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Winning Answer — “Tell me about a time you showed leadership”

How do you answer Tell me about a time you showed leadership.

Shailesh Sharma
7 min readFeb 18, 2024


Sample Answers for “Freshers”, “Experienced” and “Mid-Career Professional Transitioning” in the End

Interviewer: Tell me about a time you showed leadership.

Fear not, job seeker! While seemingly daunting, this question is your golden opportunity to shine. It’s a gateway to showcasing your ability to inspire, guide, and achieve, leaving a lasting impression on the interviewer. But how do you navigate this question effectively? How do you transform it from a potential pitfall into a springboard to success?

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What is the Intent Behind this Question?

Before weaving your leadership narrative, understand the underlying intent. Interviewers aren’t simply seeking past glories; they’re evaluating your potential. They want to see if you possess the critical leadership qualities essential for thriving in their company culture. These qualities typically encompass:

  • Initiative: Do you proactively step up to challenges?
  • Decision-making: Can you analyze situations and make sound choices?
  • Communication: Can you clearly articulate your vision and motivate others?
  • Collaboration: Do you build productive relationships and leverage teamwork?
  • Problem-solving: Can you navigate challenges and find creative solutions?
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Crafting Your Compelling Story:

Now, onto the storytelling! Remember, you’re not reciting facts; you’re painting a picture. Here’s a step-by-step guide to crafting your masterpiece:

1. Choose the Right Story:

Don’t be tempted by your most impressive title or biggest project. Instead, focus on a situation where you genuinely demonstrated leadership qualities. It could be from any context — work, volunteering, academics, or even personal projects. The key is highlighting transferable skills relevant to the desired role.

2. Structure for Impact:

Your story should follow a clear arc, mirroring the STAR method:

  • Situation: Set the scene. Briefly describe the context and challenges you faced.
  • Task: Explain your specific role and responsibilities in that situation.
  • Action: Detail the specific actions you took to demonstrate leadership. This is the heart of your story! Quantify your impact whenever possible.
  • Result: Share the outcome of your actions. Did you achieve your goal? Did you overcome the challenge? Did you learn something valuable?

3. Infuse Authenticity:

People connect with genuine emotions and vulnerabilities. Don’t shy away from sharing the struggles you faced or the lessons you learned. It adds depth and makes your story relatable.

4. Tailor to the Audience:

Remember, you’re not just telling a story; you’re targeting a specific audience — the interviewer and their company. Research the company’s values and mission. Align your story’s themes with their culture and highlight skills relevant to the desired role.

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Strategies for Freshers and Experienced:


For freshers or those with limited work experience, don’t despair! Look beyond formal job titles. Consider leadership experiences from:

  • Academic projects: Did you lead a group project or presentation?
  • Volunteer work: Did you organize a fundraising event or manage a team?
  • Personal endeavours: Did you take initiative in a community project or personal challenge?

Focus on transferable skills like communication, problem-solving, and teamwork. Emphasize your initiative, adaptability, and eagerness to learn.

Experienced People:

For experienced professionals, showcase your ability to lead complex projects, manage teams, and navigate challenging situations. Highlight your decision-making skills, conflict resolution prowess, and ability to inspire and motivate others.

Quantify your achievements whenever possible. Did you lead a team that exceeded sales targets by 20%? Did you implement a process that improved efficiency by 30%? Use data and specific examples to paint a compelling picture of your impact.

Sample Answers for Freshers and Experienced

“In my final year of university, I wasn’t just part of a group project; I actively led the marketing team for our business simulation. We faced challenges with communication and coordination, so I implemented regular team meetings and created a shared document for brainstorming. With clear goals and open communication, we exceeded our project’s financial targets and learned valuable teamwork skills.”

“As project manager for a major software development initiative, I faced a looming deadline and potential budget overrun. I took the initiative to hold daily stand-up meetings, fostering transparency and collaboration. Then, I strategically reassigned tasks based on strengths, optimizing our workflow. We not only met the deadline but also delivered a product that exceeded client expectations. This experience taught me the value of agile leadership and adapting to evolving challenges. Through effective communication and team empowerment, we achieved remarkable results.”

Sample Answers for Product Manager

S-T-A-R Framework

Situation: During a product launch, we realized a critical feature wasn’t performing as expected. User feedback was negative, and the team morale was low.

Task: As the Product Manager, I needed to find a solution quickly and effectively.

Action: I gathered the team, acknowledged the issue, and encouraged open communication. We brainstormed solutions, prioritized based on impact and feasibility, and developed a clear action plan. I kept stakeholders informed, ensured transparent communication, and motivated the team through the process.

Result: We implemented a fix within the planned timeframe, improved user experience significantly, and regained team confidence. This experience taught me the importance of decisive leadership, clear communication, and building trust during challenging situations.

Sample Answers for Software Engineers

S-T-A-R Framework

Situation: My team was working on a complex software project with tight deadlines and technical hurdles. Communication breakdowns and individual differences were hindering progress.

Task: As a senior Software Engineer, I needed to step up and bridge the communication gap.

Action: I organized regular team meetings, facilitated open discussions, and encouraged technical knowledge sharing. I identified individual strengths and assigned tasks accordingly, fostering a collaborative environment. I acted as a mentor, provided technical guidance, and helped resolve conflicts constructively.

Result: The team improved communication, solved technical challenges collaboratively, and met the project deadlines while maintaining code quality. This experience emphasized my ability to lead by example, foster technical collaboration, and navigate complex situations within a team setting.

Sample Answers for Program Managers

S-T-A-R Framework

  1. Situation: Our program faced budget constraints and potential delays due to external factors. The team was stretched thin, and stakeholders were concerned.
  2. Task: I, as the Program Manager, had to ensure program success despite the challenges.
  3. Action: I analyzed the risks and opportunities, communicated openly with stakeholders, and adjusted the program schedule and budget accordingly. I leveraged the team’s strengths, delegated tasks effectively, and fostered collaboration to maximize efficiency. I proactively managed stakeholder expectations and kept them informed of progress.
  4. Result: We delivered the program on time and within budget, exceeding quality expectations. This experience highlighted my ability to adapt to challenges, make data-driven decisions, and lead diverse teams towards successful outcomes.

Bonus Tips:

  • Practice, practice, practice! Rehearse your story out loud to refine your delivery.
  • Be concise and engaging. Aim for a response around 2–3 minutes.
  • Maintain eye contact and confident body language. Project enthusiasm and credibility.
  • Anticipate follow-up questions. Be prepared to elaborate on your actions and decisions.
  • End with a positive takeaway. Briefly summarize what you learned or how this experience shaped you as a leader.


The “leadership” question is more than just a hurdle; it’s an opportunity. By choosing the right story, structuring it effectively, and infusing it with authenticity, you can transform it into a powerful tool to showcase your potential and land your dream job.

Book a Slot with us For a Mock Interview

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Important Links

  1. Guesstimate Interview Questions
  2. Product Manager Resume Template
  3. Product Manager Mock Interview
  4. 50+ Product Manager Interview Questions

How do you answer Tell me about a time you showed leadership?

Tell Me About a Time You Showed Leadership

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