Hunting for a job can be a tremendously frustrating process. Most of it involves reaching out to potential employers, sharing your resume and references, and waiting. There’s a lot of waiting. At the same time, much of the process occurs in silence. So when an employer reaches out and asks to set up an interview, it can be a little startling, not to mention intimidating. At the interview itself, they ask the questions, and you give the answers. And even though you’re finally communicating, it’s hard to know what they’re looking for in your answers. To help you figure it all out, we share four things employers look for in a job applicant.
Personality affects every human interaction. If you’re open and cheerful, most people will respond positively. But employers aren’t (always) just looking for a friendly face. They also try to feel out whether you’ll fit into the company’s culture. Some positions may require a more serious personality type, so communicate your professionalism without seeming stand-offish. Ultimately, every company’s culture is different, so it might be worth asking how they do things there and about the sort of people they tend to hire. Don’t fake a personality just to get a job. Find a job that matches your personality.
Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking
This is one of those things that should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. Display knowledge of your subject matter without seeming arrogant. Employers want to know if you can think quickly and figure out solutions to common problems in their business. Be ready to tell the story behind your resume. Don’t just say you went to a great school or worked an impressive position; let them know what you learned there and how it will benefit them.
Honesty and Integrity
Background checks can go far back and show whether you have a criminal record, but they don’t say who you are. During the interview, employers will ask questions about ethical quandaries to see what you say and how you react. For example, they may ask how you’d react if another employee did something that violated company policy. Or they might ask how you’d handle a challenge solvable through unethical means. Above all, sell yourself, but don’t fib or exaggerate. Getting caught in a lie can end an interview rather quickly.
The last of our four things employers look for in a job applicant is an important one. Even if you’re not applying for a management role, employers respect potential leaders. They may want someone who’s willing to take the initiative and run projects without constant input and approval from a supervisor. Employers are also looking to the future. So if they find a diamond in the rough, they’ll hire that person and potentially put them on the fast track. Be prepared to share stories of projects you’ve overseen, especially ones involving multiple parts and players. Be boss material without being bossy!