Go to college. Graduate. Find a job. This is what society expects from people in their late teens and early twenties, like me. But, how do we find our first job? What do employers look for in their ideal candidates?
I find myself in a unique position. I’m a senior about to start searching for my first “big kid” job, but my current job is to overhaul IUPUI Campus Center and Student Experiences’ on-boarding and hiring processes. This position has made me privy to some insider information about what characteristics employers are searching for.
I’ve sat through numerous amount of interviews since I began this position in May. Some of them have been really good, and some of them I thought would never end. Today, I want to focus on the good ones; the ones that made me remember why I love this job.
As I reflected on the resumes I reviewed and the interviews I conducted, I noticed that the candidates I couldn’t wait to hire had three things in common: passion, curiosity and individuality.
Listen, I’m not saying you need to love every aspect of a job, just be passionate about something. The jobs I tend to hire for aren’t super fun. Most of the jobs involve a pretty hefty amount of manual labor. It’s safe to say I have never interviewed a candidate who said, “Moving furniture around and setting up rooms is my favorite thing to do.”
So, what do my ideal candidate for this position say? There is no perfect answer to this question. There won’t be for any job. Whatever your passion is, do your best to connect it to the position you’re being considered for. Do you love to help people? Do you love being a part of a team? Whatever your passion is connect it to the position, and articulate that throughout the hiring and interview processes.
This is an instance when curiosity does not kill the cat. I want to see candidates who are hungry to learn as much as they can. I want candidates who are genuinely interested in my organization and what it stands for. And maybe this is selfish, but I want candidates who are at least somewhat interested in my thoughts about the job and how I obtained my position.
My point is, come ready to ask questions. But don’t just ask the basic questions. Show me that you really put some thought and time into it. I promise that you can wow me, and any other hiring manager, with a question we aren’t expecting.
I know what you’re thinking. Everyone says this, but it’s true. Organizations don’t just hire based skill sets. They hire based on personality. They want to see if you’re a good fit for the team. So before you freak yourself out preparing for an interview, just take a deep breath. The most important thing to remember is to let your personality shine through.