In case you've missed our insights on what employers want from you in your written application, here's a quick recap of what we did: 

Graduateland has asked 73 hiring managers from different companies in our network to give us answers to the following three questions:

  1. What are the 3 primary things you are looking at when reviewing an application?
  2. What are the 3 most important characteristics in an applicant during the job interview?
  3. How do you consider applicants who follow up on their application before the application deadline has expired?

In a series of 3 articles we show you the results and - based on them - give you tips to help you fine tune your application routine.


2. The most important applicant characteristics in an interview 

Personality is the primary thing employers want to see in a job interview


So, here you have it: it’s all about personality - preferably one that is presented with self confidence. Is it, though? As you can make out from the chart, the greatest personality in the world still has to be flanked by skills to make it work to your advantage. (A clean pair of shoes doesn’t hurt either.)


What does this mean for your interview preparation?

  • You cannot change your personality for every hiring manager you meet. But you can make sure to be the best version of yourself. Don’t feel like you have to play a role in an interview - unless you’re auditioning for the leading part in ‘Hamlet’ there is precious little value in being hired based on your acting skills. The key is to prepare for the interview so your nervousness doesn’t keep you from showing your personality in a self-confident manner. Tip: Use your written application as a starting point! Take your cover letter as the basis for an elevator pitch about your strengths and core skills (it will give you something to start off on the queue “Tell me about yourself”). Then go through your CV and make sure you can give a detailed account of every experience you have put on it - this will help you with behavioural interview questions.
  • Don’t just state what you know. Explain how you learned it. In case you were wondering, cognitive skills are basically everything our brains have at their disposal to process information and turn it into knowledge. When employers interview you they want to get a sense of how well you are equipped to understand their business and to tackle the challenges that come with the role you applied for. Tip: You don’t have to offer an in-depth-analysis of the company during the interview - there are different ways to demonstrate your willingness to learn. Hone your listening skills and ask the right questions at the end of the interview to show employers your ability to absorb new information.
  • Take a minute to think about your outfit. We love your collection of KISS t-shirts as much as anyone, but before you settle on one, take a minute to research the role and the company you are interviewing for. Tip: There are different levels of formality in an interview situation. Take a look at our interview outfit guide if you are unsure about what to pick from your wardrobe.