This is a guest post by Garrett Miller, author of “Hire on a WHIM.”
Did you know that a recent grad with zero relevant job experience can compete handily with a veteran of the industry with lots of years under his belt? That’s a little-known secret most job candidates might find hard to believe.
But it’s true. There are four essential qualities every exceptional employee possesses — and experience is not necessarily one of them! These four qualities are nonnegotiable, from the smart hiring manager’s perspective, and they can’t be taught.
Here are the four traits that will help you get hired ahead of more experienced candidates, and some practical ways to flaunt them during your interview. They are easy to remember, because the first letter of each trait spells the word WHIM.
Work ethic: A set of values based on the virtues of hard work and diligence.
How to show it: Describe activities — jobs, assignments, internships, classes, extracurricular activities such as sports teams or clubs — that required intensity, motivation, a sense of purpose, and a strong, passionate desire for self-improvement.
Humility: The ability and willingness to be taught.
How to show it: When talking about your work style, describe a difficult situation when you asked for help. Highlight team and group working scenarios, to demonstrate that you can collaborate. Don’t be shy about discussing an embarrassing moment or an incorrect choice — and emphasize what you learned from it.
Integrity: The innate ability to do what’s right, even when influenced to do otherwise.
How to show it: Share one of your biggest disappointments or failures, and talk about how you took the appropriate level of responsibility for it. Mention an instance of moral ambiguity — and how you handled it. Own your successes and your failures.
Maturity: The quality of seriousness, thoughtfulness, and consciousness in thought and actions.
How to show it: Give the interviewer a sense of how you see yourself years from now, so he or she can gauge how realistic your dreams and goals are. Talk about an experience in life that was particularly important in shaping who you’ve become. Show in your stories and demeanor that you are at ease with people and can navigate through touchy emotional situations.
Official bio: Garrett Miller is a workplace productivity coach and trainer, keynote speaker, and author of Hire on a WHIM: The Four Qualities that Make for Great Employees (2010, www.HireonaWHIM.com). He is president and CEO of CoTria, a company that provides time-saving solutions to help clients manage more efficiently, and is known for his extensive experience in hiring, training, attracting, and retaining top talent.