Do you want to walk away from your job interview feeling like this?

Leo DiCaprio Meme: Looking happy following a job interview

Here's how to ace one of the trickiest interview questions:

"Should a leader be feared or liked?"

Flaticon Icon

Why Ask This Question?

The interviewer is trying to:

  1. determine the kind of environment you respond to best

  2. ensure you will fit into their team

  3. gauge how you view your supervisors

Dwight from The Office with a clipboard wondering something

Which Option Do You Choose?

Favoring only a frightening manager or a fun manager is a trick because neither option is ideal!

Flaticon IconHarsh Leaders = Bad Morale

Flaticon IconOverly Nice Leaders = Pushover

Choose the secret third option: a leader should be respected. A respected leader knows when to be stern but can also relate to their staff and provide a safe and supportive working environment .

Tips On How To Respond

Flaticon IconHow to respond:

💡 Tip 1: Focus on a leader who takes a balanced approach between feared and liked.

💡 Tip 2: Keep your response positive and to the point.

💡 Tip 3: Draw on past experiences from a leader you respected.

💡 Tip 4: Review the company's mission statement/goals to create an answer that is truthful and aligns with the company .

Flaticon IconHow not to respond:

💡 Tip 1: Don't choose a side! Avoid saying that you think leaders should only be feared or only liked.

💡 Tip 2: Avoid answering negatively or speaking poorly about previous leaders you experienced.

Example Responses

Flaticon IconNurse Dan

Dan was interviewing for a nursing role at a hospital. His response:

"The emergency department can become hectic quickly. Being disorganized as a team can have an effect on the patients. Therefore, a leader should strive to run an organized environment, while ensuring they do not demand or undervalue their team members. Ultimately, I respect leaders who can support their staff, while being fair and understanding."

Flaticon IconHairstylist Alexis

Alexis was interviewing to be the manager of a salon. Her response:

"It is vital to me that I remain approachable and that the team feels comfortable to bring forth their concerns, but I also recognize that I will have to make unpopular decisions. I strive to be a leader that my team can rely on to make decisions that are good for both them and the company."

Take Action

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This Byte has been authored by


Paige Eansor

Research Assistant