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Five Valuable Traits Interviewers Look For When Hiring

January 29, 2019


Whether you are applying for an extracurricular activity, internship or dream job, knowing what interviewers always look for is crucial to forming your experiences and responses.


Here are five traits employers are surely looking for during an interview:

1. Relevant Skills


Of course, relevant skills – both technical and soft. Employers want to ensure you can do the job and complete your deliverables in a timely manner. They are looking for individuals who can add value to the organization and solve its problems. Be sure to highlight these skills during your interview by providing examples and answering clearly using the STAR technique!


Common ways for interviewers to test this include:

  • Asking for a portfolio, mainly for creative or technical roles

  • An in-basket test

  • “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”

  • “How familiar are you with [relevant skill or platform]?”

  • “Tell me about a time you exercised leadership.”


However, if you don’t yet have the specific skills for the job, be sure to put in the effort to learn. In this digital age, there are plenty of online resources like YouTube and Lynda. Furthermore, there are websites created just for specific skills like HubSpot Academy, for you marketing and sales fanatics and Codecademy, for the aspiring web developers, app developers and more – the list goes on.


Next, display your skills through online certifications, a website, a blog, a YouTube channel, a portfolio or on LinkedIn. And if you’re a student like myself, be sure to take advantage of extracurricular activities, case competitions, hackathons, mentorship programs, classes, and your school’s co-op program. In fact, as an aspiring marketer myself, I found that joining a student union as their Director of Marketing gave me immense opportunities to execute graphic design, digital marketing, content management systems, email marketing and so much more. While competing in multiple case competitions allowed me to immensely develop my problem solving and public speaking skills through working with a fast-paced team.


Regardless, don’t fret – you have transferable skills! That’s where adaptability comes in!

2. Adaptability


The ability to adapt to different situations and be teachable is a highly sought after quality that showcases your problem-solving skills and ability to thrive in an ever-changing organization.


Common ways for interviewers to test this include:

  • “How do you deal with conflict?”

  • “Tell me about a time you overcame a challenge.”

  • ”Tell me about a time you had to complete a task under a tight deadline.”

  • “Tell me about a time you were given a task outside of your job description.”

  • “Tell me about a time a project didn’t go as planned; how did you adapt to it?”


So, next time you’re worried about not having enough relevant skills – don’t worry, focus on conveying your transferable skills to showcase your adaptability. Plus, hackathons, case competitions, writing competitions and debate competitions are around, so be sure to use those opportunities to your advantage to prove not only your problem-solving skills but your ability to adapt in a fast-paced team environment.

3. Team Fit


Now, this is a tricky one. Employers want to make sure you can work well with the team and embrace the organization’s culture. Team fit is important because a good, strong company culture means trust and support, which leads to efficiency, autonomy, commitment and therefore, higher performance. In fact, as shocking as it may sound, especially when it comes to long-term hires, the importance of team fit can override skill level. Why is this? Well, because even a highly talented employee can cause conflict and demotivate others. This shows that they may not have the needed soft skills for this team; in this case, the costs outweigh the benefits as technical skills can be taught, but it’s harder to teach soft skills.


Common ways for interviewers to test this include:

  • “What do you value most at work?”

  • “What do you like most about working on a team?”

  • “Who was your favourite manager and why?”

  • “How do you give/respond to criticism?”

  • “Tell me about a team experience that you found rewarding/challenging.”


However, going into an interview, it can be tough to tell whether they’re looking for someone more collaborative or independent.


So, here are a few ways to best assess whether you fit in with the organization:

  • Attend a company networking event, ask questions and evaluate your interactions with their employees

  • Read Glassdoor reviews

  • Read the company and employ