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What Employers Are Looking for in a Job Interview

A job interview is your chance to shine. It may not be the only decider, but it can certainly make or break a lot of possibilities for employment. Therefore, you have to be on your A-game when you go in, whether it’s a one-on-one, panel, or remote interview.

Your success depends on knowing what the interviewer is looking for. To that end, we’ve put together a checklist of the 10 things they most desire. If you don’t exhibit these characteristics, you’ll have a difficult time standing out from the competition. Let’s begin!

1. Punctuality

Being on time says a lot about your ability to do the job. If your heart isn’t in it, then you’re not going to do anything well. And if you care so little that you refuse to show up on time, then how could your heart possibly be in it?

One of the most important things you can do to exhibit punctuality in the job interview is to show up with a little time to spare. Aim for 15 minutes before. Ten is okay. This gives you an opportunity to be seated, get comfortable in the environment, and lay the ball in the court of your interviewer.

If they want to get to you early (and can), you’ve given them the option. If you’re unfamiliar with where you’re going, do a test run the night before. Also, leave extra early to account for any unexpected traffic fluctuations.

2. Decision-Making Skills

Another job interview attribute to show off is your decision-making abilities. This goes beyond telling the interviewer what you do well. They want to “see” it in action.

Think of a time that you were the lead decision-maker on something. It could be an individual or team project. What were the specific steps you took to accomplish your goal? Did you succeed or fail?

It’s okay to share examples of both so long as you can articulate what you learned from it. If you can show “growth” in your answer, it can be as effective as bragging about something that you did well.

To handle this question effectively, you will need to practice ahead of time. Don’t just try to “wing it.” Inevitably, you’ll sound like you’re making it up, and the answer itself will be shallow and unengaging. If at all possible, try to tie your examples into the type of job you’re interviewing for.

3. How You Get Along with Co-Workers

Building a relationship is one of the most important skills that you can learn to advance your career. When you build relationships, you become better at asking for help. You also become someone that others want to see succeeds.

Getting along with your co-workers will mean they set you up for success. And the best way to get there is to have that same attitude towards them. You want to foster a genuine sense of empathy and selflessness. But the “trick” is that it has to be sincere. Otherwise, people will be able to pick up on it.

4. How You Respond to Adversity

We all have experienced low points in life. It can happen in work, family life, relationships — you name it. If you’re the type of person who gives up at the first sign, then you’re not going to make for a very attractive candidate. But if you’re the type who can (and has) pulled themselves up by the proverbial bootstraps, then you’ve got something you can build on.

Word of warning, though: don’t play the poor-pitiful-me card. You will need to keep your tone positive. Reject the victim mentality. Approach the answer from how you seized on the opportunity to improve the situation. Not on how unfair it all was. Even if you’re justified in feeling that way, it turns off others, especially those who don’t know you.

5. Whether They Can Trust You

Every place of employment is going to need a certain degree of discretion from its employees. No one wants to give away their trade secrets. Doing that means you lose the competitive advantage over other companies in your market. If you’re a blabbermouth, it can mean dollars and cents and, in the case of law enforcement careers, life, death, and lawsuits.

The best way to show your trust is to point to other examples of people who’ve trusted you before. Show how you didn’t let them down. Share specific examples. And to cut back on complications, make sure they’re honest examples. The world is more connected than ever before. You never know when a lie grounded in reality can be revealed by a shared social network.

6. If You Can Separate What You Want from What They Want

One who goes to work for themselves has the ability to be One with their business. You may not have that option when you work for someone else. Bosses may have viewpoints and make decisions you don’t agree with. And while they cannot take away your personal freedoms for disagreeing with them, they could very well take away your position.

Your best bet is to never take anything too personally. In the military, there is a saying that one should “support the chain of command.” That doesn’t mean you always have to agree. But you do have to adhere to certain guidelines. Namely, if it’s not illegal or immoral, you should be willing to do whatever is asked of you even if you wouldn’t make that judgment call yourself.

7. How Long You Plan on Hanging Around

No one wants to pour a lot of resources into a candidate, hire them, then watch them walk away in a year or less. They want to know that you’ll be worth the investment of trust, time, and money. At the same time, you don’t want to give the impression that you’re the type of person who never wants to do anything different with your career.

See, businesses change. Technologies change. Those who cannot adapt to it through continuing education and a willingness to grow are destined for the unemployment line. What you need to do is impress upon them that you want to hang around provided the opportunities for growth are still there.

8. The Extent of Your Skills and Knowledge

You may be able to fake a certain degree of your skills and qualifications, but if you’re unable to demonstrate the scope the job requires, it will show itself at some point in the process. God help you if it’s after the job begins. You won’t be there very long if that’s the case, and that can be disastrous to your prospects of getting another job in the future. 

The lesson: be honest about your capabilities, and you won’t have an unreal set of expectations foisted upon you. Be as extensive as you can, but don’t pretend that you know how to do something you don’t unless you’re 110 percent ready to become an expert by your start date should they decide to take a chance on you.

9. How Well Your Skills Align with the Company

If your main skill set is cooking, that’s not going to matter much for a job in media. Don’t waste their time and yours by applying for a job — and going to a job interview — for something you’re not even remotely qualified for. Sure, anything could happen. But that doesn’t mean it should happen.

Your time is better spent chasing the employers you’re qualified to work for. Doing so may mean that it takes longer to get your dream job, but it will at least all-but-ensure you do as opposed to chasing things that are the wrong fit.

10. How You Value Yourself

If you’re confident in your abilities, that will show to the people interviewing you. So what you need to do above all else is get comfortable with who you are before you show anyone else. Value yourself by showing the value that you can bring to a future employer.

A Job Interview Is the Most Important Test You’ll Ever Take

Much is made of testing in our public schools, but there is literally no assessment more important than the one a paying employer will make on you. School prepares you for the future, but a job interview sets your future in motion. Come prepared, and you’ll never be disappointed.

Now it’s your turn. What has helped you the most when going into a job interview? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below.

[Featured Image by Flickr Creative Commons]

Written by

's work appears regularly here at 4tests.com and across the web for sites, such as The Inquisitr and Life'd. A former high school teacher, his passion for education has only intensified since leaving the classroom. At 4tests, he hopes to continue passing along words of encouragement and study tips to ensure you leave school ready to face an ever-changing world.

Website: http://aricmitchell.blogspot.com/

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