That’s why we ask every hiring manager to tell us about the qualities they value most in recent college graduates and other relatively inexperienced job candidates. We ask them initially and regularly thereafter to track how these desired traits change according to economic cycles and business trends, and to identify matching candidates. Managers provide us with many answers, and five of the most consistent responses we hear are intangible traits that relate to a candidate’s personality and character:
- Team player
If you have ever been part of an athletic or academic team, you know how important it is to master your assigned role in order to help your team win. The team concept is just as important in the workplace. Most valuable employees don’t strive for individual glory; they seek to understand processes, perfect their positions, and collaborate effectively with co-workers. They genuinely like the people they work with and want everyone to succeed. If you haven’t had much experience with teamwork, that’s okay. During job interviews, ask questions about the people you’ll be working with and demonstrate a sincere desire to be a selfless team contributor.
- Eager to learn
During interviews, employers respond well to candidates who demonstrate a healthy balance between confidence in their potential and modesty about their experience. Hiring managers tend to prefer candidates with raw intelligence and a willingness to learn new skills and processes. Why? Many employers have had poor experiences with difficult workers who “knew it all” and were stubborn about adapting to change.
Employers look for flexibility in the variety of positions a candidate is ready to learn. Express a willingness to be trained in more than one position, to learn a wide variety of tasks, and to meet the demands of every situation. Versatile workers can step into other roles as necessary to keep a business humming. From a manager’s perspective, a team of versatile, flexible workers gets more done and responds well to challenges.
- Upbeat personality
Happy employees make their co-workers happier and unhappy employees do just the opposite. Upbeat employees enjoy their work and are more productive. They stay in their jobs longer and have a contagious effect on managers, co-workers, clients, partners, and customers. So it’s no wonder that candidates with a positive attitude and a sincere smile get hired.
Assertive workers don’t wait to be told what needs to be done; they take the initiative themselves. Companies prefer workers that require less managing. They also need employees that can be promoted, and assertiveness is an indication of intelligence and leadership ability. Demonstrate an appropriate level of assertiveness by researching the company prior to the interview and asking informed questions.
Assertiveness is one of the most important qualities on this list, but it could be the #1 reason why you get hired. Finish your job interviews on a high note by reminding the employer why you would succeed in the role and be a great culture fit. Then, with a smile, assert your desire to be a part of the team!