What are some of your leadership experiences?

Employers will ask about your previous leadership experience when you interview for a position as a supervisor or manager, or when they expect you to lead a team on specific projects.

Even if you don’t have specific management experience in a previous role, you probably have experience getting a job done or organizing a project. Highlight your experience and the steps you took to successfully manage your team. Your example will give the interviewer an idea of what to expect if they hire you for the role.

Leadership skills encompass a variety of attributes, including interpersonal communication, conflict resolution, strategic thinking, and negotiation. The right combination of leadership experience and skills allows managers to successfully inspire and motivate their teams to work towards specific goals. Good leaders will also demonstrate accountability for their responsibilities and actions.

10 examples of experience in a leadership role
To determine if you have the experience employers are looking for, consider the following 10 examples:

1. Sports teams
If you’ve been part of a sports team at school or in your community, you may already have experience in a leadership role. Being a captain, vice-captain, or even a long-standing member of the team are all great ways to gain valuable experience. Sports teach you important skills, such as teamwork, communication and integrity, all great qualities for a leader.

If you captained a team or won an award, consider including these accomplishments on your resume to help set you apart from other candidates. You can even mention your experience on a sports team in an interview to discuss what you learned and how it helped you grow.

2. Social groups
Next, consider your hobbies and social groups. If you join a weekly book club, or are part of a regular hiking group, you can gain leadership experience through those activities. Pursuing your hobbies within a social group shows employers that you have good communication and interpersonal skills. This shows them that you can commit to repetitive activities and enjoy a healthy work-life balance.

Employers may ask about your hobbies in an interview to get to know you better and see if your personality fits the company culture. Even if you don’t hold a leadership role in your social group, it’s still a good idea to mention your experience. It shows employers that you’ve taken the time to develop the skills and qualities they’re looking for in a candidate. It can also demonstrate your initiative and ability to handle various tasks and responsibilities.

3. Internship
Internships are one of the best ways to gain experience in your industry. If you are in college or university, you can often pursue an internship through your school. It’s a great way to gain the knowledge you need while getting hands-on experience. Even if you’re not in school, you can still find many internships directly with employers. Internships are usually short-term positions for a few months to a year, so they’re a great way to gain experience quickly.

Completing an internship shows potential employers that you are willing to take the initiative to improve your skills and knowledge, a great trait that all successful leaders share. If you make a good impression during your internship, your employer may be happy to hire you as a full-time employee or give you a reference to help you find another job.

4. Volunteer
Another great way to gain experience in your industry is to volunteer with different organizations. If you’re a student, you don’t have any formal work experience, including internships or volunteer work on your resume can still impress employers. When you offer your services for free as a volunteer, it shows employers that you are passionate about your work and happy to commit to an organization regardless of your financial benefits.

Volunteer work itself is a great example of leadership experience because you take initiative and help others. However, try to be specific when discussing your experience with employers. Think of an instance where you led a team, organized a project or event, or mentored another volunteer. These are great examples of your experience as a leader that you can reference on your resume or in an interview.

5. Student clubs or organizations
Sports teams aren’t the only type of club that employers look for on resumes, as participation in any school club can give you valuable experience as a leader. Consider clubs and organizations such as the debate team, student government, or math club. These types of clubs show employers that you are happy to use your time and energy for activities and work that you are passionate about.

Think about when you played a leadership role in these clubs or organizations. Any time you’ve led a meeting or planned an event is an occasion you’ve gained leadership experience. No matter how small the activity, being in a student club or organization is a great way to gain experience that employers value.

6. Group projects
It is almost impossible to graduate from high school, college or university and not participate in a group project. Teachers encourage students to work together to accomplish certain tasks as many will need to do so in their professional lives as well. If you work in a successful group, whether you lead it or simply participate, you have experience as a leader. You contributed to the team, ensured you met deadlines and developed strong teamwork and communication skills.

7. Training or mentoring new employees
If you have formal work experience, you may have trained or mentored new employees before. Many managers and supervisors pair new employees with an existing team member within their first few weeks at work. You may have taught a new employee the basics of your job, shown them around your workplace, or helped them assimilate into their new environment. These are great examples of being a leader as you lead your new team member to success.

Even being in that position shows that you have good leadership qualities because your boss trusted you and your knowledge. Discuss these examples in your interview to show potential employers that they can trust you too.

8. Personal projects
If you are interested in some kind of project in your personal life, you can gain valuable experience. Maybe you taught yourself to knit and make a blanket, maybe you helped your dad rebuild a car, or you’re writing a book. Mentioning any of your passion projects is a great way to exemplify leadership qualities. Following your passion shows employers that you are able to manage your time well and stay organized, great qualities for a leader.

9. Lead a meeting or presentation
Meetings are frequent both at school and at work. They serve to update or inform the audience about a specific topic, such as the sales numbers the department has to make or the budget meeting for the school play. If you have ever led one of these meetings, you have experience as a leader.

Leading a meeting requires confidence, excellent communication skills and industry knowledge, all qualities that a leader should possess. When discussing this experience in an interview, think of specific examples of successful meetings you led. Talk about why the meeting went smoothly and how you contributed.

10. Cultural activities
Do you have any experience with different cultures? Like participating in cultural events in your community or studying abroad for a semester? These cultural experiences teach you valuable leadership skills and show employers that you can connect with people from different backgrounds. You can learn unique communication skills, especially when there is a language barrier, and improve your interpersonal skills.

Now that we’ve discussed what leadership experience is, explained why it’s important, and shared 10 examples of this experience you may not even know you have, you’ll be better prepared to add this experience to your resume.

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