Personality, cultural fit the new currency in interviews: Forbes

  • New data suggests five personality traits needed to outsmart competing candidates in a job interview
  • Candidates must be prepared, professional, motivated and self-confident to win

IT"S no big secret that when interviewing for a job, prospective employers look for more than just references and what’s in a candidate’s résumé. Over and above that, new research shows that organizations today are looking at the right cultural fit over skill-sets per se, notes an article in Forbes.
Personality, cultural fit the new currency in interviews: ForbesAccording to the New York-based business magazine, 88% of employers are looking for a “cultural fit” over skills in their next hire as more and more companies focus on attrition rates.
Citing research conducted by Universum, a Stockholm-based employer-branding firm that annually surveys over 400,000 students and professionals worldwide on job-related issues, Forbes said there were principally five traits employers looked for in job candidates in 2012.
“We surveyed employers to get a handle on the challenges that face them in hiring,” Forbes quoted Joao Araujo of Universum as saying. “What are they looking for in employees and what are they not finding.”
“By identifying both traits, aspiring job applicants can both identify the most sought after traits -- and brush up résumés and interview tactics to best position themselves.”
The five traits are: Professionalism; High-energy; Confidence; Self-Monitoring Personality; and Intellectual Curiosity
Forbes noted that the first three traits are visible to prospective employers as candidates present themselves during an interview. The last two are categorized as non read-on-sight characteristics and instead call for both résumé and interview preparation.
The business bi-weekly reported that 86% of those surveyed by Universum said professionalism is the most sought after trait they are looking for in new hires, followed by high-energy (78%) and confidence (61%).
Citing Kathy Harris, managing director of Manhattan-based executive search firm Harris Allied, Forbes said these first-impression traits are the most critical for candidates to prepare as they all can be evaluated by a recruiter or hiring manager within the first 30 seconds of meeting a candidate.
“A manager can read you the moment you walk in the door,” she said in the article. “From the clothes you wear to the way you stand to the grip of your first hand-shake, presenting yourself as a confident, energetic professional is about as basic as career advice gets."
She noted that candidates should not be put off by this commonplace advice, as even the most seasoned CEOs could get tripped up by these basics.
“We remind every candidate of the most granular advice,” she said. "The most successful applicants are the ones who walk into every interview with their hand outstretched for a handshake, have done their homework on the interviewer and company, and are dressed to fit effortlessly into the culture of the workplace.”
Though not obvious, having a self-monitoring personality as well as intellectual curiosity are important too, the article added.
To present themselves as the self-monitoring personality type, Harris advises candidates to adjust their résumé language to call attention to work experience where they’ve worked independently or excelled without the guidance of direct leadership.
“In interviews, choose anecdotes that show how you’ve saved, made or achieved in previous positions … and how self-motivation was critical to that success.”
As for intellectual curiosity, Forbes noted that this comprises the ability to solve problems and to have an ongoing dedication to learning new technologies or solutions that will continue to advance in the changing workplace.
“Employers are asking themselves whether new hires will be with the company for the long term,” Harris said. "An employee who will grudgingly adopt a new database is not as attractive as one who is truly passionate about learning new things.”
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