First impressions last. That’s why you need to showcase your leadership skills during your job interview if you want to be instantly thought of as a leader – regardless of the level or role you’re pursuing. The people who are interviewing you are decision makers. Having them see you as a leader from the start will make it easier for you after you land the gig and pursue a role in leadership.
Here are 10 ways to demonstrate that you’re a leader in your job interview:
1. Inventory Your Leadership Experiences
To have them top of mind, take a trip down memory lane and think about all the times you exhibited leadership. Don’t discount those leadership moments that happened outside the office – your volunteer roles, sports experiences, and university projects.
2. Tell Stories
Leaders inspire and engage people, and they know that stories are compelling. Rather than provide lists of experiences and skills, tell stories that highlight your leadership prowess. In addition to being interesting, stories are memorable, so they’ll stay top-of-mind during those discussions where decision makers are comparing candidates and deciding who gets on the short-list.
3. Show Empathy
Today’s authentic leader is self- and others-aware and exudes empathy in the way they conduct business. Look for opportunities to show that you’re concerned for others. Even simple things like getting up to hand your resume to the interviewer so she doesn’t have to reach will get noticed.
4. Have Your Case Studies Ready
Share examples of projects you've led. Discuss the goals, your approach, the challenges you faced, and the results you achieved. This shows you can spearhead initiatives and solve problems.
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5. Highlight Your Leadership Development
Leaders are learners. They aren’t satisfied with the status quo. They actively pursue opportunities for professional development. Show that you too are a life-long learner and highlight the learning programs you chose that helped you build your leadership muscle.
6. Ask Strategic Questions
Leaders spend a lot of their time thinking about the big picture. Show that you’re able to think and act at a strategic level. Ask questions like “How does the role I am applying for fit into the organisation’s bigger strategy?” Or, “How is the organization using AI to increase efficiency?”
7. Share How You Inspired or Mentored Others
Management Guru Jack Welch once said, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” Explain how you inspired colleagues to accomplish things they didn't think were possible. Recount times you mentored those more junior than you or reverse mentored senior leaders.
8. Ask for Feedback
Leaders don’t shy away from feedback, they request it – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Ask for feedback on your resume. Mention how you coached team members, provided feedback, and invested in their success. This highlights your people management skills.
9. Explain How You Resolved Conflicts
Conflict resolution is an important leadership skill. Describe how you mediated disagreements between colleagues, uniting them behind shared objectives.
10. Express How You Embraced and Managed Change
Change is a constant and it’s also really challenging for many. Leaders are change agents. Discuss how you led teams or colleagues through organisational shifts, while maintaining morale and productivity.
This article was originally published in Forbes.
This article is also available in Chinese.