Tell Me About Your Best Experience in Leading a Department/Team/Division/Company


Hiring managers are especially vigilant when it comes to selecting individuals for management positions. Individuals who are placed in such roles are not only responsible for their own work but must also ensure the smooth function of specific aspects of the company. Therefore hiring managers want to ensure that the right candidate is fully equipped with the skills- experience and characteristics need to fulfill the position- and behavioral interview questions are a great way to determine these things. Whereas regular interview questions such as- ‘Why are you a good fit for this position?’ ask you to generalize about yourself and your abilities- behaviorally focused questions like ‘Tell me about your best experience in leading others-‘ offers specific details about how you have handled situations in the past. This gives the interviewer an idea of how you would actually apply your abilities- rather than just knowledge of what you are capable of.

To answer an interview question- you want to first understand its purpose. With this question and others that ask about your experience leading others- the interviewer is trying to gauge your leadership abilities. Therefore a proper answer should highlight your leadership experience along with any qualities that helped you to achieve it. When trying to formulate this answer- using the STAR method can be very helpful. Check out a few tips on answering the question- as well as an example answer utilizing the STAR method.

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How to Answer the ‘Tell Me About Your Best Experience in Leading a Department/Team/Division/Company’ Behavioral Interview Question

Be Clear. If you have had the privilege of enjoying every leadership role that you have held or every aspect of a certain managerial position- that is great. However- a blanket statement answer where you just provide your title and the team or department that you led can leave your interviewer with many questions. Take time to clearly paint the picture of what your position entailed beyond the title and how you interacted with the team.

Do Not Lie. Hiring managers can often tell when you are lying- and one lie can often serve as an automatic disqualifier. Do not pretend that you have led a team that you did not. Even if you are not caught in the middle of the lie- it could happen later should the interviewer ask you any follow-up questions.

Do Not Avoid the Question. You should never avoid answering any behavioral interview questions. The interviewer is asking you the question for a reason- and if you do not provide a sufficient answer it may appear as if you are trying to hide something- or as if you do not have the necessary skills for the positions. Even if you have not had direct experience leading a department- team- division or company- you should talk about an experience related to it. You do not have to have held a title to have utilized management or leadership skills. Think of times were you have implemented those skills and speak about that.

Implement the STAR Method. The STAR method can be very helpful for answering behavioral interview questions. This method gives a uniform strategy to ensure that you provide complete answers to the questions. It is also quite easy- seeing as it comprises only a few parts:

  • • ST- the situation, task or identified problem
  • • A- actions that were taken and why
  • • R- results from the actions that were implemented

By ascribing to this method you will have a clear process to develop complete answers for each question in a concise manner, which interviewers recognize and appreciate.

Highlight Your Relevant Skills. Remember, the main purpose of this question is to gain an understanding of your leadership abilities. Therefore it would be beneficial for you to detail any managerial and leadership skills that you have previously used. Find ways to bring them into your answer organically and avoid making it sound like a list of qualifications. A great way to choose the skills to incorporate in your answer is to review the job listing and focus on skills that are required.

Sample ‘Tell Me About Your Best Experience in Leading a Department/Team/Division/Company’ STAR Interview Answer

In a previous position I had the privilege to serve as the manager of a pilot store program for an insurance company. In the position I aided the agents with the new and potential clients, as well as answered any questions and addressed problems of current clients. I also fulfilled administrative duties, as well as developed and implemented tracking documents that were utilized to help keep track of how the store was progressing. I kept an open line of communication with the agents, which made it easy for them to come to me with their issues. I also worked diligently to create a positive and enjoyable atmosphere for the agents, which fostered a strong comradery among all of us in the store. I believe that this was exemplified by the fact that our store exceeded set goals for the pilot program.