I know you’re tempted to you immediately say, “Well, I’m a leader! I like to lead,” and can sound like a puppy with your answer. The first thing you have to do is remember what the job is all about that you are interviewing for. What did they want to hear from you?
You can speak about being a leader, but then you have to be prepared for the follow-up they are going to ask you. You then have to be prepared for the follow-up question which is, “To me by the time were you letting your work.” You have to be prepared to talk about the situation and paint it broadly and clearly. So you might talk about the project that you had, or how in the office, you may not have the manager’s title, but you’re the go-to individual for all people who work in your kind of work in the company. You are the resource that everyone goes to, not because you have the job title, but because people see you as a leader.
However, if you are a follower, you can take that in lots of different directions. For example, you can be interviewing for a staff job where you have no leadership responsibility. Yet you can talk in terms of, for example, “Being a follower has a connotation to it. Followers take orders. They take direction from people. I do that in the course of my work. However, at the same time, in situations where I work with others, I function as a leader for them..”
See what I’m doing here? I’m saying I can follow orders, but I can also work with my colleagues and be motivational and inspirational to them. I can also make suggestions to my management about the way things can be done a little bit differently. I understand that is ultimately their decision but, at the end of the day, I am a follower, but within the context, I am the leader of followers.
I’m going to get that? You don’t want to come across as just being a clerk.
I’m using clerk as a metaphor for a person who sits at the desk unthinkingly
(I remember doing this is a high school kid in 1 of my early jobs un-stapling, separating them, and then collating them in different orders… Man! That was a terrible job but has a high school kid, you do whatever you can, especially if it will keep you indoors).
You can be a follower, but modify the answer in such a way that you let them know that you are the leader among the people who take direction.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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