In this blog, I try to make it a combination of work and play. For most of us, that’s what our lives primarily consist of working our real-time jobs and then whatever we do outside of work, which isn’t always “play” or fun, but you get the idea!
Since I am a recruiter and interview people all day every day, I give career advice and interview advice from what I have experienced in hopes that it will help you when the time comes.
Today I want to talk about the characteristics that make you a really attractive candidate to a hiring manager and they are characteristics that you have to build up over a longer period of time. Writing thank you’s and preparing for interviews will definitely help you move forward during the interview process. But I would like to focus on the characteristics or traits that you have worked on repeatedly, (hopefully) throughout your career, that you didn’t always see an immediate reward for, but will make you stand out in a hiring managers eyes.
These are the top traits that an interviewer looks for when conducting an interview. The things that you have to work towards your entire life and career. The intangibles that will make you the most attractive candidate.
Can you do the job?
This seems like the dumbest question to ask – but it’s one of the most important. Can you actually do the job you applied for, or have been recruited on? Very rarely will your “soft skills” or your ability to pick up on new things quickly, get you the job. If a hiring manager is looking to fill an engineering position or a developer and you don’t have an engineering background and you can’t code… then you can’t actually do the job. Often times when hiring managers are searching for a person in a specific position, they need that person to be able to come in and almost hit the ground running. They are not expecting you to know what the company does right away, but to at least have the skills to get the job done.
No matter how much the market is changing, and companies are evolving, or the circumstance at hand, hiring managers are STILL NOT interested in job hoppers.
The definition of a job hopper will vary drastically from one person to another, but my personal rule of thumb is that if you have moved from one job to the next every 1-2 years, you look like a job hopper.
Being in recruiting for years I have heard every story in the book as to WHY someone moved from one job to the next, and some are very legitimate and we can explain. But at first glance, it still doesn’t look great. If we see that you have 10 years of constant job movement, maybe you should be vetting out your next job more carefully to make sure it really is a good move.
This sounds negative, but it’s an elephant in the room and one of the biggest reasons a hiring manager won’t be interested in a candidate. So I really want to make sure you are conscious of it when making a career step.
On the other hand, if a hiring manager sees that you have been at a company for 3-6 years, they think the exact opposite. They see someone who has stuck it out through the hard times, someone who took the time to learn and grow within a company, and who contributed years of their career to make it a better place. Someone they want to hire.
Sometimes when we stop and try to see it from their perspective, we can better understand why they would feel that way and how we can better make decisions moving forward.
Having a positive outlook isn’t something that is only talked about in self-help or fru fru stuff. It’s legit and needed in the workplace. As you all know, “fires” or problems arise all the time. It’s inevitable and none of us can hide from it or control it, but what we can control is how we act or react when faced with adversity.
If you are the type of person to freak out when shit hits the fan, no one really wants you on their team, because they have to pick you up and calm you down while they are trying to figure out a solution themselves. On the other hand, if you are the type to look at a problem or unfortunate situation head-on thinking of solutions or the lessons learned, people will naturally be drawn to you needing that positivity to keep pushing them forward.
Having a positive outlook and a can-do attitude is essential, and hiring managers can pick up on that just by how you talk about previous roles or situations you have worked through.
Are you picking out the positive or the negative? Are you focusing on where you learned and could improve or where you lost?
I have never met a hiring manager that doesn’t love or respect a hard worker. Some colleagues might get jealous or poke fun to settle their own insecurities to make themselves feel better, but that has never happened with a hiring manager.
Your work ethic and how much of a driver you are comes through in an interview and is applicable to any job. You know exactly who I am talking about too. It’s the person in the office who comes in early, or work late, and is just always giving it their all. Hiring managers are never going to be upset about that and will bend over backward to keep employees like that happy or to get someone interested in joining their team.
A hard worker doesn’t only yield results faster, but it also brings the entire team motivation and overall energy to a level higher. If everyone is goofing around in the office and not getting their work done, then there is less pressure to get back to your desk. Whereas if there is one person grinding away, and hitting their goals and numbers while you sit and talk at your desk then there is a little bit of a nudge to get back to work to keep up.
Aka – Can we work together? As you all know, the people you work with or see in the office, you spend WAY more time with than your actual family and friends. Since you spend so much time together it is crucial that you actually like each other and can get along.
This one is typically harder to vet for. Everyone is their own unique person, and no one ever wants you to change who you are, and it really depends on whether you just click with the hiring manager or not and if you have some of the basic qualities that a company is looking for.
For example, many companies today have a “no asshole” policy. There is no specific guideline or tool kit to follow to figure out if someone is an asshole or not, you just know or you don’t know.
From a hiring perspective, a good way to be sure you like someone is to have the candidate interview with multiple people at a company to make sure the stories stay consistent and you get multiple opinions on a candidate. This is never guaranteed to give you perfect results, but it will at least give you back up behind your ultimate decision.
If you are the candidate interviewing for a job, if you have been a good person your whole life and you are kind and work hard you are probably going to be fine. But what is most important here, is to just be yourself. If you aren’t clicking with a team or meshing with a hiring manager it probably isn’t the best place for YOU.
Remember interviewing is a two-sided sale. BOTH parties have to be interested in each other to officially make a match.
How you have performed in a previous role or in anything in life, is likely a good indication of how you will perform in the future. History repeats itself. In the past, if you were a really hard worker with a positive attitude and didn’t give up until a goal was accomplished or an initiative met, you will likely act the same way when faced with another problem.
If the opposite happens and you dodge conflict, or are always late with deadlines and blaming others for things that come up, you will likely continue to do that in your next role.
Now with that said, there are always tough work environments or circumstances outside of our control that hinder us from hitting a goal. But like I said in the job hopper bullet, if this is continually happening job after job then a hiring manager is going to get suspicious on where the blame should really lie.
Hiring managers want top performers so that the top performers could help them meet their own objectives and goals, and will be a good influence on their team.
In general, whenever you are interviewing for your next job the only thing that you can do is your best. Put your best foot forward and show up to every interview prepared and ready to show them the best version of yourself.
From now on, in your current role and every role moving forward, if you are consciously thinking about and working towards these long term characteristics to be the best version of yourself then no matter where you go or where you are, you will be valued and you will make your way to the top.
Until next time, stay classy. 😎