Job searching isn’t just about having a solid education or examples of impressive past experience. Although those things are important, personality matters, too.
The good news is, even if you weren’t voted Mr. or Miss Personality in high school, it’s easier than you may think to polish your résumé and brush up on interviewing techniques so you’ll be best positioned to shine when you’re in the spotlight at an important interview.
Below, you can learn about several of the characteristics interviewers like to see, and even better, how to emphasize them so they come across in a genuine way.
Luckily, it’s easy to showcase this trait just by doing most of the things you’ve probably already read about in books or websites filled with interviewing tips. Professionalism starts with the small things, such as making sure to show up on time for the interview and taking care with your appearance.
Do whatever’s necessary so you’re absolutely sure where the interview will be held, and how to get there ahead of time to avoid the possibility of running late on the big day. Also, check that your shoes are scuff-free, your shirt is neatly pressed and your hair is well groomed. Taking those steps shows you care about how you look, and suggests you’d care about doing a good job in the position you’re aiming to get.
A High Energy Level
This characteristic could also be thought of as enthusiasm. That means enthusiasm about the things you’ve done in the past, as well as enthusiasm about the position you want. Get a good night’s sleep the night before the interview so you’ll look well rested. Also, when you’re still at home and preparing for the meeting with the interviewer, practice your tone and approach, either in front of a mirror or in the presence of a friend.
The key to showing that you’re energetic without going over the top is to come across as being engaged and attentive. That’s especially important when going into details about what makes you stand out from other candidates.
A Desire for Lifelong Learning
An interviewer isn’t likely to hire someone who views a college degree as the ultimate expression of concepts learned. Sure, it’s a great accomplishment, but learning can happen online, as you wander around on a hiking trail or while you’re at work. There’s never a good excuse for deciding you’re not interested in learning anything new.
To show the interviewer you’re passionate about continuing to learn for the rest of your life, consider talking about things you learned recently while stepping boldly out of your comfort zone.
Maybe you decided to learn CPR after watching helplessly as a grandfather collapsed in the stands while watching his grandchild play at a soccer game you attended last month, or perhaps you’ve started learning French through an intensive immersion program that has a high rate of student fluency. Speak up about those things so your passion for continual learning is unmistakable.
Even if you’re not interviewing for a managerial role, interviewers still want to see you’re capable of inspiring others around you and mobilizing them to take action. Prepare at least one example of a time in your life when you focused on a vision that involved input from others, then helped those people feel equipped to join you in making that aspiration come to pass.
If you can successfully convey an ability to lead others when you speak to the interviewer, you’ll also be bringing out other traits that are implied by people who are good leaders. If you’re able to encourage people to follow you in meeting a common goal, that probably means you’re also a good team player and someone who can relate well to others.
Strong Communication Skills
Perhaps you don’t have an extremely extensive vocabulary or the ability to have a quick response to everything the interviewer throws your way, but communicating with thoughtfulness and confidence is essential. Get someone to act as an interviewer as you practice at home, and ask him or her to offer feedback based on how well you answer questions with clarity and self-assuredness.
Good at Solving Problems
This may be an instance where you can showcase your creativity. Unexpected issues arise in every industry and workplace, so you can be sure problems will come your way eventually.
Interviewers like to see candidates who think of problems as exciting challenges, not things to stress about. Try to come up with several scenarios where you thrived under pressure and beat the odds to handle something that previously seemed like an impossible barrier. Being a good problem-solver doesn’t always mean following rigid rules, but it usually requires a go-getter attitude and a lack of fear.
Now that you’re aware of what most interviewers look for in their top choice candidates, you should feel well prepared to edit parts of your résumé and alter your approach to answering questions. You want to make it clear to the interviewer that you not only possess these highly sought, characteristics but are eager to bring them to the forefront while at work.
Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and career blogger at Punched Clocks, a job search and career blog all about finding career happiness and success. For more from Sarah, subscribe to her blog and follow her on Twitter @SarahLandrum