This question is your opportunity to give a real-world example. You are going to describe a situation in which you led a team. You are going to give an example of leadership experience, show how you manage and show your impact on an organization. This also means discussing results.
An employer is trying to gauge a few different things with this question. Mainly, they are trying to get a deeper look at your management and leadership experience to see what tactics you use to lead, plan, delegate and evaluate a project.
They also want to see how you demonstrate your leadership skills.
Picking a project
The hardest part of this for some may be picking the project in which you led a team.. It is okay to have a stock project that you use for all interviews, as you will be highlighting different aspects depending on the role and company. However, if you haven’t already picked your project a great way to start is by reviewing your recent accomplishments.
Make a list of recent accomplishments in which you had management and leadership experience from the last two years. It is best to pick a recent project when answering this question. If you do not have a lot of management and leadership experience, think about projects that you have completed in school or when doing community service or volunteer work.
Now that you have identified several projects that you could speak about, take a look back at the job description. Do any of your projects directly relate to the experience the job is asking for? If not, don’t worry. Although it is nice to point out similarities in experience it is not required in order to answer the questions well. Identify the management and leadership skills that the organization is highlighting. This is what is important.
Most employers already know what the last project was that you led. They are looking to see if your management and leadership style meshes with their current culture and team. In some select cases, they are looking for your style to shake up the organization.
The job description will give you clues to what kind of leader the organization is looking to hire. If the leadership skills do not jump out at you then focus on the key skills, what key skills would allow me to lead this type of project?
Identify two or three key skills or leadership styles that you would like to highlight.
Make a timeline of the project, noting all large milestones. Consider why the project was initially started or why you got involved, how many people were on the team, and what major ideas or impact you had on the project.
If it was a team of one, then consider who you had to collaborate with in order to complete the project. You may not touch on all the milestones when answering the questions but it is important to have them in mind when starting to craft your answer.
If you are interviewing for a management or senior role, showing your ability to delegate tasks will be important. Did your team come across any hiccups when working on this project, make sure to include how you handled them.
Most importantly of all, what was the outcome of the project and how was it measured. It is okay if the outcome was not positive; just make sure to note what you would have done differently. You should make a mental note of what you would have done differently even if the project was a success. This will show an employer that you are striving for greatness and analyzing where you can improve.
Construct an answer that combines the following
- Problem or why the project was initiated
- Major steps that were taken or how you proceeded with the project, including how you collaborated/led teams and resolved issues
- Outcome, including how you evaluated whether the project was a success or measured outcome