Whether you’re applying for a job or to college, interviews are almost always a crucial part of your evaluation. I have found that being an NASC Distinguished Student Leader gives you opportunities to practice the skills that you would use in an interview, as well as provides you with qualifications that would certainly impress the interviewer.

Though important, your answers to the interview questions will not make or break the interview. The interviewer needs to feel your leadership. Let it shine from within! Talking like a leader is one thing, but to win over the interviewer, you have to be one, right there in that room.

Here are a few ways that you can demonstrate your leadership abilities in an interview:

  • Dress your best, be early (but not too early—10 minutes is appropriate), and use a firm handshake. Be cognizant of the look you have on your face from the minute you step out of your car—make sure you look happy to be there. Let them know you are a leader before you even open your mouth!
  • Believe in yourself, and the interviewer will believe in you. Be confident in your opinions, goals, and ambitions. If you value your own perspectives and goals, you will find it easier to value the perspectives and goals of those around you. Also, be positive! Treat other people you encounter with courtesy and respect. Their opinions of you might be formed during hiring decisions.
  • Demonstrate your connections. Connections make a path for opportunities. Whether in your résumé or when you are chatting with the interviewer, let them know that you are connected with the right people. Leadership is not something that you can possess if you are alone. While having strong connections is important, it is also a great idea to connect with the interviewer. Show them that you can connect with all kinds of people—from children to CEOs.

Being a Distinguished Student Leader gives you plenty of opportunities to practice these skills. When people see that you are a natural leader, they will surely give you a chance in a job or accept you into the college of your dreams.

The NASC Distinguished Student Leaders Program is a challenging national skill- and knowledge-based recognition program created by the National Association of Student Councils to identify outstanding individual student council leaders. Student leaders are challenged to create a portfolio of evidence that demonstrates their completion of a number of activities, including modules on leadership, goal setting, team building, decision making, and much more.

To successfully complete the program, applicants must participate in an assessment meeting with their advisers and principals to verify their completion of all requirements. Student portfolios are then forwarded to NASC for final review. To learn more about the NASC Distinguished Student Leaders Program, visit www.nasc.us/distinguished.

Emma West is an NASC Distinguished Student Leader and a senior at Terry Sanford High School in Fayetteville, NC.