The interview process is much more complicated than it was in decades past. The ease of online applications and job boards, the number of emerging industries, and the rise of remote work mean that there are more positions and more competition for them than ever before. An applicant’s journey to the same position may look vastly different, but when hiring managers are down to their last few applicants, the education and experience levels are about equal. How then does a company make its final decision?
While your qualifications and experience are ultimately what a company seeks, at the end of the day, they are hiring a person to fill that role. Your individual personality means more to your interview process than you may think. In fact, CNBC cited a joint study between TopInterview and Resume-Library that found that personality was in the top three factors employers seek in their decision-making process. Personality joined skills and experience as the top trinity of factors, above education and appearance.
It’s a difficult dance showing off what makes you “you” while maintaining composure and professionalism, but the following tips will show you why your personality matters and how you can efficiently showcase your sparkling personality.
Why your personality matters
Organizations are filling a position because they have a need for a particular skill set, but you’re still joining a team of other human beings. You can be the most qualified candidate of all time, but if you don’t fit a company’s culture or are unpleasant to be around, you won’t get the job.
The aforementioned study cited by CNBC highlighted the growing prioritization by employees and employers on work culture and work-life balance. Since the pandemic, these values have further increased, and in the wake of the Great Reshuffling, the right fit for both parties is even more crucial.
“Employers have less talent to choose from than ever before, and this is encouraging them to think outside the box when it comes to assessing candidates’ potential and experience. Indeed, a key part of this is considering how well someone’s personality is going to fit in with their teams, so it’s crucial to stand out for all the right reasons.” Lee Biggins, CEO of Resume-Library
Unsurprisingly, the study found traits such as arrogance, entitlement, and dishonesty to be undesirable, while candidates who are confident, authentic, and reliable are more likely to be hired.
Marija Lazic of LegalJobs cited their own interview research trends, and many of these were related to first impressions and personality. Some highlights included:
71% of employers wouldn’t hire a candidate that doesn’t follow a dress code.
67% of job seekers don’t make eye contact.
39% of candidates are rejected due to confidence level, voice quality, or lack of smile.
Bad handshakes lead to 10% of job seekers being rejected.
Many of these statistics are based on antiquated ways of thinking, but the data shows the person matters just as much as the resume. If the wrong traits can mean missing out on the job, the right traits can help you land it.
How to showcase your personality
With this knowledge, how can you best display what makes you unique while still being professional? Balancing authenticity while pandering to the hiring manager may sound hypocritical, but you can still be “you”.
The first step is to research the company and the role. Researching the company beforehand is always the best practice anyway, but it’s a great way to get a feel for the culture, as well. Many companies will have a mission statement available on their website, which can clue you into what personality traits they desire. Social media makes this even easier, and you can look for reviews from past employees, reminds Glassdoor.
Daniel Bortz of Monster reiterates that choosing the right buzzwords is key. You’re still being honest and authentic but tactful when you describe yourself as adaptable, dependable, or full of integrity. You can show off your traits in a way that makes sense to the position.
“For a customer service job: “I’m a problem-solver by nature. My immediate goal when I speak to a customer is to get their issue resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible.”-Daniel Bortz
Engaging in casual conversation with your interviewer is valuable, too. The employer is hoping not only will you do the job well, but you’ll be a delightful person to work with. Casual, but appropriate, conversation shows authenticity and allows you to build a rapport and establish who you are beyond your qualifications.
Finally, at the end of an interview, a potential employer may ask you about your hobbies or interests. Nexxt’s Jason David believes this is the perfect time to paint the picture of who you are as a person. Treat this question like a first date and show the most interesting part of your personality (while still being work appropriate!). Don’t be afraid to share your uniqueness!
Who you are matters, and employers and employees alike are recognizing this fact more than ever in wake of the pandemic. Data shows that good employers value the right cultural fit just as much as your skills and qualifications. A bit of research and preparation can help you present your unique personality in a professional but authentic manner. You are more than your CV, so don’t be afraid to show off your personality during your job search.