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Employers Look for These 5 Things in Top Job Candidates

It’s easy to look good on paper, but when you’re a top job candidate and you’ve made it to the first or final interview, you want to make sure you have the edge to stand out from the competition.

An impressive CV only goes so far these days, and while requirements vary from job to job, there are certain qualities that all employers will look for when evaluating prime candidates.

Here, we review five things that employers look for that can help take you from applicant to employee.

Buttoning Suit Jacket

1. Having the Education and Skills

Without a doubt, the first thing that’s going to get your foot in the door as a contender for any role is having the appropriate education and skills to match the job criteria. The question is though, how can you demonstrate your resume’s finely bullet-pointed education and skills in an interview?

There’s a big difference between highlighting your knowledge and merely showing off, and by using the following tips, you can make a great impression on your could-be employer – the right way.

Show, don't tell

Are you organised and communicative? Do you have a knack for problem-solving or decision-making? Did you complete a professional qualification that enhanced your industry knowledge?

Where it’s relevant, provide brief descriptions of how these skills and qualifications apply to your current and past responsibilities, and make sure you tie them in with your resume. This will ensure that your interviewer sees your competency for the role you’re applying for.

Use the ‘lingo'

Every industry uses its own unique terminology, so try using industry-focused words and phrases in an interview – where applicable – for a little extra oomph. It’s a brilliant way to showcase your knowledge within your field and impress your interviewer.

Ask questions  

Being prepared with questions to ask can be one of the most challenging aspects of an interview, but it’s a great way to demonstrate how serious you are about the role.

Ask questions that are specific to your skills or that show a deeper understanding of your industry and of the company you’re applying to. Ask about the company culture or a specific business process, for instance, displaying your understanding and interest.

Enjoying An Interview

2. A Passion for the Role

You could be the most qualified person for miles based on your CV, but if your potential employer doesn’t see that you’re passionate about the role and the industry you’re in, then your chances of being hired can decrease.

We’re not saying, by any means, that you have to attend your interview with pompoms and a megaphone yelling about how you’ve ‘got team spirit!’, but focusing on being enthusiastic while not appearing overeager is important.  

While it’s great to be excited about a job opportunity, avoid allowing that excitement to let you ramble through your interview. It’s likely that your interviewer only has so much time to speak with you, so take their lead and listen and respond carefully to questions, leaving room for further discussion.

The best way to show your passion, though, is to be authentic. Be open and honest, and let the interviewer get to know you. The last thing you want to do is put on an act because that won’t bring you long-term success.

If you’re genuinely passionate about an opportunity, that passion will shine through when you’re speaking with an interviewer. So yes, we really are telling you to ‘just be yourself’!

3. Seeing You as Cultural Fit

When an employer is looking at top candidates for hire, they’re most definitely looking at which candidate would be the best cultural fit for their company.

Since every organisation is different, employers will often articulate to you the values, norms, and practises that define their business, and decide on whether you fit in with the core values and culture of their organisation.

It seems straightforward, but it’s important to understand that cultural-fit hiring doesn’t mean hiring people who are all the same; a good company culture will reflect a diverse workforce.

For an employer to see you as a cultural fit, they will evaluate whether you:

  • Understand the company’s culture and core values
  • Have a passion for the industry, and not just employment in general
  • Will work well and fit with current employees

A hiring manager will know better than you will whether you’ll mesh well with their business culture and team, so be honest and showcase your personality to find your best fit.

Listening To Candidate

4. Motivation and Commitment

You would hope that anyone applying for a job is motivated and wants to be successful, but as much as that should be true, employers often deal with CVs from job seekers who have been sending out resumes in bulk online, and who are eager to work not just for their company, but for any company.

That’s not to say that those people who are keen to work in any role won’t be motivated to give the job all they’ve got, however, what employers are looking for are motivated employees who can also demonstrate commitment.

So, if motivation refers to the level of interest you have towards getting a job, then commitment is about what you’re prepared to do when you actually get the job.

As a top job candidate, you should emphasise the reasons you had behind applying for the role to show your motivation, and then convince employers that you are committed to them for the long-haul – that is, if you genuinely think you’ll be there for that long.

This ensures that they’re not wasting valuable resources in hiring you, and they can instead feel confident about investing in you as a dedicated, long-term employee.

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5. Flexibility and Adaptability

Maintaining a certain degree of flexibility to adapt to business changes is a key trait that employers look for in top candidates, as the big picture for any organisation can change from week to week, month to month. Employers are looking for employees who can adapt to business changes and be flexible when and where it’s necessary.

This might refer to a periodic influx of working hours, or perhaps taking on new responsibilities that weren’t initially in your role description. Whatever the case, top candidates should be ready and willing to embrace potential changes and make the most out of them.

Employers want to know that an employee can respond to unforeseen changes quickly, calmly, and efficiently. This is what they’re looking for in a top candidate.

You can highlight your experience in working flexibly and adapting to changes on your CV or cover letter, and in an interview, you can elaborate on that and explain why you were happy to do so for your company (granted that was the case, of course).

Being a top candidate these days means ticking the right boxes for your prospective employer, and despite the challenge that may bring, the simple truth is that employers want to hire you – they want you to be the successful applicant.

With that in mind, remember that to be a top candidate, you need to convince employers that you’re the only one for the job. It might not sound easy, but with these five things in your back pocket – you’re unstoppable!



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