While every hiring manager tends to look for something a little different in a candidate for their open job, here are the six traits I've consistently seen managers look for as they conduct interviews.
TRAIT #1: Job Skills and Qualifications
REASON: Seems like a no-brainer, right? But when an employee doesn't work out because they don't possess the basic requirements of the job, it can be painful (and costly) for the organization to either coach the individual up or replace them. Since hiring can be risky, hiring managers often fall back to passing on an individual if they aren't sure they have the technical and people skills.
HOW TO SHINE: Read the job description before the interview; it will give you a very clear idea of the hard and soft skills the employer needs for the role. Eliminate the hiring manager's doubt by preparing and providing concrete examples of how you have used these skills in the past.
TRAIT #2: Likeability
REASON: No secret here. People like to work with people they like, who fit into the culture of the organization. Since a hiring manager will be spending more than a third of their life with anyone they hire and team chemistry matters, they may prioritize personality as highly as they do technical skills.
HOW TO SHINE: Use the manners your mother and father gave you. Smile. Be polite. Dress nicely for the interview. Send thank you notes. Come armed with great job references from former managers and coworkers who can gush at length about what a pleasure it was to work with you. And do your research about the culture of the company, so that you can talk about how well you'll fit in.
TRAIT #3: Team Orientation
REASON: Does the candidate know how to work well with others? In this age of cross-functional collaboration, teamwork isn't just a nice-to-have, it's essential.
HOW TO SHINE: Demonstrate that you've been able to move seamlessly into different working relationships based upon the needs of the situation. Talk about the times you've led, the times you've been led, and how you've partnered successfully with your peers to get the job done.
TRAIT #4: Energy
REASON: The workplace tends to be a fast paced environment with heavy expectations, and a low-energy interview may work against a candidate. A calm and measured demeanor may be great for some roles (librarians and brain surgeons come to mind), but positions with rapid-fire deadlines require a bit more pizazz.
HOW TO SHINE: Convey a sense of excitement and animation during the interview. Sit forward in your chair. Provide examples of how you dealt with tight deadlines, adapted to fast-moving work environments, and successfully brought programs to conclusion.
TRAIT #5: Adaptability
REASON: Companies change priorities – often – and they need employees who can change right along with them. If hired, how will the candidate deal with frequent reorganizations, new assignments, and shifting deadlines?
HOW TO SHINE: Talk about the times you've had to adjust to shifting responsibilities and expectations, and how you managed to succeed in spite of these.
TRAIT #6: Growth Potential
REASON: In other words, is the candidate promotable, or will they spend the rest of their life in the role for which they get hired? Managers are often judged for their ability to identify and groom the next superstar.
HOW TO SHINE: Provide examples of people you've managed, mentored, and coached. Make sure your resume shows career progression, with added responsibility over a period of time. Were you an individual contributor (i.e., non-manager)? Talk about projects you've managed.
Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.