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6 Things Job Interviewers Want to Know

hiring-first-employee-100712-02 Credit: Dreamstime

Job interviews can be tough for both the interviewer and the interviewee. Job candidates aren't sure what the prospective employer is looking for and those doing the interviewing aren't sure how to figure out what kind of person they're really talking to. And, looking at your perfectly prepared resume isn't going to answer those questions.

There are key things interviewers look for, however, that help them determine whether the person they are interviewing will actually be a good hire. According to Dean Stamoulis, head of the Global Executive Assessment Practice for New York City-based Russell Reynolds Associates and a member of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), those things are not always obvious.

"What you see is not always what you get and that's why it is important to be able to provide a full assessment of a candidate including traits and characteristics not readily apparent in an interview or with provided background information," said Stamoulis who is author of "Senior Executive Assessment: A Key to Responsible Corporate Governance" (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009).

Too often interviewers become enamored with a charismatic candidate who makes a good first impression, instead of looking at relevant past performance and other indicators of leadership, Stamoulis said.

In other cases, good candidates don't make a great first impression, he said. It's important for interviewers to try to focus on what qualities are important for the position. "It's not that hard but a lot of people don’t do it," he said.

Stamoulis gives six examples of what employers should look for in a job candidate.

  • Breadth of knowledge- A full and rich conversation covering different facets of the business, he said. "For example being able to discern how societal and economic changes are impacting or could impact the market. That shows the ability to see the big picture," he said.
  • Comfort with change- People who are not just tolerating change but embracing it, he said.
  • Balance during the interview- If the candidate only uses superlatives to describe previous performance, then he or she is not showing the ability to be self-critical and demonstrating continuous improvement and learning from mistakes, Stamoulis said.
  • What you don't say- What a candidate doesn't say in an interview is important, too. "If an interviewee doesn't mention others he or she has led and name key contributors to past successes, that might indicate he or she is taking credit for others' work and ideas, according to Stamoulis.
  • Blaming others– If a candidate blames others for failed programs and making excuses it is likely they are not taking responsibility for their behavior and actions, he said.
  • Compassion– Compassion, courage, reflection, decisiveness and the ability to pause and think before answering are all important, he said. "We're looking for a balance of traits," he explained.