Job Interview Success: Three Qualities You Need to Demonstrate in 2011.

By Frances Gow.

Apart from the obvious attributes like communication, teamwork, time management and the other ‘essentials’ that can usually be gleaned from the job description, what attributes are recruiters looking for?

Upon identification, candidates can position themselves appropriately in order to set themselves apart from the crowd. In such a competitive job market, students and graduates find themselves pitched against candidates with more experience or battling to raise their heads above the surge of mediocre applications to firmly wedge a foot in that elusive door.

In every conversation or interview with graduate recruiters, three words crop up with unprecedented frequency:

tiny micro adventure - 3rd floor
Photo Credit: hokkey


Let’s face it; if you can’t show an interest in the organisation either via application or at interview, why would they take you seriously? A quick glance at the company website is not enough. You need to have a sense of purpose: Why you? Why them? Can you align your own values and interests to that of the organisation? Recruiters are interested in your motivation, so be motivated and be prepared to justify your motivation with enthusiasm.

“Entrepreneurial flair.”

You don’t have to start your own business to show an entrepreneurial attitude. By definition, an entrepreneur is someone who identifies an opportunity to capitalise on a gap in the market of a specific business or industry. To demonstrate an enterprising attitude, focus on your achievements in previous employment. Did you do anything differently that resulted in extra sales, a bonus or a new idea being implemented? Did you take any risks, not necessarily financial, that paid off in the end? Focus on innovation and ideas – not just in relation to products and services, but business processes; ways of doing things more efficiently.

“Commercial awareness.”

You often hear this term offered as a quality most in demand by employers. Whatever your background or career direction, I would argue that you can demonstrate commercial awareness. It is simply about understanding the market or industry in which the organisation operates. What are the organisational goals? How does the company perform alongside its competitors? If it is a non-commercial organisation, where does the funding come from and who are the key stakeholders?

Three things that you can do to help develop these qualities:

1. Create a list of the top ten companies that you would like to work for. Look at the values and interests of the organisation and pick companies that are on your wavelength – enthusiasm will then come naturally.

2. Look at your current position. How can you do things differently to make an impact? If you are a student, for example – can you devise an innovative way of revising for your exams?

3. Get out and about to visit organisations. Join professional bodies for your industry and network with other people who are doing what you want to do. Join LinkedIn and follow companies of interest. Subscribe to industry press magazines.

Finally… demonstrate skills and qualities in the things that you do, not the things that you say. Show, don’t tell.

Frances is a Careers Consultant for the University of Westminster, offering advice and guidance to students and graduates as well as delivering Career Management and Employability Skills training. Prior to joining University of Westminster in 2009, Frances worked as an Employability Manager at the University of East London for 7 years.


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Categories: Articles for Job Seekers, General Career Advice, Job Interview Skills


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6 Comments on “Job Interview Success: Three Qualities You Need to Demonstrate in 2011.”

  1. December 14, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    Thanks good advice.

  2. Ms. Hollander
    December 16, 2010 at 6:20 pm #

    Frances, I’m hoping to start applying for some nursing positions late next year, but I’m not sure how to apply the third quality. Can you please give me some direction if possible?? (and yes, I know I’m maybe thinking about it a little too soon!!!)

    • Francesgow
      December 22, 2010 at 3:59 pm #

      Dear Ms. Hollander, thanks for your comment. Networking is a really great way to develop commercial awareness, as you can find out lots of inside information about your industry. In the case of nursing, I would recommend that you subscribe to the ‘British Journal of Nursing’ and ‘Nursing Times’ as these will give you lots of relevant information. Also, try the Royal College of Nursing website, talk to local GPs and private hospitals in your area about potential opportunities. You can network with alumni from your own nursing course and look up university websites that offer nursing degrees – quite often, universities run free public lectures, where you can gain perspective on your subject or industry and meet other professionals. For nursing, commercial awareness is also about understanding what is going on in the health sector and the need to deliver quality within growing budget constraints. Try to find out what is going on in the NHS and how nursing is affected by the structural changes and cuts – the industry magazines will no doubt offer news in that area. I hope this helps and good luck! Frances.

  3. Kevin^B
    December 24, 2010 at 7:54 am #

    Thanks so much for the article. It’s really helpful to see a practical realistic approach – I only wish I saw it a number of years ago!

    I’ve gone through the grad jobsearch – and it was a nightmare (perhaps I should have gone to Westminster and got some guidance!)

    Having been employed for a number of years now, I can only confirm that these points are vital and all grads would do well to assign these to memory and act on them.

    • Frances Gow
      December 24, 2010 at 9:18 am #

      Thanks for your comment, Kevin – much appreciated.
      Best wishes, Frances.

  4. August 11, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    In a job interview I am sure that is very important to be well dressed and well prepaired, in other ways you need to know what to say, you need to be strong on your points, to explain them clearly and decided. Thank you for your article, is very useful. Best regards !

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