If you’ve been reading through job listings or employment themed articles lately (maybe on the Simply Hired Blog) you’ve probably come across the term “leadership.” More than just a descriptor for a political figure or industry head, leadership in the career world also entails a kind of magical ability to get things done that can be incredibly valuable for employers looking to bring in new talent. If it’s such an asset to companies, then, just how do you go about demonstrating your leadership skills in the interview or job application setting? Read on for our list of five ways to show you are a leader during your upcoming job interview.
Discuss Past Leadership Accomplishments
The old saying goes that the most successful among the business elite lead by example. This universal truth goes double in the case of demonstrating your leadership capabilities during a job interview.
Instead of telling your interviewer that you have leadership skills, come up with a series of concrete examples based on your past personal and work experiences. While your professional skill set is incredibly important for immediate applicability to the position, personal accomplishments shouldn’t be discounted either. If you’ve successfully led an office team in rolling out a new project, work that in along with your individual role in planning, organizing and implementation. If on the weekends you also lead volunteer activities, coach youth sports, or otherwise act as a leader in your community, this will also be a plus to your potential employer. Well rounded leadership skills demonstrated through actual experiences will have a much bigger impact than words and assurances alone ever could.
State Everything Quantitatively
Sure, you may think that your project or position was an overwhelming success, but if there’s anything modern politics and entertainment news has taught us is that it’s easy to wade into hyperbole in this area. Instead of stating that you were a great role model or leader, put your accomplishments into cold hard numbers and timelines. If an accomplishment resulted in X dollars increase in revenue for your prior employer or saw a Y uptick in sales, be sure to communicate that.
Similarly, be sure to mention the number of people involved in the team you led and lay down timelines in weeks, months and years. This will allow your prospective employer to more easily relate that “huge” accomplishment into real figures that can be applied to their vision of your role in the new position.
Demonstrate an Ability to Act Decisively
Being a great leader isn’t always about the end goal or result. Sure, large projects and accomplishments look great on a resume, but it’s the smaller day in and out tasks that will make up the bulk of your position. Be sure to illustrate your ability to make everyday decisions in addition to communicating the larger successes. Managing one-off customer service issues or dealing with minor but impactful crises demonstrates an ability to act independently in a confidence-building and trustworthy manner that is important to employers looking for leaders to help guide their business. Spend some time coming up with several examples of everyday leadership and be sure to work these in, in addition to the larger or longer-term accomplishments.
Speak Calmly and Confidently
All the work experience and past history of leadership skills won’t mean a whole lot to your potential employer if you don’t exude these qualities during the interview itself. Natural leaders have a calm, easy and confident manner to them that shows whatever their surroundings. While much of this will be your own internal personality, there are several ways to prepare to act like a leader come interview day.
Practice potential interview questions in order to avoid any missteps or awkward pauses in conversation. If you’re interviewing for a new or slightly different job title, be sure to study up on any background knowledge, rules, or procedures that may come up during your interview conversation. Coming off as an expert in your field not only boosts confidence and performance, it also increases your prospective employer’s impression of your ability to act as a leader in both your field and new position.
Show Off Your Passion
One of the key characteristics of leaders is the ability to step out in front of the crowd. With this in mind, it’s important to display a passion for your career and the position you may be interviewing for. At some point during the interview process, you will inevitably be asked: “why do you want to work for this company?” The ability to respond with a set of ready answers that demonstrate your commitment to your field and your excitement for the potential opportunity will score big points with your new employers.
Before your interview, perform some basic due diligence on both the position and company. Look at items such as corporate culture, background, company history, values and more. Finding ways to communicate that you’re excited about the opportunity to work for a company with these ideals as they match up with your own is a key indicator of leadership capabilities that will go a long ways towards helping your convert an interview into a job offer.