualities form the basis of effective, inspirational leadership.”
“Thanks for asking this! To me, a good leader has to be a great listener, fair, helpful, and always positive.
A great listener takes the time to understand what their team is saying. Being fair is about treating everyone equally and making just decisions. Being helpful means providing support and guidance to the team when it’s needed. And being positive helps keep the team’s morale high, especially during challenging times.
In my past job as a customer service representative, my supervisor showed these qualities. For instance, during busy periods, he would listen to our concerns, make fair decisions about who did what, step in to help when we were overwhelmed, and keep us motivated by maintaining a positive attitude.
For this role as a customer service supervisor, I believe these qualities are crucial. Good listening can help understand both the team and customers better. Being fair ensures a good working environment. Being helpful would allow me to support my team effectively. And staying positive can help the team navigate through tough times and keep the customers happy.
So, in short, a good leader should be a listener, fair, helpful, and positive. And I strive to be that kind of leader.”
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