Are You a Hiring Manager's Dream Employee? Part 1
Are you the manager's dream employee? Naturally, meeting the qualifications of the job description is essential, ranging from skill sets to knowledge. But most managers will tell you there is more to getting the job than just checking those boxes.
When leaders decide who to hire or promote, it's the intangibles that often elevate the best to the top. So what are these "unposted requirements" for the job? I recently interviewed several managers to get their opinions on this topic. In this series of articles, I will share them with you. The first three requirements the managers shared were Servitude, Attitude, and Intelligence.
An important quality that came up with several managers was the ability to serve the customer, inside or outside the company. One of the leaders of a healthcare provider shared the #1 trait he looks for is having a customer-centric approach in one's work. He stated, "No matter what you do in your job, you work for someone. If you feel someone you work for is your customer, your interests begin to align with the purpose of the business." Having a customer-centric philosophy is more than just seeking to please, but acting with integrity and approaching relationships with the confidence to hold your ground when necessary.
Certainly, in an interview, candidates should not make their first question center around the benefits of working at that company. We've all heard you need to start with how will you "serve the company" not vice versa. Interestingly, a leader at a huge financial institution took a different spin on "Servitude." He shared, " I like to know how people serve their community. What volunteer activities do they get involved in? You can find out where people's passions lie and what skills they have by understanding their work as volunteers."
Zig Ziglar's famous quote, "Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude." There's a lot of truth to it. Several managers said they look for a good attitude. One went as far as to say, " I'd much rather have someone who has a great attitude and hasn't done this particular job before than someone with only a decent attitude that has five years experience in the position." It is one thing to say this, and another to act on it. I asked this manager to provide and example where he used this philosophy to guide his actions. Here's what he told me:
"I once took over a group and had to make the tough decision to let a few people go. I wanted to keep the best and one person stood out. Very quickly I saw that whatever the situation, this person was going to own it and do everything to get it done--no excuses. This person was very comfortable in their position, knew the details of their job and was creative in developing solutions to business problems. This person was also very likable. The decision turned out to be a good one as I now consider this person to be my future replacement someday."
Enthusiasm plays a critical role in attitude. One of my clients, a CIO in software development, said he really prefers to hire someone who loves what they do. And believe me, whether interviewing or working day-to-day, it shows when you love your job or just tolerate it.
A manager at a global telecommunications company agrees She asks, "Is the person motivated about the job?" She adds, "A popular sports-related prerequisite for accomplishing anything is to have a willing mind and able body. If the body is able to show up to work every day, but the mind isn't engaged in the job, then the results will be lackluster."
Several of the managers interviewed value intelligence. On the job, this means creative thinking, active problem solving, and unique perspectives in challenging situations. These leaders want to know if you will provide new ways to tackle a project versus follow the same path as others. Subject-matter expertise is important, but this can be learned. It is how well one uses their mind that can set them apart. One manager said he needs to be able to look in their employee's eyes and see the atoms moving.
During an interview, managers will gauge intelligence not only by how candidates answer questions, but the kinds of questions they ask >As one COO put it, "Are the questions thought provoking or do they just require a short answer?" A good question to ask is how the requirements of the job feed into the bigger picture of how the business runs. It is also a good idea to ask about a technology or tool you are familiar with that may help the company.
Word to the Wise
As I share these attributes in this series of posts, you need to ask yourself: Do I have clear, solid examples of these qualities in my professional life? When being considered for a promotion, you may not even get the chance to "interview" for the position-you must be displaying these strengths every day. In the interviewing process, you must speak with examples, too. Just saying you have these qualities is not enough. As they say, actions speak louder than words.
Read the Entire 'Dream Employee' Series:
- Part 2: Good Communication and Being the "Real Deal"
- Part 3: Being Well-Rounded and Adding Value
- Part 4: Forward Thinking and Cultural Fit