Ten Key Things Employers Look For
Tom Jackson points out in Interview Express that every employer wants to know ten basic things about you: 1. What results will you achieve? 2. How soon will you become productive? 3. How much supervision will you need? 4. Do you generate more value than cost? 5. Can you become a high performer? 6. Will you fit into the culture? 7. Will you be fun to work with? 8. Are you responsible? 9. Can you manage your own development? and 10. Will you stay? One could add to the list, but these are the key issues that every employer wants the answer to. Every supervisor who has hired five or more people has been disappointed by at least one of those choices. So there is anxiety on the part of the supervisor that perhaps another mistake will be made. Your challenge is to assure the interviewer that there is no risk in hiring you because you can do the job. Throughout the interview you should share examples and answer questions in such a way that the interviewer knows you have these qualities at a high level. While you may be lacking some of the technical or specialized skills which are desirable, you’ll have a good shot at landing the position if you can convince the person you have these qualities.
Let’s look at these points one by one.
1. What results will you achieve?
Employers want results-oriented people. Therefore, you must describe past results and demonstrate that the results you have achieved in the past are typical of the results you will have in the future. Granted, the challenges you will face in the future will be different, but the employer will be satisfied if you can demonstrate that you seek challenges and consistently obtain positive results.
2. How soon will you become productive?
Employers want quick learners who have a knack for understanding what is expected and are willing to do whatever is necessary to get up to speed as rapidly as possible.
3. How much supervision will you need?
Your supervisor will expect you to be cooperative and accept advice and direction. But your supervisor also wants to give you assignments and know that they will be done on time and at high quality. Your supervisor may want periodic updates from you and he will want you to bring any major problems to his attention, but primarily he just wants the assignment done at high quality, with little intervention from him. Describe how past supervisors have entrusted heavy responsibility to you.
4. Do you generate more value than you cost?
The supervisor is looking for evidence that you are cost conscious and that you perform at a high level. Some people utilize excellent time management and prioritize well; as a result their value exceeds their cost. Throughout the interview look for opportunities to show that you bring real value to any job and any organization.
5. Can you become a high performer?
The employer is assessing your potential throughout the interview. The supervisor certainly wants to determine if you can handle the immediate job tasks, but also wants to determine how far you may go in the organization. Potential is sold by demonstrating a willingness to go beyond the norm, to learn quickly, and to work effectively with others.
6. Will you fit into the culture?
Every organization has its own culture. People with certain personalities will flourish in it while others may die slow lingering deaths. The corporate culture in some organizations rewards workaholism, while in others a social consciousness is emphasized. Knowing what the corporate culture is, and knowing in what types of environments you flourish, will help you sell yourself more effectively.
7. Will you be fun to work with?
The employer is not looking for the life of the party, or the person with a thousand jokes. Instead, employers want people who work well with others, are cooperative, considerate, and friendly, and who are enjoyable to be around. The grouch, the negativist, and the cynic are not sought after.
8. Are you responsible?
People who constantly seek more responsibility and can be trusted with it are highly desired. They take responsibility for their actions and do not attempt to blame their mistakes on others. They often volunteer for assignments and are willing to take on some of the “dirt work” because it will help them grow professionally.
9. Can you manage your own development?
While there is a place for training and mentoring, managers seek staff who will take responsibility for their own professional development. Show that you seek out opportunities and make things happen.
10. Will you stay?
If you have a stable work history, emphasize that you seek out high-quality organizations (such as the one you are then interviewing with) so you can grow and develop with them for many years. If your work history is checkered, look for opportunities to emphasize that what you want is stability and that you feel this organization will offer it.
Employers will also be looking for two other qualities:
Communication skills: While interviewing you the employer will be visualizing you dealing with customers and key people from other departments. Without strong communication skills, the employer will not have confidence you can do the job.
Chemistry: The employer will be sensing whether the two of you can work well together. The employer will not be looking for a clone, but must have someone who is compatible. Demonstrate that you can get along with almost anyone. Sell your flexibility and adaptability. Throughout the interview, determine what qualities are most valued by the hiring manager, and demonstrate that you possess those qualities.