When it comes to job hunting in the Bay Area, personality is everything.
OK, maybe not everything. But it is important.
We’re in a candidate’s market, but the competition here is steep. Employers receive applications from the best of the best, so they can afford to be selective. Hiring managers today evaluate candidates for both credentials and charisma.
You can’t reshape your personality ahead of every interview, nor should you. Candidates and employers are happiest when they’re a genuine match. The last thing you want is to ace your interviews only to find yourself in a job you hate.
However, you can showcase the key attributes hiring managers like to see. Without sacrificing any of your unique characteristics, you can become more likeable – and more hireable – by honing the following traits.
You shouldn’t pretend you’re an over-the-top extrovert when you’re typically reserved, but do make an effort to be friendly and outgoing.
Greet interviewers with enthusiasm and engage them in conversation. If you get nervous meeting new people, research the hiring team beforehand. Keep a mental list of topics to bring up in case there’s a lull in conversation. Perhaps they led an important initiative for the company or went to business school with a mutual acquaintance. Those details can be great conversation starters, and they show you’ve done your homework.
Hiring managers seek candidates who can work well with the rest of the team. If you seem shy or slow to warm up, they’ll see that as a liability. If you tap into a less reserved part of yourself, you’ll be able to develop a rapport and prove you’re a positive, energetic person who can connect with your colleagues.
Insecure mannerisms such as staring at the floor, hunching your shoulders, or offering a weak handshake send warning signals to hiring managers. They want candidates who will excel at their jobs, and someone who can’t look them in the eyes doesn’t inspire confidence. Make good eye contact, smile, and firmly shake the interviewer’s hand.
A strong presence conveys competence and suggests you’ll be comfortable diving into a project with your team. That is especially important if you lack some of the hard skills listed for the position. Conducting yourself in a polished, professional manner is a sign of strength, which can be more attractive than a perfect résumé. Skills can be learned, but confidence is something you must possess from the outset.
You’ve spent hours perfecting the wording of your résumé. When you sit for an interview, you must back up that high-quality writing with eloquent verbal skills.
The vocabulary you use and the inflection of your voice should reflect the strengths you’ve listed on paper. Hiring managers want to see that you can communicate effectively, both within the organization and when representing the company externally.
If you struggle to articulate your thoughts under pressure, ask your recruiter to conduct a mock interview so they can offer pointers you can practice at home. Then meet with a friend who embodies the professional traits you want to cultivate and ask them for advice. Finally, research questions the hiring manager will likely ask and rehearse your answers. The more you practice, the less flustered – and the more articulate – you’ll be when it counts.
Personality Matters Most
An interview isn’t just an opportunity for a hiring manager to evaluate you; it’s also a chance for you to determine whether you’d enjoy working at this company.
A great way to find out is asking about the organization’s culture. Is the team close-knit? Do they hold team-building activities off-site? If so, what do those activities include?
Asking these questions serves three purposes. First, it gives you insight into the organization. Second, it demonstrates friendliness and interest. And third, it can deepen your connection during the interview.
If the hiring manager shares that the entire team went rock climbing on their recent quarterly retreat, you might mention you’re an avid rock climber as well. That signals that you’re active, you’re capable of balancing your work and hobbies, and you share an interest with your potential co-workers.
Finding the right professional fit is a lot like dating. Sometimes a person looks perfect on paper, but the chemistry just isn’t there. Thinking of job interviews this way might seem intimidating, but it should feel empowering. By fine-tuning your approach to interviewing, you can ramp up the parts of your personality that connect most easily with people.
Your résumé got you in the door, so you don’t need to sell yourself on that front. If you focus on connection and showcasing your personality, that new job is all yours.