What Employers Look For In A Job Applicant

May 11, 2015 1 Min Read

Prepare well before the interview

When you go for a job interview, ever consider what is it that the interviewer is looking out for? Is it experience? Willingness to learn?

Is it that one special quality or will it be a combination of things that would help secure you that job?

As Arnie Fertig, in his article “Five Qualities Every Employer Wants in a Job Candidate” explains, preparing for a job interview can be a time-consuming and nerve-wracking experience.

Some people, he says, spend a ridiculous amount of energy trying to prepare and memorise answers for every imaginable interview question.

“It may be better to spend time thinking about the job at hand with a larger lens by stepping back from the particular details and requirements. Ask yourself: ‘If I were the hiring manager, what would be the qualities I’d need to see in a person before I’d be willing to say, ‘You’re hired?’”

The following are examples of qualities that employers are looking for in a potential job candidate.

1. Technical competence

Simply put, it means being good at what you do, says Heera Training and Management Consultancy principal consultant Heera Singh.

“When a person is hired by a company, it is to do a particular job and therefore during interviews, most employers ask questions that are skewed towards ensuring that the candidate has the necessary technical skills and experience to do the job well.

“How good you have been in your previous jobs will usually determine, more than anything else, how good you can be at the job under consideration.”

Experience, Heera adds, forms a very important part of technical competence, and in particular, the quality of the experience – rather than the length of experience.

2. Willingness to learn

An employee that is humble enough to be constantly curious and constantly learning and growing, will always grab the attention of the job interviewer, says Leaderonomics chief executive officer Roshan Thiran.

“Each time I ask people if they love to learn, they all answer yes. What most people forget is that learning is very painful and tough. It requires hard work and practice. Try learning a new language or a new skill. It requires hours of focus, dedication and persistent practice. You can’t be CEO instantly. You have to learn so many things before making the grade to run an organisation. But learning requires sacrifice and time. Getting the big job involves hard work and learning.”

3. Creativity

Fertig says that if everyone who claims to “think out of the box” really did so, there would be nobody left inside it.

“You need to demonstrate your creativity rather than just asserting that you have it. Do you have stories to tell about how you conceived and implemented positive workplace change? Perhaps you have changed how your company’s products or services are produced, packaged or marketed.

“Maybe you came up with ideas about how to shorten production time or eliminate or reduce administrative procedures and red tape. These are all examples of stories you can tell with a great takeaway message.”

4. Positive attitude

A positive attitude assists in employees being motivated to learn new skills, think innovatively, cope with failure and work well with teammates, Heera points out.

“This is a quality that organisations are look for, especially when there are many challenges in the workplace. These challenges and problems can be better tackled with a positive attitude.

“If you ask a manager on the negative characteristics of an employee, he would most probably say characteristics like lazy, irresponsible, bad time keeping, etc. On closer analysis, we can see that these characteristics are not a skill or knowledge problem but are usually an attitude problem. And hence a negative attitude is usually the main reason why employees are ‘bad’.”

5. Ability to execute

Roshan notes that many people are great at starting a project or a piece of work – but not at completing it.

“They manage to do 80% of the work and then somehow cannot complete it. This is because the last 20% is usually the most challenging. For the person who knows how to execute, they become priceless commodities in most organisations.”

6. Able to adapt to changes

As Fertig points out, baby boomers have gone from records to eight tracks, cassettes, CDs and DVDs, to carrying around music on their phones or simply streaming it at will.

His point? Likewise, in the workplace, virtually nothing is done the way it used to be.

“The sound of the music may be the same, but the way you hear it continues to morph.

“Employer demand for people who are whizzes at Excel far surpass the demand for people who excel with their slide rule! No matter what your generation, every employer wants to know that you’re up-to-date with necessary technologies. Moreover, they expect you to be able to show how you will keep that way on an ongoing basis.”

7. Good interpersonal skills

According to Heera, people who have strong interpersonal skills are usually more successful in both their professional and personal lives.

“Employers often seek to hire staff with strong interpersonal skills as they want people who can work well in teams and be able to communicate and interact effectively with superiors, colleagues, customers and clients.

“This is crucial as the workplace today is one where people with different skills come together in teams to achieve organisational objectives. If there are good interpersonal skills prevailing, then the team members will be able to interact more positively and hence achieve their goals more efficiently and effectively.”

Heera says that it is often easier to train people in technical skills versus interpersonal skills (like getting along well with people and communicating effectively).

“Hence this is a skill that most employers look for when they want to hire new people,” he says.

Roshan Thiran is CEO of Leaderonomics, a social enterprise passionate about transforming the nation through leadership development. To engage with him, connect with him via LinkedIn or at www.facebook.com/roshanthiran.leaderonomics. For more insights by Roshan, click here.

Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 9 May 2015

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This article is published by the editors of Leaderonomics.com with the consent of the guest author. 

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