Karen Darrin

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As an HR professional, selecting the “best of the best” from a candidate pool is one of the hardest decisions leaders make. Hiring the wrong talent does happen, but not often. But what occurs more, is finding candidates that are fairly equal on the resume details — skills, experience, education.  How do leaders make a decision then?

There are always a list of intangibles that leaders look for. These hiring intangibles vary from business to business, culture to culture. But, what I have successfully leaned on when hiring key employees are the following three attributes.  And, if you are currently on the other side of the interviewing desk, you can’t go wrong in emphasizing them:

1. Your Determination

Your rival may have everything you do on paper, but how resilient are they?

No job, no matter how glossy it appears from the outside, is without its challenges. Unexpected dynamics, resource and training shortages, internal political bottlenecks, irate customers, failed product launches—these are all potential realities looming in your future.

Disappointments are a given. The real question is how will you handle them?

In a rapidly-changing business environment that is complex, unpredictable, and intense, no one wants a flake. Demonstrate to your interviewer that you have the fortitude, conviction, loyalty, and staying power to see yourself (and them) through whatever comes your way.

Prepare a solid example of your resilience and determination that you can quickly share with the interviewer.

2. Your Enthusiasm

Do you love what you do? Are you passionate about your career, or is it just a means to a paycheck? And, don’t think you can hide your answer from an experienced interviewer.  I can pick out a paycheck-focused candidate very quickly, and that is not some superpower ability.

You and your rivals can do the job, but if this work lights you up, then let your interviewer know. Be specific about why this role and/or company invigorates you.  Specifically detail why you can’t wait to sink your teeth into the contributions you know you can deliver.

Again, have your example prepared. Don’t just say or act enthusiastic in the interviews. Tell the interviewer(s) about a time your enthusiasm was key to success from a past situation. Tell the story and watch for the head nods.

3. Your Cultural Fit

Skill sets are one thing, but employers are increasingly concerned with the cultural dynamics of the workplace and an employee’s fit within it. Not only are they assessing your skills, but they’re also trying to imagine how you will integrate within their existing team and cultural framework.

As an interviewee, it’s your job to pick up on those cues and speak to them. What are the values and qualities they’ve said are important? Research the company’s core values by reading its mission statement, website, and social media updates. Talk with current or past employees of the company using your LinkedIn connections or other resources. Play Sherlock and see what you can uncover.

Determine what the company cares about and how it overlaps with your own career experience. Get your story ready on how your own values and work style meshes with theirs.


Interpersonal dynamics often trump skill set when it comes to making a hiring decision (particularly when candidates are evenly matched) and could easily elevate you above the competition. The leader may say it was a “gut decision” but I can tell you these three attributes are a part of what any company is looking for.

Remember —  if you’re asked why an employer should pick you over all the other candidates, this is an ideal opportunity to elaborate about your talents, capabilities, determination, enthusiasm and fit. That mix makes you the best person for the job,  hands down.

CALL TO ACTION:  What are the next steps in your career? Let’s brainstorm on the best strategy to move forward. Slot a complimentary 30-min consult here:  Schedule Free Consult.

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