When you’re interviewing for a job, you know you need to sell the hiring manager on why your background, skills and industry experience are a match for the position. But there’s one crucial piece of the puzzle that you shouldn’t overlook: Is your personality right for the job?
“When companies are assessing job candidates, they’re looking for … someone who is not only proficient in a particular function, but also has the right personality,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at career resource and job-listing site CareerBuilder. “It’s important to highlight soft skills that can give employers an idea of how quickly you can adapt and solve problems, whether you can be relied on to follow through, and how effectively you can lead and motivate others.”
According to a 2014 CareerBuilder study, these are the top 10 traits employers seek out in candidates:
- Works well under pressure
- Effective communicators
Hiring experts and business leaders weighed in on other specific personality types they look for in a new hire. [Soft Skills Matter: Can They Be Taught?]
A multitasker. People are rarely hired to perform a single function. Especially in a small business setting, companies need employees who are willing to come out of their roles and do whatever is necessary, said Ron Selewach, founder and CEO of talent acquisition software company Human Resource Management Center Inc.
“A small business needs people who can not only tolerate chaos, but thrive in it,” he said.
A strategist. Career psychologist Eileen Sharaga said that every business needs a strategic thinker. Hiring managers want someone who can identify long-term goals, and has not only a vision for the future, but a plan to get there, she said.
A decider. People who can use their own judgment and take decisive action are valuable to any company. Selewach said that business leaders aren’t always available to be involved in every minor decision, so they look for a candidate who is not afraid to pull the trigger.
A born marketer. While you may not be looking to work specifically in a marketing position, someone who thinks like a marketer — a person who exhibits assertiveness, a sense of urgency and a willingness to take risks — is essential to any business, said Herb Greenberg, CEO and founder of hiring assessment and talent management firm Caliper Corp.
“[Marketers] make the world aware of their capabilities in order to position the company to obtain new clients,” Greenberg said. “The marketer works with the entrepreneur to take his or her vision and build the brand.”
A cautious person. Beth Gilfeather, CEO and founder of Seven Step Recruiting, noted that a more cautious employee acts as a counterbalance to risk takers.
“They are risk-averse, but sometimes, you need people to provide stability and fairness, and keep your business from taking on too much,” Gilfeather said.
An independent thinker. Some employees go along with everything the boss says, without question. These people may be good for an ego boost, but ultimately, leaders need team members who will challenge the status quo if it’s better for the business.
“I want people who will challenge my thinking and not be afraid to stand up for what they think is the right thing for the company,” said Meg Sheetz, president and COO of weight loss program Medifast. “I also look for people who understand that they will not necessarily agree with every decision that the company may make, but … they have to find a way to support their teams in a unified approach.”
A cultural fit. Every company’s culture is slightly different, and each is founded on different core values. What matters most to employers is that the person they hire embodies those values in their everyday lives.
“Our culture is founded upon a work hard, play hard, humble, self-reflective and collaborative environment,” said Max Yoder, CEO of online training software company Lesson.ly. “Different roles obviously call for different specifics, but all of us share those core motivations.”
Highlighting your personality
Personality traits are difficult to demonstrate on a résumé, so it’s important to really make them shine through during the interview. Sheetz noted that strategic storytelling can get your personality across to a hiring manager.
“Sharing stories that demonstrate how you performed during an experience is extremely important to help get across your personality traits,” Sheetz told Business News Daily. “[Discuss] how you handled yourself in a crisis, or how you showed up as a leader during a positive or negative time.”
Haefner agreed, noting that simply stating that you’re a team player, for instance, isn’t enough for most hiring managers. Instead, provide a concrete instance of when you worked on a team to accomplish a goal, she said.
Yoder said the best way to express your personality is to simply be yourself. From there, the employer — and, just as important, you — can evaluate if your traits are a match for the workplace and your potential colleagues.
“If you’re a great fit, it will be apparent,” Yoder said. “If you’re not, it will also be apparent.The most important thing to remember when walking into an interview is that it is completely two-sided — you’re interviewing us as much as we are interviewing you.”