Employers want to see more than just industry experience and professional success. Yes, employers want to know you’re qualified for the position, but they also want to know you’ll fit into the culture of their company, which is hard to prove, let alone demonstrate. In order to assess your “cultural fit,” the interviewer must have a sense of your personality.
Something to keep in mind: When I hire, everyone I interview will have a resume that fits the job’s requirements; otherwise, I wouldn’t be interviewing them. For the most part, when you’re at the interview stage, your competition have similar backgrounds to yours. Therefore, my hiring decisions are often influenced by a candidate’s personality.
When interviewing job candidates, I assess personality more than I evaluate skills. It’s through a candidate’s personality that I determine how well they’ll adapt, whether they’re dependable, and, most importantly, how well they’ll get along with current team members.
A uncomfortable job search truth: Being likeable supersedes your skills and experience.
While demonstrating your personality in an interview can be daunting—you’re trying to balance being authentic with being professional—focus on the following to bring out your personality and show you’ll be a fit.
Appearance (the “visual”)
Your appearance is largely within your control, especially regarding what you wear.
In the past, the advice was, “Dress for success,” or “Dress for the job you want.” My advice: “Dress for the company you’re hoping to join.”
My career has arched many industries and companies. I know from experience companies have their own “unofficial uniform.” For instance, at Crocs, where I managed their customer service for several years, everyone dressed as if they were on vacation—and as to be expected wore Crocs. Therefore, I interviewed in a golf shirt and khakis and wore Crocs Men’s Santa Cruz Loafers without socks. In contrast, when I worked at Moneris, which is in the financial service industry, conservative business casual was the norm.
How you dress will be how your interviewer will judge if you’re “one of them.” When possible, I strongly recommend that you visit the company you’ll be interviewing with and see how employees dress.
You speak their language.
I believe the foundation for doing outstanding work starts with being able to communicate clearly and concisely. Hence, a candidate’s written and verbal communication skills are of utmost importance to me. In addition, if you speak my language—my jargon—then I know you and I are of the same “tribe.”
As a call centre manager, I can tell by the words and acronyms that candidates use if working in call centres is in their blood. (e.g., “The last call centre I managed had an AHT of slightly over 4 minutes and an ATT of less than 45 seconds.”)
When you’re speaking with your interviewer, especially if you’ll be reporting to them, speak the industry’s language. IT professionals have their own language, as do lawyers, medical professionals, engineers, retail managers, etc.
What’s the point of hiring you if you’re not dependable?
The corporate world is hyper-competitive. More than ever, companies need all hands-on deck. Regular lateness and absenteeism make you a liability to the company and your coworkers, who must cover for you.
Let your interviewer know they can depend on you. (e.g., “I live just 10 minutes away.”, “I live across the street from the Spadina subway station.”, “Last year, I only missed 2 days of work due to illness.”)
A team player
All jobs require collaboration, whether with colleagues, clients or outside contractors; thus, why employers value candidates who get along with various personalities and work styles. Your interview repertoire should include examples of how they worked in a team or collaboratively with individuals.
A cultural fit
I don’t know a hiring manager who doesn’t consider cultural fit. Every company’s culture is different, and each is founded on different core values. Employers want employees who embody their values.
I always ask my interviewer what skills, attributes and personality traits are valued at XYZ Inc.? I then respond with how one of the attributes mentioned resonates with me. (e.g., “My organizational skills is why I’ve been able to successfully manage call centres with up to 150 agents.) Then, if I’m on my game, I’ll offer a STAR (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) story to back up how awesome my organizational skills are.
Understanding what personality traits an employer you’d like to join looks for will greatly improve your job search success.