More often than not, you find candidates puzzled at why they have not been selected for a particular job after an interview yet they were extremely confident that they performed well during the interview. This leaves them with a lot of questions. This is the time to understand what that particular employer could have been looking for.

There are three Cs to getting the kind of job you want and earning the kind of money you want. These three Cs basically remain constant throughout your working career. They are: Contacts – How well do you network? Do you have contacts? Credibility – What is your reputation like and how have you branded yourself online? Competence – Are you good at what you do?

Every employer has had experience with both good and bad employees and so has a pretty good idea of what he or she wants more of. Here are the big five qualities most employers look for in a candidate:

1. Intelligence. Performance is, actually, directly related to intelligence. Studies show that 76% of the productivity and contribution of an employee is determined by the level of intelligence. Intelligence in this sense means the ability to plan, organize, set priorities, solve problems, and to get the job done. Intelligence refers to your level of common sense and your practical ability to deal with the day-to-day challenges of the job. The key to demonstrating your intelligence is for you to ask intelligent questions. One of the hallmarks of intelligence that is immediately evident is curiosity. The more you ask good questions and listen to the answers, the smarter you appear. There is a difference between probing and asking intelligent questions. It is important to note the difference and to establish the right time to ask intelligent questions during your interview.

2. Leadership. This is the willingness and the desire to accept responsibility. It’s the ability to take charge, to volunteer for assignments, and to accept accountability for achieving the required results of those assignments. The mark of the leader is that he or she does not make excuses. If you often find yourself making excuses for small things, it is time to re-evaluate yourself. Simple ways of demonstrating your willingness to be a leader in the organization is by offering to take charge of achieving company goals and then committing yourself to performing at high levels. A candidate must be able to demonstrate this at an interview.

3. Integrity. It’s probably the most important single quality for long-term success in life and at work. Integrity begins by being true to yourself. This means that you are perfectly honest with yourself and in your relationships with others. You are willing to admit your strengths and weaknesses. You are willing to admit where you have made mistakes. Especially, you demonstrate loyalty. You never say anything negative about a previous employer or a person whom you have worked with or for. Even if you were fired from a previous job, never say anything negative or critical.

4. Likability. Employers like people who are warm, friendly, easygoing, and cooperative. This will show itself through your body language, how you walk into the room and greet the employer, your level of confidence and your ability to smile at the interview. Employers are looking for people who can join the team and be part of the work family. People with good personalities are invariably more popular and more effective at whatever they do. Teamwork is the key to business success. Your experience in working as part of a team in the past and your willingness to work as part of a team in the future can be among the most attractive things about you in applying for a job.

5. Inner strength. You demonstrate inner strength when you remain calm, cool, and relaxed during the job interview and also show patience in case the interview starts late. Inner strength means that you have the determination and the ability to persevere in the face of adversity. Inner strength means that you have the quality of persistence when the going gets rough, which may occur during the day-to-day operations of the company.

Most of all, it is your character that will sum up all your positive qualities and this will have the greatest impact on whether you get the job or not. Your job now is to work on your character by practising the behaviours of top people at every opportunity.


Gloria Michelle Otieno is the Director, Recours Four Kenya Consultants Limited. Email: [email protected]

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