are you a leader or a follower

One of the most common questions asked in a job interview is “Are you a leader or a follower?” This seemingly simple question can be tricky to answer, as it requires self-awareness and understanding of one’s own strengths and abilities. Employers ask this question to gain insight into your leadership style and how you work within a team. While there is no right or wrong answer, it is important to give a response that shows your abilities and good qualities. In this article, we’ll see why employers ask this question, how to answer it well and provide some examples of strong answers to ‘Are you a leader or a follower?’

Understanding Why Employers Ask “Are You a Leader or a Follower?”

When employers ask the question “Are you a leader or a follower?” in a job interview, they are seeking to gain insights into your leadership style and how you collaborate within a team. This question helps them assess your potential to take charge, motivate others, and contribute to the success of the organization.

By asking this question, employers want to see if you possess the necessary qualities and skills to be an effective leader. They want to know if you have the ability to take initiative, make decisions, and guide others towards a common goal. On the other hand, they also want to evaluate if you can be a team player, follow instructions, and work collaboratively with others.

Here are a few points why do employers care about this?

Team Dynamics

Employers want to build strong teams. They need people who can step up when needed (that’s where leaders shine) but also folks who can collaborate and support others (cue the followers). Understanding where you fit in this spectrum helps them know how you might contribute to the team’s success.


When faced with challenges, leaders bring in fresh perspectives and drive solutions. Followers lend their expertise and effort to make those solutions a reality. Employers want a mix of both to tackle problems effectively.


sometimes a leader needs to step back and let someone else take charge. Other times, a follower might need to step up and lead a project. Employers look for candidates who can adapt their role based on the situation.

Your Style Matters

There’s no right or wrong answer here. Employers want to know about your style, how you work with others, and how you contribute to a team. They value both leaders and followers because both play vital roles in a successful workplace.

How to Answer the Question ‘Are You a Leader or a Follower?’

When answering the question ‘Are you a leader or a follower?’ in a job interview, it’s important to think about the specific job you’re applying for and the company’s culture. Here are some tips for answering the question ‘Are you a leader or a follower?’ effectively:

Understand the question

Employers aren’t just asking if you’re a leader or a follower. By asking this, they want to know how you work in a team and what your leadership style looks like. Take a moment to reflect on what the employer’s expectations from this role. Consider the job description and the company’s values to align your response accordingly.

Highlight your strengths

Think about situations where you’ve led a team or been a great team player. Provide specific examples that showcase your abilities to motivate others, make decisions, or collaborate effectively. Focus on what you achieved together and how your actions contributed to success.

Emphasize adaptability

It’s important to show that you can be both a leader and a follower, depending on the situation. Mention your ability to take charge when needed, but also your willingness to listen to others, follow instructions, and work collaboratively. Highlighting this versatility demonstrates your ability to adjust to different team settings.

Show self-awareness

Discuss your understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses as they relate to leadership and teamwork. Highlight how you continuously strive to improve yourself and learn from experiences. This shows maturity and a commitment to personal and professional growth.

Align with company values

Research the company’s values and mission statement before the interview. Show that you understand what the company is looking for in an employee and that you have the qualities they are looking for.

3 Example Answers for “Are You a Leader or a Follower?”

When answering the question “Are you a leader or a follower?” in a job interview, it can be helpful to provide specific examples that showcase your abilities and qualities. Here are three example answers that can help you craft your own response:

Example-1: As Both Leader and Follower

“Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to lead and be a part of various teams. In my previous role as a project manager, I was responsible for leading a team of five individuals to successfully complete a complex project. I demonstrated my leadership skills by setting clear goals, delegating tasks effectively, and providing guidance and support to team members. However, I also recognize the importance of being a team player. In another project, I took a backseat and contributed as a follower, allowing someone else to take the lead based on their expertise. I believe that being a leader or a follower depends on the situation and the strengths of the team members. My adaptability allows me to switch roles seamlessly, ensuring the success of the team.”

Example-2: As a Leader

“I consider myself a natural leader who leads by example. In my previous role as a team leader, I motivated my team members by fostering a positive and collaborative work environment. I encouraged open communication and empowered team members to share their ideas and contribute to decision-making. However, I am also aware that leadership is not always about being at the forefront. There are instances where it is essential to follow instructions and support others in achieving their goals. I have experience working in cross-functional teams, where I collaborated effectively with colleagues from different departments, ensuring a unified approach towards achieving our common objectives.”

Example-3: As a Follower

“In my opinion, leadership and followership are not mutually exclusive. To be an effective leader, one must also be a good follower. Throughout my career, I have held various leadership roles where I have demonstrated my ability to guide and inspire others. I have a knack for identifying each team member’s strengths and leveraging them to maximize productivity. However, I believe that true leadership involves actively listening to others and valuing their opinions. I have often taken a step back to follow someone else’s lead when they had the expertise in a particular area. This shows my ability to collaborate and work as part of a team, contributing to the overall success of the organization.”


In a job interview, when asked “Are you a leader or a follower?”, it’s not just about labeling yourself; it’s about understanding your role within a team setting. Employers aim to grasp your leadership style and collaborative abilities, seeking candidates who can flex between leading and supporting effectively. This question emphasizes adaptability, a critical trait in navigating diverse team dynamics and ensuring collective success. To answer this question effectively, you need to match your response to the specific job you’re applying for, provide real-life examples of your leadership and teamwork skills, and show that you’re aware of your strengths and areas for development.

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