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The Employer's Perspective on Job Interviews editorial staff editorial staff

While sitting through interviews, employers and HR representatives quickly notice these characteristics.

  • Preparation is essential for a successful interview.
  • 79% of CFOs say humor is an important trait for applicants.
  • Appearance and proper body language will make a strong first impression.

When most people think of the interview process, they first consider the viewpoint of the applicant, who is trying to make a good impression.

However, most people fail to consider the other side: the employer who must go through tens of hundreds of applicants during the recruiting process to find the right one.

Given the sheer amount of applicants that pass through the interview cycle, it is easy to see how employers can lose track of individuals.

Employers must sift through hundreds of resumes and sit through many interviews before meeting the right candidate. However, employers can generally determine whether an applicant is or is not qualified, based on a few signs.

While sitting through interviews, employers and HR representatives quickly notice the following characteristics.


Employers can pick up a great deal of information based simply on appearance. An applicant's appearance is the first impression they make in person on a potential employer.

Clothing and grooming have a significant impact. Being well dressed and well-groomed indicate professionalism, respect, and good judgment. If an applicant puts effort into looking their best for an interview, it is expected they would give their best as an employee as well.

Body language and posture conveys a message of its own, despite the intentions of the applicant. For example, slouching can display a lazy or uninterested demeanor, while an erect posture can convey interest and attentiveness. Based on first impressions, employers can quickly sort between prospective employees.

Know the company

 Employers prefer applicants that are knowledgeable about their company and their company culture. Applicants should research the company, and spend time considering why they believe the company is a good fit for them.

It's common for interviewers to ask an applicant why they want to work for the company. Knowledge of the company allows the applicant to answer sincerely and intelligently.

Applicants that are aware of what the company stands for, in addition to what the company does, have the greatest chance of success. A passion for the company's mission or goals leads to a happier and more productive employee. 

Make it personal

In addition to researching the company, applicants should research those who will be conducting the interview. This will give the applicant a sense of familiarity and make it easier to establish rapport. Applicants can note a significant accomplishment or an aspect of the interviewer's role that they find interesting.

Be prepared

Few things are as detrimental to an applicant's odds of being hired as being unprepared. Employers want employees who are proactive. Being properly prepared for an interview indicates a proactive, dedicated, and organized individual. One of the best ways an applicant can prepare is to conduct mock interviews with friends or family. 


When employers are interviewing an applicant, they generally determine whether the applicant will be a good fit for the team or company. Once the employer begins to ask questions, the applicant's personality begins to show. If the applicant is boring, shy, or doesn't possess a sense of humor, their chances of proceeding through the next round are extremely slim.

In fact, according to an Accountemps survey, 79% of CFOs say that a sense of humor is essential for fitting in with the company's culture.

When it comes to showing personality, the applicant should be witty, genuine, warm, and personable. They should avoid offensive or off-color jokes and sarcastic comments. Applicants should make sure that they are friendly and personable, in order to leave a good impression.


Applicants that have outstanding job experience or interesting stories have a greater chance of standing out. Employers, who often have to sit through multiple interviews, quickly gravitate towards fascinating individuals. A notable applicant is likely to stay on the employer's mind, well past the interview. Applicants can also expect to receive background checks, especially with today's enhanced concerns regarding security.

Showcase skills

There are two types of skills employers look for. Hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are concrete and easily identified. Education, experience in the field, and knowledge of specific processes related to the job are hard skills. For example, a hard skill for a marketing manager might be data analysis.

Hard skills are necessary to perform the job, but soft skills are often the determining factor. When an employer interviews two applicants with similar education and experience, they will both possess the same hard skills.

Soft skills aren't as easily identified, but they are just as important. They include critical thinking, effective communication, organization, and personal integrity.

Interviewers assess soft skills by asking questions about past or imaginary scenarios in which the applicant would have used soft skills. Interviewers will also get an impression of soft skills from the way the applicant behaves and communicates during the interview. 

Ask the right questions

An interview should be viewed as a selection process for the applicant and the employer. When an applicant has their own questions to ask, it shows an interest in the company and a desire to ensure that the job is a good fit for them.

Applicants should have a few questions about the job itself, the company, and the interviewer. The questions asked will say just as much about the applicant as their response to questions from the interviewer, so they should be well thought out.


Employers are looking for prospective employees that are enthusiastic and deeply interested in the company and industry. Therefore, they look for applicants that are knowledgeable about the company, and ask engaging questions. Remember, employers are looking for individuals who will fit with their team and culture. Asking questions shows that the applicant is active, not simply looking for a salary.

The interview process can be a stressful experience for both parties. However, by conveying confidence and enthusiasm, applicants can make a favorable impression on potential employers. If successful, the applicant can turn an interview into a discussion on employment.

Image Credit: fizkes / Getty Images editorial staff editorial staff Member
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