True leadership is something that isn’t limited to the workplace. True leadership shows itself in all aspects of your life. Leadership is as much a skill as it is a talent and inherent. There are those that are born with leadership talent, those that have learned effective leadership, and those that fake it and have none at all.
Behavioral Interview Question: Describe a leadership role you have undertaken outside of work. Why did you chose to commit to this role in particular? How did you benefit from this role?
There is no denying this can be a tough question, especially since you have to try and keep your personal life out of your answer as much as you can. You certainly can’t say “my husband really likes it when I take charge of trivial things so I always choose the restaurant.” But you will want to prove that you have leadership qualities that extend beyond the workplace. Some examples include:
- Leading some type of volunteer work.
- Leading some type of event planning (like a convention).
- Leading some type of professional group, like a MeetUp Group for your profession.
When you have one of these stories, answer the question honestly.
Not everyone has these experiences in their history. If you have to, you can use something like a hiking group or another kind of sporting group that you lead. You can also consider:
- Key one off events you have managed
- Study groups
If you have nothing at all to talk about, you may have to speak in existential terms, like so:
“I don’t necessarily try to be a leader outside of work. I have a close knit circle of friends and a variety of fun hobbies, and I’m constantly trying to learn, so I attend functions that others have planned as my way of learning more about my industry – and in some ways leadership, too. Leadership, to me, isn’t something that I exercise without reason. Even in the workplace, I am a leader when I need to be, and a supporter when someone I’m overseeing is thriving.”
Yes, it is helpful to have a good story. But not everyone has led something significant in their personal life that is professional and would impress an employer. When you don’t have that history, explain your answer in a way that shows you genuinely do understand leadership, and what it means to be a leader.