1. Why do recruiters ask "Tell me about a time you showed leadership"
  2. How to answer "Tell me about a time you showed leadership?"
  3. Sample answers to "Tell me about a time you showed leadership?"
  4. Conclusion

A leadership position comes with many responsibilities and pressure situations, ranging from managing and leading a team to being directly answerable to the higher authorities in the organization. Thus, rendering it critical for recruiters to thoroughly test candidates by asking team leader interview questions like, “Tell me about a time you showed leadership”.

Applying for a team lead position? You have landed on the correct blog! But first let’s find out the reason recruiters ask this interview question.

Why do recruiters ask "Tell me about a time you showed leadership"

Discovering more about your previous leadership experiences is one of the main reasons recruiters ask such team leader interview questions

Your answer will help the recruiter gauge your performance based on your performance in prior organizations.

Even if you did not hold any leadership position previously, recruiters want to see if you have the leadership qualities to lead and mentor teammates.

The main aim at asking such team leader interview questions is to discover your motivational qualities to inspire a team. Thus, making it crucial to come up with strong answers when asked, "Tell me about a time you showed leadership."

How to answer "Tell me about a time you showed leadership?"

Here are a few factors to follow when answering "Tell me about a time you showed leadership."

Explain what leadership means to you

This might surprise you! You need to read between the lines of team leader interview questions like "What is your management style?" or "Tell me about a time you showed leadership".

So, start with explaining your opinion about leadership as it's the hidden answer the recruiter is looking for through "Tell me about a time you showed leadership".

When practicing for a leadership interview consider your previous experiences and list down the leadership qualities that makes one a strong leader as per your opinion.

Related read: Top 30 Qualities of a Good Leader (For Resume and Interviews)

Talk about your previous leadership experience

Next step is to describe about times you showcased leadership skills. But first, read the job description thoroughly to gauge the skills and leadership qualities the recruiter is looking for in their ideal candidate.

Now, check with your qualities and skills for the same. You don't necessarily require prior team leading experience but even situations where you have led a project will work.

Structure your answer appropriately

Finally, frame your answer correctly and provide all the information concisely.

Remember, a recruiter will have more candidates lined up after you. So, avoid taking up too much time. The best option is to opt for the STAR technique as it will help you to form an impactful answer to "Tell me about a time you showed leadership".

To begin with, start with explaining the Situation, move on to the Task at hand, followed by the Action you took and end with the Result it yielded.

Sample answers to "Tell me about a time you showed leadership?"

Sample answer #1:

"I believe that a good team leader is someone with good decision-making skills and is always ready. In my previous organization, my boss had given me the opportunity to lead a conclave.

This project ranged from preparing panels, writing scripts for the Emcee to proper marketing on social media channels. The final task was to design the conclave pages for the monthly magazine. This needed a lot of collaboration with cross-organizational teams and proper distribution of work to all.

So, I knew the strengths of our journalists and assigned them to invite people from within their area of expertise.

For example, if A has contacts within the Mutual Funds industry, they reached out to their clients. I knew some of my journalists although were excellent writers had trouble in communication, so we sat down and modelled a pitch and practiced a few mock calls to help gain confidence.

After assigning the tasks, I set deadlines for finalizing the panelists as the social media propagation would begin only after completing this.

Next, I had to collaborate with the design team for the Conclave banner designs and for the separate panels. Then a double/triple check for the designations, images and spellings of the guest’s names.

My senior opted to work on the Emcee’s speech as that was her forte. Once done, it was sent to the Editor and higher managements for approval.

The D-Day went on smoothly except for a few minor hiccups that were manageable. On completion of the entire event and when magazines were out, my Editor congratulated all of us and I even got appreciative emails from the Marketing heads and other senior officials as the event was a great success.”

Sample answer #2:

“During my college days, as the Class Representatives, my friend and I were entrusted to organize our bi-annual seminars which was a 4-day event.

So, the first thing was to assign tasks, few students who stayed near the college were tasked to collaborate with the professors about the guests and design banners and putting them up across the campus.

While some had the task of spreading the word on social media for other students as it was an open event but they needed to register and show their registration to our campus security. While we took the responsibility of budgeting the seminar and making refreshment and other utilities accordingly.

The seminar days were hectic but everyone enjoyed and everything sailed smoothly. The professors and guests were all happy with the arrangements and response.”


“Tell me about a time you showed leadership” is one of the simpler team leader interview questions you will face. Hope you find these tips to answering this interview question useful.

However, there is one answer that you must avoid at any cost... Never ever say that you do not have any leadership experience.

Everyone at some point or another in their career has had some leadership experience. Even if it’s a project that you had undertaken in your college days is an experience, so don’t shy away from talking about it.

Remember, the primary aim is to exude confidence and presenting yourself as the best possible candidate for the job.

All the Best!

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