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11 Important Qualities to Focus on as a Job Applicant

When you’re competing for a job, you have to prove to the employer that you would add the most value to their organization. Many applicants today are entering the job search market with similar skills and education, meaning that you have to differentiate yourself from other job seekers by demonstrating non-technical skills.

In many cases, these qualities, such as coachability and likability, are intuitive rather than learned, which makes them all the more valuable. Below are some of the most important qualities to focus on and demonstrate as a job applicant:

1. Likability

According to a Virgin Pulse survey, 40 percent of respondents said that their colleagues are the main reason they love their job, while 66 percent said that coworker relationships impact their productivity. Employee relationships can be crucial to a company’s success, so it’s important to demonstrate your likability as a potential colleague during interviews and phone calls.

likeable employee

However, even if you seem likable during interviews and achieved success in a previous position, an employer is less likely to hire you if your former colleagues had a hard time working with you. You can prove your long-term likability by accumulating strong references, online recommendations, and traditional letters of recommendation.   

2. Coachability

Coachability is another personal quality employers look for in job applicants because every employee has the potential to continually learn and improve if they are open to new information and suggestions.

To show employers that you are coachable, you can candidly discuss a past learning experience, or explain how you are working to overcome a professional weakness. Your interview responses should show that you are capable of recognizing your own shortcomings and illustrate your willingness to address them.

3. Flexibility

In a competitive job market, companies are looking for employees who are flexible and willing to exceed expectations in order to advance the business, even if that sometimes means taking on work that is outside the job description. The most valuable job applicant is a utility worker, or someone who is able to assume different and additional roles to help the company through challenges.


During the interview process, make sure to point out examples of when you went above and beyond in previous roles.  

4. Autonomy

Many employers also want employees who can achieve success without constant oversight and instruction. When you interview with a potential supervisor, that person should feel confident that they can delegate and assign you tasks without creating more work for themselves. You can establish your autonomy by discussing past projects you handled without extensive supervision.

5. Action-oriented

Along with autonomy, you need to demonstrate that you are an action-oriented employee who is able to see tasks through. An action-oriented employee is able to both complete assignments and implement new ideas, which is a powerful combination that can generate progress and income for the company.

6. Reliability

Every employer wants a reliable employee who shows up for work on time, completes tasks on schedule, and consistently delivers quality work. As a job applicant, you can prove your reliability by promptly responding to correspondence from the employer and being punctual for interviews. Your interview answers should also highlight how your consistency and follow-through added value for previous employers.  

7. Resilience

As every employee knows, there are always challenges and failures in the workplace, but the most valuable employees are able to overcome trials and learn from mistakes. You should be able to explain how you addressed challenges in the past while maintaining a positive attitude and utilizing coping strategies.


8. Integrity

Integrity is crucial to long-term success in any environment, and hiring managers will often ask you to discuss how you demonstrated integrity by taking responsibility for a mistake in a previous role.

Instead of focusing on the problem, highlight your problem-solving abilities and the solution. Employers understand that perfection is impossible, but they do want an employee who owns and resolves their mistakes.   

9. Good Judgment

Since challenges and mistakes are inevitable, employers need to know that you can exercise good judgment while resolving issues. You should prepare some examples of times when you made a good decision or successfully prioritized tasks when faced with adversity in the workplace.

10. Loyalty

While expectations of loyalty can vary depending on the employer, many employers look for candidates who are loyal to an industry, profession, or cause. A passionate and loyal employee is more valuable because they want to come to work and be productive.

You should also avoid criticizing a former employer during an interview. While you may no longer be connected with the company, your discretion will demonstrate your professional courtesy and trustworthiness to a potential employer.

11. Leadership Potential

The ability to lead and inspire people is a valuable quality in any employee, even if you aren’t applying for a leadership position. According to the Job Outlook 2016 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, around 80 percent of employers want candidates who can work in teams and demonstrate leadership skills. To illustrate your success as a leader, reference concrete and quantifiable examples of how you led a group to accomplish its goals.

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