What Are Some of Your Leadership Experiences? With Examples

Updated 20 July 2023

When interviewing for a job that involves some form of management, the hiring manager may ask about your leadership experience. You can draw on previous experiences to demonstrate your leadership qualities, such as an occasion in which you remained calm under pressure or led a team to its desired goals. Knowing how to outline your experience in a leadership role can help you find success with an application to a similar role. In this article, we discuss why leadership experience is important, outline how to organise your leadership experience and provide examples of answers you can give in an interview.

Why do hiring managers ask ‘What are some of your leadership experiences?’

Hiring managers may ask you ‘What are some of your leadership experiences?’ because the role they're looking to fill requires a candidate who can effectively manage a team and they require proof of your ability to do this. Leadership experience can show a hiring manager that an employee is loyal to the company and is a good investment of time and money. Experience in leadership can also show that a candidate has the potential for promotion into more senior positions in the company.

Organisations searching to fill a leadership role typically seek an employee who can prove they're able to make decisions and judgement calls in unique situations. Anecdotes and evidence illustrating this ability demonstrate they can remain calm and act decisively under pressure. Experience as a leader can show that a company can trust a candidate to think and plan for risks, evaluate situations and act independently if required.


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How to answer ‘What are some of your leadership skills?’

A hiring manager who's asking about your leadership experience is typically interested in your capacity to lead and manage a team to the successful completion of a project or goal. These attributes are important to a company because it shows that you have the necessary skills to work independently. There are a variety of ways you can think about your experience of working as a leader. Here's a look at what you might consider in preparation for an interview:

1. Consider all of your past roles as a leader

Think of all your experiences that involved you coordinating people or managing a situation. Your experience might directly relate to a professional leadership role, such as being the manager of a hotel with a staff of 10 or more employees or leading a sales team. If you're an entry-level candidate with little or no formal experience as a leader in a professional area, you can consider instances that might not be relevant but still apply. These might include being captain of the football team in school or organising a holiday and activities with friends or family.

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2. Highlight your willingness and ability to work as a part of a team

Even if the role you're applying for is specifically a role in leadership, make sure to emphasise your ability to be a competent part of a team and to support other members. Many companies look for a leader who works well within a team, rather than one that directs solely from the outside. For example, you may highlight your experience working with managers who had a poor relationship with the employees and note that you've learned that a more integrated and communication-strong approach is the best way to achieve positive outcomes.

Related: 13 Key Leadership Competencies for Career Progression

3. Provide an overview of when you've achieved a goal

A hiring manager may want to know the process you undertake in guiding a project to its completion. You can use a specific technique called the situation, task, action and result (STAR) method to outline how you oversaw a project from start to finish, with an example of when you implemented it. For example, a bar you worked at may have wanted to attract new customers. You can explain how you organised and ran a social media campaign and what the results were, specifically highlighting that there was an increase in sales over a month.

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4. Consider how and why you delegated tasks to specific employees

A hiring manager may want to know your reasoning for selecting specific employees to perform roles in a project. This can show them that you have good empathetic skills and understand the strengths and weaknesses of the employees you work with. For example, if you were the head chef in a kitchen, you can explain how you assigned tasks and organised members of the team into different roles. This can demonstrate your delegation skills, highlighting how you maintained awareness of your team's knowledge and experience and utilised their skills under pressure.

Related: How Can Laissez-Faire Leadership Be Effective in the Workplace?

5. Highlight details about successful projects or goals

You may impress a hiring manager by quantifying the results of a project you oversaw. These details clearly define the exact outcome of a project and highlight your abilities in a monetary or percentage format. For example, if you led a team of salespeople at a car dealership, you may highlight an increase of 32 cars sold per month and an annual customer increase of 65%.

Related: 12 Important Leadership Goals (Your Ultimate Guide)

Examples of leadership experience answers

Outlining your leadership experience in a clear and concise way is important. In an interview, a hiring manager may require not only an example of your history of working as a leader, and also a clear outline of your role in overseeing a project or goal from start to finish. The more clearly you can explain your answer, the better your chances of coming across as confident and professional, which can give you the best chance of success with your application. Here's a look at some examples of how to answer any questions about your leadership experience:

Example 1

Here's an example of leadership experience from the hospitality industry:

'During my employment as head chef at Big Bread, Big Bone hotel and bar, my role was to create a new dinner menu every evening with local, seasonal ingredients. I used my experience and skills to coordinate a standing staff of eight and a rotating staff of four to manage the sourcing of ingredients and the training of staff according to the menu. I encouraged staff to brainstorm ideas and to express themselves creatively when formulating the menu. The reputation of the business grew and saw an increase of customers by 32% in one quarter'.

Related: The Importance of Leadership Skills on Your Resume

Example 2

Here's an example from a non-professional background in leadership experience:

'During my tenure as captain of the division one Adelaide Thunder Hawks football team, management required me to provide on-field and locker room leadership to the team and increase morale after a previously poor season. I spent time with each player, asking about their physical and mental health and coordinated with the coach about specific on-field adjustments depending on the strengths of the players. I encouraged the team to give feedback and opinions about strategy and helped the coach coordinate with them. We saw a 35% increase in training attendees and a semi-final placement'.

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Example 3

Here's an example of leadership in a corporate setting:

'The company I worked for, Bright and Clear Toothpaste, tasked me with creating and overseeing an advertising campaign to increase annual brand awareness and sales. I collaborated with marketing professionals and organised a team specialising in the various fields. The team brainstormed and coordinated ideas and I worked closely with them to organise the best possible strategy. We successfully launched the campaign, which increased brand awareness by 48% and sales by 23%'.

Related: Interview Question: 'Why Do You Want to Be a Leader?'

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