When you think of engineering job requirements, personality may not be the first word that comes to mind. But while your resume and cover letter are the first tools you use to “wow” a prospective employer, the ultimate hiring decision will be made during the interview process. It’s here that it’s critical to demonstrate how your personality and character, along with your qualifications, fit both the job description and the company.
Recent research has shown that 86 percent of employers look for cultural fit over skills in their new hires. Hiring managers are on the lookout for people who can effectively deliver results while at the same time being fun, friendly, caring and helpful to others.
As noted by Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson, “personality is the key” to winning a role in his global business empire. Dan Hawes, co-founder of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau, sums it up in saying, “The right person will need to display many skills, qualifications and experiences and of course, the right personality. Employers want graduates (or candidates) who show they can do the job, are motivated to do it and just as importantly, will fit in.”
Here is why personality matters in an engineering interview:
Personality Traits in High Demand
As reported by Forbes, a survey of more than 400,000 students and professionals worldwide identified these top personality traits sought by employers during the hiring process:
- Professionalism (86 percent)
- High energy (78 percent)
- Confidence (61 percent)
- Self-monitoring (58 percent)
- Intellectual curiosity (57 percent)
A hiring manager can read you from the moment you walk in the door, so be sure to present yourself as a confident, energetic professional. Call attention to past experiences where you’ve worked independently or excelled without the guidance of direct leadership. Tell stories of how you’ve realized achievements and saved money and how self-innovation was critical to that success.
Employers are looking for the ability to problem solve, as well as ongoing dedication to learning new technology and solutions that will advance their company. Be sure to clearly demonstrate your passion for lifelong learning.
How to Be that Person
Preparation and practice will give you the confidence to relax and put your best foot forward in your engineering interview.
- Self-assessment is the first step. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t present yourself in a false light, but tailor your approach and responses in order to show your best
- Arrive on time. Give yourself a few minutes to regroup before your meeting. Then you’ll be more relaxed and ready to impress interviewers with your interest and commitment, as well as your punctuality.
- Use positive body language. Smile and stay calm, even in the face of any natural nervousness. Offer a warm handshake, make eye contact and convey enthusiasm.
- Be ready to tell a compelling story. This starts with your 60-second “elevator speech.” Practice this and other aspects of your approach and responses ahead of time with a trusted friend or in front of a mirror.
- Here’s what not to do: Appear passive or cynical. Come across as arrogant or conceited. Fail to speak passionately – or be rude or short when answering questions.
Branson has stated that he only looks at qualifications “after everything else. If somebody has five degrees and more A’s than you can fit on one side of paper, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are the right person for the job.” Those criteria are meaningless, he emphasized, “if they aren’t partnered with a winning personality.”
Consider partnering with the specialized recruiters at Contemporary Personnel Staffing & Recruiting as you advance your engineering career path. Contact us today at 315-457-2500 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.