Every manager and recruiter worth his or her salt has had plenty of experiences, positive and negative, while managing people. For most of them, this means they have a pretty clear ‘shopping list’ of characteristics that they’re looking for. On interview, it’s not just that you want to demonstrate that you do have these things; you also need to illustrate that you’re not the opposite. Never give an interviewer a reason to say ‘no’ – unfortunately this is how shortlist reduction tends to work, whittling away the ‘difficult’ candidates until you’re left with a good list. Here are the big six qualities:

1) Brainpower:

There have been countless studies around intelligence and its association with staff output, and the consistent figure that comes out is that 76% of the contribution of an employee will be set by his or her level of intelligence, meaning the capability to plan, organise, prioritise, overcome obstacles and get the job done.

It doesn’t necessarily mean academic intelligence or IQ; it is primarily about good common sense and a pragmatic focus on meeting goals. One good way to demonstrate this is to ask insightful questions; show curiosity and an ability to engage in constructive conversation with your interviewer, and you’re well on the way to showing them you have what they need.

2) Leadership:

This isn’t just about leading teams of people. Taking a leadership position demands the ability and enthusiasm for making decisions, being accountable and seeing a job through to its completion.

One good way of showing that you have leadership qualities is to avoid making excuses; demonstrate your enthusiasm for leadership by proactively offering to lead smaller projects. Showing you can get these done is a great way of illustrating you have what it takes to perform at a higher level.

3) Integrity:

Integrity covers a lot of different aspects. Most employers want someone who is loyal, who treats others fairly and who behaves within legal and ethical parameters. Frequently, this is negatively manifested in not telling lies, stealing, bullying or otherwise engaging in unpleasant behaviour likely to be counterproductive in the workplace.

More positively, you can show you have integrity by being truthful and willing to admit both your strengths and weaknesses. Always spin a weakness question positive, but be honest – your employer wants to know that you work on yourself to improve, and that you will be pleasant to work with. Also, it’s great to demonstrate loyalty to past employers, which is why it’s such a bad idea to badmouth them, so even if you were treated poorly, never say anything negative or critical.

4) Congeniality:

It’s not just employers who like likeable people, it’s people, too, and employers are just a collection of people. Being likeable is incredibly useful, and it’s something you can work on. Smiling, saying nice things about others and looking people in the eye is a great start. Companies full of people who are warm, friendly and collaborative tend to be much more productive than companies that aren’t. Employers are looking for people who can join the team and be part of a positive culture.

Upbeat, happy personalities are usually more effective at whatever they do, and being a team player is so crucial to business success it has long since passed into cliche. Try and focus your CV, LinkedIn profile and interview strategy on evidence of positive teamwork in your list of achievements.

5) Competency:

While this should really go without saying, many people seem to overlook it. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, people often say. The reality is that being good at your job needs to be your priority. Find opportunities wherever they are to deliver positive change that benefits your employer. Be as good at what you do as you can possibly be; then find ways to illustrate that.

6) Bravery / Strength:

This is the ability to put yourself out there, to take risks, to be bold and assertive; and to be resilient no matter what the results. Examples might be meeting challenges head on, finding ways to drive value, and accepting failure as well as success.

Showing you are composed and confident at interview is an excellent way to show that you’re likely to remain so when meeting challenges in the workplace. This is particularly true if you are deliberately provoked on interview – they want to see how you’d react to negative experiences once you’ve started work.

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