May 2, 2013
What hiring managers are really looking for
To get a good job, you need the right skills, education and experience. But that's not all; employers are also looking for other, fuzzier qualities. Here are some of the biggies, in no particular order:
Judgment. When interviewers ask, "Tell me about a time when you ...," that's your opening to discuss examples of when you showed excellent judgment.
Problem-solving skills. The "tell me about a time" question is also an opportunity to talk about how you effectively handle problems.
Ability to get along with others. A cheerful nature and good manners tell an employer you'll be pleasant to have around. (So be nice to receptionists and assistants.)
Good health. If you have visible health issues, consider preemptively addressing them.
Energy. Humans are drawn to people with energy because it's an upper. Employers are human.
Maturity. Mature people focus on the needs of others; immature people are all wrapped up in themselves. Employers prefer the first one.
Financial responsibility. Many jobs involve a credit check. If you have a problem here, start fixing it.
Follow-through. A good example is writing a thank-you note after the interview.
Ability to handle criticism. When interviewers ask about "your greatest weakness," they want to see that you can recognize you have weaknesses and that you're willing to put in the work to correct them.
Knowledge of the employer's business. This should go without saying.
A rational career trajectory. Learn to talk about your job history in a way that shows growth.
Long-term goals. Discuss your goals in a way that shows you have the smarts to pursue them.
Punctuality. Why you need to be on time for interviews!
Resilience. Think of examples from your personal and work life of how you performed when the going got tough, and work these into the interview.
Attention to detail. Your resume is the classic way to show that you can produce a meticulously accurate product.
Flexibility/adaptability. Interviewers sometimes ask an unexpected or even "crazy" question just to see how you react. This is a time to be your most unflappable.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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