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Goldman Sachs International

Application tips: tell Goldman Sachs you’re a leader in 100 words

The best examples are those where you have led people and your leadership made a direct contribution to the team’s success.

The application form for both graduate and internship positions at Goldman Sachs includes a section in which you’re asked to ‘inform us of any leadership roles you have held in the past two years’.

What is leadership experience?

Leadership is the application of certain skills, qualities and knowledge to ensure optimum performance and the best possible result are achieved from people.


  • identify and understand the objective
  • plan to achieve the goal
  • consider potential obstacles or constraints
  • establish where outside assistance might be needed
  • delegate responsibility appropriately and fairly
  • make and implement decisions
  • give clear direction and encourage communication
  • monitor progress
  • intervene when necessary
  • trust others to use their judgment
  • give feedback
  • show appreciation
  • meet deadlines.

The best examples are those where you have led people and your leadership made a direct contribution to the team’s success. They can be taken from your university, work, extracurricular or personal experiences.

Perhaps during an academic group project your team was presented with an obstacle and you made a quick decision and took effective action on behalf of your peers.

Why did you take action? How did you come to a decision? How did you persuade your peers that this was the best action to take? What steps did you take to resolve the problem? What was the outcome?

Why has Goldman Sachs asked about my leadership experience?

Goldman Sachs doesn’t expect you to be able to lead a team or project immediately – you’ll undergo training for around 12 months if you’re a graduate recruit.

Goldman Sachs wants to find out if you have leadership potential because, should you be employed permanently, it’ll enable you to make a greater contribution to the business.

An associate at Goldman Sachs, who has been with the bank for five years, told TARGETjobs that leadership is one of the essential skills an employee should have.

Further into his career with Goldman Sachs, he was asked by management to set up a new venture for the bank. This is the type of project you could lead in the future if you have this competency.

What if I don’t have a leadership example?

You don’t actually need to have led a team in order to convince Goldman Sachs that you possess leadership skills. You have more than likely developed some of the skills listed above outside of an explicit leadership position.

Mull over the list and think about a time that you have displayed any of those skills. Did you intervene when the group was going off track? Did you motivate colleagues when they were losing enthusiasm? Or perhaps you recognised the contribution others made and praised their work?

How can I answer the question in only 100 words?

With only 100 words to play with, describing how you have demonstrated leadership skills won’t be a walk in the park.

After you have decided on an example, use the STAR method to ensure you write a succinct and focused response.

  1. Situation: set the context in which you had the experience. For example: ‘Due to complete the final pages of our website, a colleague lost the disk on which the related data was saved.’
  2. Task: what was required of you. For example: ‘It was my responsibility to build and maintain webpage links and upload images, which I did.’
  3. Activity: what you actually did. For example: ‘I had also developed a few basic webpage templates earlier in the process that could have been easily adapted should the group have needed them. I extended our deadline and got the team to use my templates to finish the project.’
  4. Result: the outcome. For example: ‘We submitted a complete website just a few hours after the deadline, and the recipient was pleased and recommended us to a contact.’

The example above comes in at around 100 words, which shows it is possible to provide a detailed answer within the limited word count.

What’s more, included in the example are other competencies that Goldman Sachs wants candidates to have, such as:

  • Technical skills (technology and human capital management divisions)
  • Highly motivated (finance division)
  • Sound judgement (global compliance division)
  • Innovative and driven (operations division).
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