3 Things Employers Look For in an Interview

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Posted by The Editors on December 13, 2011
3 Things Employers Look For in an Interview

It’s all too easy to look at a job interview as an adversarial situation. The interviewer is interrogating you. She’s posing brainteasers and “gotcha” questions. But as tense as the situation might seem, just realize she has one goal in mind: identifying a plausible candidate and hiring that person. She’s seeking someone with a demonstrable capacity for delivering results.

So, give employers what they want and be the candidate they’re looking for. Prepare to shine. Know your strengths and highlight them. Make sure the personal strengths you plan to emphasize in your interview match the demands of the position. On the big day, present yourself as a candidate with the right skills and temperament for the job. Your confidence, enthusiasm, knowledge, and understanding should confirm what your interviewer is already predisposed to believe: that bringing you in for an interview is a wise move and that hiring you is even wiser. 

When interviewing, hiring managers are hoping to explore some basic areas:

Do we want to work with you?
You might enter an interview prepared to recite a litany of skills and work experience, but interviewers aren’t looking for a walking, talking resume. They’re already intrigued by your skills—that’s why they’re interviewing you in the first place. The reason they need to meet with you in person is to gauge your personal qualities, to see if you’ll be an asset to the workplace. Intangible attributes—resourcefulness, initiative, creativity, adaptability, drive, and integrity—will set you apart from other qualified candidates.

Will you mesh with the team?
The corporate workplace is increasingly a team-driven environment. Because of this, organizations are especially eager to hire people whom they think will fit within a team. This might mean a tough adjustment for academic high achievers who are used to working on their own. But as much as interviewers might be gauging your individual strengths, they are also evaluating your ability to be a team player.

What’s your EQ?
Interviewers are probably less interested in your IQ than your EQ—your emotional intelligence. You can have a high IQ and still lack common sense and empathy. Employers are learning that intelligence isn’t always the most desired attribute for prospective employees, especially when it comes at the expense of good sense—after all, perfectly smart people were responsible for the downfall of Lehman Brothers. Although you’ll want to impress your prospective employer with your smarts, you also must convey you are a thoughtful, collegial coworker with a sense of personal responsibility.


For more information on how to build rapport with your interviewer and mastering the art of the Q&A, see the Ace Your Interview Insider Guide.

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