How to Present Yourself as a Candidate with High Growth Potential (6 Tips)

Woman sitting on a desk with a plant and laptop. She looks at her phone as she holds a mug that says "Like a Boss."

Tell me you want to be a leader without telling me you want to be a leader.

If you were given this prompt before an interview, what would you do? How would you act? What behaviors would you avoid or embrace? What tone would you use and what professional experience would you talk about?

I’ve been a talent acquisition specialist at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS) since 2016 and I’ve sat across from many candidates — some of whom I expected great things and some of whom I didn’t expect to make it past the second round of interviews. 

I have a good feel for which candidates will work hard and go far and which candidates simply want to clock in and out each day and put forth the absolute minimum effort. 

The candidates who’ve soared into leadership positions (and I’ve seen plenty of them go from entry-level sales team members to managers or directors) exhibited these six characteristics and skills: 

  1. Great attitude
  2. Willingness to learn
  3. Adaptability
  4. Strong networking skills
  5. Strong communication skills
  6. Professional experience

When you demonstrate these characteristics and skills, it becomes clear you have some major potential and aren’t looking to sit in an entry-level seat forever. If you have high hopes for your career and your vision board is full of high-power leaders, these are the ways you can present yourself as a high-growth candidate without jumping out of your chair and yelling: "PLEASE MAKE ME A LEADER IN THE COMPANY!"

Review these tips before your next interview and you’ll be perfectly prepared to present yourself as the high-potential candidate you are. 

6 Ways to Show Your Potential as a Candidate

Before we dive in, let’s start with honesty. There are two types of candidates. There is a candidate who’s a mover and shaker. They have plans to conquer the world one rung of the ladder at a time. They’re the candidates who are looking to move their careers forward quickly and move up in the company.  

Then, there are the candidates who are fulfilled by clocking in and out every day doing a job they love. They’re happy just where they are. 

Both candidates are fine. 

However, if you’re looking to convey your potential in an interview without actually saying that you’d like to be the CEO one day, here’s how you can do it.

1. Have a Great Attitude

A great attitude and personal philosophies are major attributes to personal success and growth. People tend to flock to positive people and want to be around them. They also tend to follow them. A poor attitude, on the other hand, doesn’t make for a great leader. 

Having the ability to inspire others through personal actions and being an active listener takes time and personal practice to develop.  

Employers can quickly spot these talents in candidates. Smiling in an interview is one of the best ways to demonstrate you have high growth potential.  

Actively listening and acknowledging what the person is saying are methods to reinforce this. Controlling non-verbal body language and posture helps to showcase you can deliver results. 

Customer service representative looking at her computer screen.

2. Demonstrate a Willingness to Learn 

A willingness to learn is key to your success as you climb the ladder within a company. 

Your willingness to learn can be clearly communicated through your resume or employment application. List your college degree, certifications, relevant coursework, and any special seminars you have completed.  

Talk about ideas and focus on big-picture development. This can be further defined by the person you are speaking with asking deeper questions to gain more details about your knowledge base. 

If there’s a part of the job you’ll have to learn, use your previous professional experience to explain how you’re not only willing to learn, but you’ve done it before to master a new skill.

3. Show Your Adaptability 

Adaptability is crucial in leadership. Keeping up-to-date on current trends and strategies is a perfect way to remain open to new ideas and concepts. With a global marketplace and economy, change is constant. If you can’t adapt, you’ll fall behind. That doesn’t make for a high-potential employee. 

In your interview, provide examples of how you’ve adjusted to or implemented change in your work or volunteering. 

4. Strong Networking Skills

Networking with people is an impactful way to connect and meet new contacts. Generally speaking, people like to do business with people they know and trust or share common interests with.  

There are a multitude of opportunities to get involved with civic, religious, and professional/industry associations to help facilitate your desire to grow.    

Actively participating in them, at various levels, can help boost leadership skills, connect with key influencers, and improve contacts and relationships. 

If you’ve done this work, show it and talk about it. The experience should go on your resume. Take the opportunity to bring it up during your interview if possible. 

The time you’ve taken to network won’t go unnoticed. It lets hiring managers know you’re willing to put in the work to advance personally and professionally. 

A group of diverse men and women in business clothing smiling at the camera with their arms crossed confidently.

5. Show Your Professional Experience 

Your resume will most likely speak for itself here, but in an interview, you have the opportunity to communicate your responsibilities and knowledge from previous jobs.  Employers place a lot of emphasis on previous work experience when selecting candidates. 

After all, your experience likely directly correlates to what the position you’re interviewing for requires. Employers want to know you can do the job. While many companies are willing to train new employees, it’s always a bonus if you have that knowledge base. 

Each question you’re asked is an opportunity to discuss how your previous experience taught you something and helped you grow into the high-potential candidate you are today. If you can talk about how your previous professional experience will serve you well in the position you’re interviewing for, go for it.

I’m certainly not encouraging you to embellish, but if you can tie in your experience to the questions they’re asking, do it. Be truthful about what you worked on and accomplished. 

6. Communicate Effectively and Professionally

You can do each of the steps mentioned above, but if you’re not communicating effectively, it won’t do you much good. 

Professional communication is important in all stages of a career. First impressions are lasting impressions.  

Before you interview, research the company and know your audience. Come prepared with details about the company, including its mission, values, history, and programs. You’ll not only get a good feel for whether you align with the company, but you’ll also impress your interviewers and come off as very professional. 

Avoid sloppy language when you speak (for example, “yur” instead of your). Excessive use of “like” and “umm” should also be avoided. The best way to sample this speaking pattern is to record your answers and listen back to them. 

Speak clearly and be succinct. I can promise you this: No hiring manager wants to hear you talk for 20 minutes about the life-changing college internship you did in South Africa a decade ago.

While fascinating, you’ll have taken up a large chunk of your interview talking about one thing. The hiring manager may not get to all their questions and you can therefore ruin your chances because they won’t have gotten the opportunity to learn more about you.

The way you dress speaks for itself. Dressing and looking professional demonstrates you’re able to learn, grow, and lead. 

It’s not just how you present yourself in an interview. It goes further than that. You should also be selective about what you post on social media. Many companies will look you up on social media. Your social media presence can either make you or break you. 

For example, one candidate might use their expertise to write informative posts on LinkedIn — providing a learning opportunity for their followers. Another candidate may only post controversial opinions and inappropriate photos. You can probably guess as to what looks better to a recruiter. 

Man and woman viewing a tablet screen together.

Blow Your Interviewers Out of the Water

In the pursuit of career advancement, signaling leadership potential can be achieved through subtle yet impactful means. As a talent acquisition specialist with a keen eye for promising candidates, I've observed that embodying certain qualities can effectively convey your readiness for growth within an organization.

By embodying attributes such as positivity, eagerness to learn, adaptability, strong networking skills, solid professional experience, and effective communication, candidates like you can convey their readiness for growth within an organization. 

These qualities, when authentically expressed, not only hint at ambitions for leadership but also cultivate a reputation as valuable assets to any team or company.

In your next interview or professional interaction, let your actions and demeanor subtly articulate your aspirations and capacity for leadership. By doing so, you not only position yourself for future opportunities but also contribute to a culture of excellence and innovation within your chosen field. 

Remember, true leadership often speaks louder through actions than words, so let your journey toward success be guided by your unwavering commitment to personal and professional growth.

For additional interview tips, download the Interview Etiquette Guide for free.

Tags: Career Resources

Shannon Templin

Written by Shannon Templin

As a talent acquisition specialist — a position he's held since 2016 — Shannon works, alongside colleagues, to connect job candidates with their best-fit position within ATS. In his role, Shannon enjoys assisting each new candidate toward their career goals and does everything in his power to set each candidate up for long-term professional success.

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