in Careers Advice, Interviews

Legal Job Interview Question and Answers – are you a leader?

Interview Question – Are you a leader?

What a horrible question! Some would argue that it is too formulaic – would “yes” or “no” suffice depending on the job? Would you want to recruit a junior paralegal who said “yes”?

This is a very difficult question to respond to if you have not prepared thoroughly and researched the role you are applying for. Too many people tend to assume that everyone is looking to recruit leaders or future potential leaders when very often this is completely untrue.

Most companies are looking for somebody to fill specific roles. If that role involves management or leadership then you need to give a positive response to this question. If however you are applying for a team player position or a role at a junior level, you need to avoid giving a fully positive response. After all, if you were a manager looking to recruit members of a team would you really want someone who claimed to be a natural leader working for you? Your answer has to depend very much on the job you are applying for.

Interviewers – this question is not going to get the best out of your interviewee – try to be more specific. Ask for an example of a time the interviewee has demonstrated leadership skills or alternatively give them a specific task and ask them about it – eg describe a project and a problem arising during the project and ask for their thoughts.

Examples of Answers
“Yes. If I need to be a leader I have demonstrated my capability on numerous occasions in various roles. These include managing a team of five with responsibility for a budget of £2.5 million and receiving leadership and management training to enable me to do this over a 5 year period, culminating in an MBA.”

“If a role demanded it I am capable of providing good leadership, as demonstrated by x, but similarly I work well as a team member under a manager and am quite willing and able to perform tasks delegated to me.”

“No and I do not expect to be in the future. I have always worked well as a member of a team under the guidance of a manager and my managers have always appreciated the input that I am able to give them working at that level.”


Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at