Employment Tips

How to Stand Out From the Crowd: What do employers look for?

You’ve studied hard, you’ve done the legwork. You had late night study sessions, offered your services for free to get work experience. You’ve graduated, have a great resume and still can’t manage to find a job.

You know you’re capable, and are more than willing to prove it if someone would just give you a chance to prove yourself!

What is it that you’re doing wrong?

Hiring managers can tell from the get go if you’re going to be worth the time. These first-impression traits are often the most critical for job seekers to prepare for, as they can all be evaluated within the first 30 seconds of you entering the room.

Among those traits, professionalism, high-energy, and confidence are the top three characteristics that emerge on the lists of employers.


The most successful applicant is one who demonstrates they are professional, with the confidence to pull off the job.

It is always a good idea to understand the kind of company you are working for. If the company is a laid back one, turning up in a 3 piece suit might be a bit much, whereas wearing jeans to an interview at Ernst and Young probably wouldn’t go over that well. Dress appropriately to fit in the culture of the company.

When answering questions, keep your replies short, concise and try to stay relevant. Going on about your favourite movie when asked about your likes and dislikes might not be the best idea. Every question you are asked will be geared towards your contribution to the role and company. A better reply would be, “I like having a busy plate with different projects to handle and I dislike office tension.”


Who do you think will get the job, someone who walks into the room with a smile and answers questions enthusiastically or someone who hesitates at everything they say?

By researching the company and role you are interviewing for, it prepares the image you will present to your future employer. Through your research, you will be better prepped for questions you will be asked. Not only will it allow you to avoid looking hesitant, it will show the interviewer you prepared for the role, demonstrating the professional attitude you employed for this interview.

Employers want to know the person they are interviewing is capable of filling the role. Confidence is infectious. By portraying a confident persona, you are putting across to the interviewer that you can fulfil the requirements asked of you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask your interviewer to go back. By doing so, you are taking charge of the situation giving off the sense that you want to know more.

High Energy

The world is full of people who want to do the bare minimum and get the most. If you are able to lift the mood of your interviewer by way of charisma or humour, half the battle is already won! People like being around happy people. An employer would be more inclined to hire someone who left the room in a positive light.

If you lack some of the requisite skills, this could be your biggest asset. Someone who can bring energy to an interview would more than likely bring energy and drive to an office environment. By showing your eagerness, and bringing energy to the office, you show the employer you will enjoy your work, and can bring that kind of energy to projects you will be given.

At the end of the day, what employers want is an employee who is intelligent.

When I say intelligent, I refer to basic common sense. If a problem crops up, someone with the ability to solve it will ultimately get the approval of their employer. The ability to plan, organize, prioritize and solve problems will be what employers look for in potential employees.

Of course, you can’t prove your intelligence at an interview, but the key to intelligence is curiosity. By asking questions, you show your eagerness to learn. The more relevant questions you ask, the smarter you appear. For example, asking questions like “If I were to succeed in this position, what projects would I be immediately involved in?” would impress upon your interviewer your curiosity and eagerness.

At almost every interview, you will be asked, “Do you have any questions?” This is an opportunity to demonstrate the research you have done on the role and the company. Relevant questions will tell the interviewer you have taken the initiative to be informed and ready.

Turning up to an interview prepared and confident will give you a great head start. First impressions matter and you don’t want to waste your chance by showing up anything less than prepared.