When recruiters ask what your leadership experiences are, it doesn’t have to be for a leadership role or a managerial position. Questions on leadership experience are a popular interview question you may be asked.
While some people, especially those applying for entry-level positions, may struggle to bring out leadership experience when asked, some other people may be too uncomfortable talking about themselves in that manner. Either way, not answering the question right or not answering at all will only reduce your chances.
This article will help you correctly answer the question by showing you ways to bring out the best leadership experience from your life, even those you may not know you have – thereby convincing the interviewer that you’re the right candidate for the position. The article will also show you examples of some leadership experiences you can use when asked during interviews or even in your résumé.
You do not have to be a professional leader or manager to have vital leadership qualities and experiences. Even a fresh school leaver can answer this question and immediately show the recruiter that they are the best for the role. Without further ado, let’s start by seeing why recruiters ask this question in the first place.
Why Do Recruiters Ask About Your Leadership Experience?
You may be wondering why recruiters would be interested in your leadership experience, especially when the role has very little to do with leadership at first glance.
When recruiters ask you to describe your leadership experience, they mostly want to know your leadership skills, if any and if you can manage a team well and lead. This is even more essential for managerial roles.
Recruiters may also be looking at your long-term prospects even if you’re being hired for an entry-level role. People with leadership abilities are more likely to be promoted to higher positions. There’s also this notion that people with leadership abilities are more loyal and would stay longer in an organization as opposed to jumping at the next job opening.
Sometimes, it’s about having somebody they can trust, even in non-leadership roles, who can take on projects like organizing a company event or training coworkers on how to use new technology.
How to Answer “What Are Some of Your Leadership Experiences?”
If you’re looking for your next job, there’s a high chance you get asked what your leadership experiences are in your next interview. If you’re asked the question, will you be able to answer it without fumbling? Will you also be able to say the right things that improve rather than dampen your chances of getting the job?
To answer the question the best way possible, a way that sets you apart from the crowd and immediately shows your leadership abilities with relevant examples, there are specific steps you can take. These steps will help you bring out relevant leadership experiences to put you ahead of the other applicants.
Understand the Qualities That Shows Leadership
Many people feel they have no leadership experience to talk about when asked in an interview, but more often than not, it is about them not knowing the qualities that showcase leadership. Understanding which characteristics show leadership will help you pick out your leadership experiences quickly and without stress.
Qualities like courage, sincerity, accountability, passion, empathy, coordination, and communication are essential leadership qualities that help you to relate and lead people as well as take charge of projects and deliver.
Think About Your Past Leadership Experiences
This is a time to reflect on your past experiences and bring out the experiences that show your leadership qualities. Look at incidents that have portrayed any of the leadership qualities mentioned above and more in one way or another.
You can even make a list of all the experiences you can remember. This will help make your decision easier. Have you stepped up and calmed a situation that was almost boiling over? Have you taken charge of a project and ensured it stayed on track? Have you been taught a new technology or strategy at work? All these show varying levels of leadership and should be included in your list.
Bear in mind that these leadership experiences do not have to be work-related. You can list experiences in sports, volunteering, travel, and more. After making this list, you can then proceed to the next step.
Choose a Leadership Experience
From your list of leadership experiences, you can select a relevant experience to share with the interviewers when asked to describe your leadership experience.
Before you choose a relevant leadership experience from the ones on your list, you have to determine what leadership means to you. There is no particular way to describe leadership because leadership means different things to different people.
You have to search and come to terms with what leadership means to you. Consider the kind of leader you are or the type you want to be. This would be your guide to selecting the most suitable experience to use.
Bear in mind that while selecting the experience based on the type of leader you are or want to be, you also have to include the idea of the type of leadership role you may require. With all these in mind, you can choose a relevant leadership experience to share.
Select a recent experience if you can while ensuring that you have a story with an impressive result. These would make the experience exciting and powerful.
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Use the S.T.A.R Technique
The STAR technique of answering questions is a popular approach that involves stating the situation, the task, the action you took, and the result you got.
The STAR approach will answer the question “describe your leadership experience” in detail. So how do you use this approach to explain your story?
- Situation: Start by explaining the circumstance in clear terms. Make sure to include details that will make the problem easy to understand.
- Task: After explaining the circumstances involved, you can then move forward to talk about the task at hand that needed a leader to step forward.
- Action: At this point, the interviewer knows the task at hand and has an idea of the kind of leadership required. This is where you state the action(s) you took to tackle the problem. The action(s) should showcase the leadership qualities and expectations required to solve that task.
- Result: The best way to prove that your action was successful is by showing results. Results are the ultimate proof that you are a true leader, and the qualities you exhibited are the required qualities to solve the problem. There are situations where the results are not immediately apparent. In these instances, you have to quantify the results so the interviewer can get a picture of what you achieved.
10 Leadership Experience Examples
There are quite a few situations from which you can draw inspiration for leadership examples. Here are some of them.
1. Leading a School Project
No matter what level of education you completed, if you ever took on a task and completed a project by leading your peers, you can list it as a leadership achievement. If you graduated college, pick something from the last two years.
You could mention something from your senior year if you finished high school. Organizing your classmates, mostly teenagers or young adults, for a project shows mettle for leadership.
2. Organizing Study Group
Even if you did not take on a big project, but contributed towards organizing study groups or school drives, even that can be included under leadership example. This is because you took the initiative to do something, and if it helped others, you showed leadership qualities.
3. Solving a Problem
A good leader is someone who can find solutions to a problem. Most people cannot even spot a problem, let alone solve it. Many people also focus on the problem rather than finding a solution.
If you can spot and solve problems, then it shows you have leadership skills. If you can come up with a solution that serves all the parties at some point, that could be an excellent example.
4. Leadership in Sports
Suppose you have ever been a part of a sports team and headed it as a captain. In that case, that can be included under leadership experience.
It could be your school soccer team or college basketball team, or even your community team in the neighborhood. Being a sports captain requires a lot of commitment, and you can include this aspect.
5. Volunteer Leadership
To lead from the front, even when you are not getting paid for it, and working solely for the betterment of the people, is an excellent instance of selfless leadership.
Not many people are up for the task, but if you have ever done it, you should include it under leadership experience. Don’t forget to mention how your endeavor helped the people.
6. Training Recruits
Training members, who have just joined the team, is a huge responsibility. Not only do they have to learn a lot, but as a mentor, you have to ensure their overall development and ensure that they feel welcome in the team. Being a manager or supervisor is not easy, and patience is one quality they must have- which may be often tested when working with recruits.
It also showed your employers relied on your enough to give you the responsibility of honing new talent. Hence, if you have ever trained or taught anyone, you can include it in your leadership skills and experience.
7. Managing Clients
Managing clients is a huge responsibility. Client and customer retention are the backbones of maintaining a business. Suppose you have ever been given the responsibility of managing clients.
In that case, you know your employers have great faith in you. Not many people will be able to offer this example, so this will be to your advantage.
8. Direct Reports
Suppose you were the person in the organization to whom people reported. In that case, this is a great leadership example that you can give.
Being in charge of duties where people had to report to you, and then you had to make reports for submissions or perform reviews. It shows you have discretion and leadership skills, which you must mention.
9. Heading Meetings and Events
If you are asked to conduct meetings and organize events, you must have leadership skills. Hosting or organizing these events is not always easy, as one must take care of several factors and deal with many people.
Hence, heading these meetings can be valuable to your leadership experience.
10. Passion Projects
If you have indulged in a project out of sheer love and passion and got others involved with it because you inspired them, then you can include it as a leadership experience.
Not many people today dare to go after their dream, so it would be great if you could show something where you achieved great results just because you put your heart and soul into it. It shows you believe in yourself, which is an excellent leadership quality.
What If You Do Not Have a Perfect Leadership Example?
Not everyone always has the perfect leadership example, which is alright if you do not. However, everyone has some situation in life where they have to step up and take the lead. You can choose any such situation and use it as a leadership skill.
You can highlight how it helped those involved and also helped you hone your leadership qualities which you feel will be of great help. It is better if you take on managerial duties someday.
Examples of Leadership Experiences
If you’re looking for examples to use or tweak when asked to describe your leadership experience, you’re in the right place. This section deals with practical examples of leadership experiences.
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“I may not have a lot of professional leadership experience as I’m a fresh graduate, but I’ve had opportunities to lead in the past. This particular experience happened when I volunteered as an assistant in a school for the physically challenged. The class had many students learning how to express themselves through art, and the teacher was being stretched too thin. I had to step in and help. I was able to bring my experience as an art lover to guide these people and help them become better individuals while also developing an interest in art. A number of them have gone on to study art professionally.”
“In my last role, the company had an end of the quarter goal to meet, and as a member of the sales team, we were tasked with finding a solution by increasing the number of sales to meet the requirements in 6 weeks. I took the initiative and came up with a framework after going through data from our clients. This framework involved a new offer to both new and existing clients. The offer was an incentive to buy more products as it involved a discount when a client buys a particular number of products. I led the team in fine-tuning the offer and launching. Within four weeks, we had already hit the mark for the goal set.”
“In my role as financial manager at BWA, I headed the finance team, including the accounts and documentation department. I was also in charge of handling some client portfolios. With my experience in the role, I developed a 3 step formula for better portfolio growth. I put this into a simple handbook and shared it with my team. The team used the strategies in it, and many reached out to say how helpful it was. I also solicited feedback and incorporated this feedback into a more detailed framework that I shared with the finance team. This led to a 12% increase in portfolio growth.”
The aim is to ace that interview and land the job, and that is why learning how to answer popular interview questions is vital. Interview questions focusing on your leadership experiences will require certain guile and style to respond appropriately. All that is needed is stated in this guide.