Are You A Leader Or A Follower?

The purpose of an interview is for the hiring manager to see how you would fit into the company as a whole. It is not uncommon to be asked, “Are you a leader or a follower” or something similar about your personality.

When an interviewer asks you this question, it might be tempting to just respond that you are a leader since taking on responsibilities sounds like what a potential employer would want. However, a hiring manager is looking for something more complex. He or she is trying to see if you are versatile and are willing to assume different roles based on what the company needs.

Points to Emphasize

As you are answering this question, it is important to talk about past experiences that show you display characteristics of both a leader and a follower.

  • Talk about times where you took charge and assumed responsibilities

  • Discuss times when you followed instructions successfully

  • Emphasize skills that would benefit both a leader and a follower

    • Mention past experiences where you were both

    This question should be answered in a way that lets the interviewer know that you possess the capabilities to assume both roles and that you are able to change based on the needs of the position.

    Mistakes You Should Avoid

    This is an easy question to slip up on because many people assume that a hiring manager wants to hear that you are a leader. That is not necessarily the case, so avoid falling into these common traps.

  • Do not say you are solely a leader and only talk about your leadership traits

  • Do not say you are solely a follower and only talk about times where you took orders

  • Don’t come across as too wishy-washy where you haven’t really committed to talking about either role

  • Remember to mention how both traits would work for the position you are applying for

    Interviewers value honesty, so give a response that accurately depicts your personality type and experience level.

    Sample Answer

    A good way to answer whether or not you are a leader or a follower is:

    In past jobs, I have been able to adapt to whatever was expected of me. When a group needed a leader, I was more than capable of handling that role, but at the same time, I recognize when it is better to take a step back and take direction from someone who is more knowledgeable than I am.

    A hiring manager is trying to get a sense of how you would benefit the company as a whole, and you are showing your value as an employee by showcasing your ability to serve a number of roles within the organization.

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