In my last post I explained that effectively selling your qualifications and experience as being a good match for the position is usually the most important factor in getting invited back for the second round of interviews.
I also said that in the second interview the game completely changes. Your “soft” skills, as well as your personality and how much the hiring manager feels you will be a good fit for the organization, now become the most important factors in determining if you get the job.
As a hiring manager, the three most important “soft” skills in my opinion are:
• Work ethic
• A customer service attitude.
At this stage of the hiring process, technical skills are less important because it’s already been established that you have those by the fact you made it past the first interview. Ah, but the soft skills! These are things that can’t be taught – for the most part, you either have them or you don’t. Technical skills can always be learned. With over 30 years of management experience, I can tell you that, without a doubt, the soft skills will determine your success in the long term. Let’s take these one-by-one.
Initiative is probably my number one most desired trait for applicants in the second or final interview. Why? Because I know people with a high degree of initiative will take it upon themselves to find out the answers, they will constantly come up with new ideas and better ways of doing things, and they will do whatever is necessary to get the job done without having to be told. In other words, they require very little management oversight, a quality that every manager desires. During the second interview, it’s therefore important to be able to give examples of your work that demonstrate high initiative.
Closely related to initiative is work ethic. If you can convince me you have a good work ethic, you greatly increase your chances of getting a job offer. I know that people with a good work ethic will show up for work on time, they will put in a full days work, they will not complain about the workload, and they will frequently volunteer to help their co-workers and take on additional assignments. They are exactly the type of employee I want on my team.
The bottom line for these first two soft skills, initiative and work ethic, is that they trump technical knowledge and experience every time. Most experienced hiring managers are well aware of this and when making their final selection will give more weight to these two traits than almost anything else.
Next time I’ll review how customer service and personality are also determining factors to obtaining that final job offer and give some final tips on how to ace that second interview.