Humility is the key trait for a successful interview!

By 12th April 2017News
humility word in mixed vintage metal type printing blocks over grunge wood

Let’s take for granted that your skills and experience are a match for the role because otherwise you wouldn’t have been invited for an interview. Let’s also assume that the person interviewing you wants you to do as well as possible in the interview. Finally, it goes without saying that you will be well researched on the company and role and prepared for the usual types of interview questions, so that’s the basics covered!

I interview candidates at all levels before submitting their applications to clients. I get a feeling of how they will perform during an interview with the client and occasionally I am very confident that they will be successful. Over the years I have recognised that there is one particular character trait that always stands out to me and I think is the most important. That trait is HUMILITY. I would summarise humility by breaking it down into the following qualities:

  • Quiet confidence. Someone who is able to project their confidence in the right way. Someone who comes across as relaxed, happy and doesn’t feel the need to show off or shout too loudly about their achievements. They don’t state the obvious or say things that the interviewer already knows. They talk in a calm, articulate way and back up their statements with examples, but know when to stop talking.
  • Self reflection. Someone who has a balanced view of their own abilities. They realise they are not perfect; they make mistakes and realise that there is room to improve. They don’t say things like “I have perfect attention to detail”, they say “I always take time to check my work thoroughly and I aim for 100% accuracy”.
  • Desire to improve and build on their skills. When I say desire to improve, I don’t just mean they say things like “I am very motivated to learn”. I mean those people who take online courses, unpaid work experience, read and study in their own time and actively seek advice and learning experiences from others.  They also don’t expect a company to provide expensive courses but if the interviewer tells them that they will receive additional training then they show much appreciation and enthusiasm for the learning opportunity.
  • Gratitude. They realise that they are fortunate to be having the interview and will be fortunate to be offered the role. They show enthusiasm and passion for the role and company and they will be thrilled and motivated to work there. It could be argued that it’s good to keep your cards close to your chest and this puts you in a better bargaining position with regards to salary. However, this can backfire easily and the candidate is more likely to be rejected. Even if a candidate is only exploring the job opportunity and needs some convincing then they will be honest about this but display gratitude for being offered the opportunity to attend an interview.
  • Respect and appreciation for others. They have a strong respect for the company they are interviewing with (and other organisations) and admire their company values and achievements. They talk openly about particular mentors or people who they respect and aspire to. They value their current and previous managers and colleagues. They try not to talk negatively about any past employer or person.  If they had a bad experience of a previous employer then when quizzed they answer articulately without showing negative emotion or giving away confidential information.  They also try to reflect in a balanced way by highlighting some positivity about the company or person and how they valued the experience.
  • Positive body language. They don’t slouch, they shake hands firmly but not too firmly, they smile. They pay attention whilst listening. They appear relaxed but professional even if the interviewer is not. Their Body language is natural and not forced, and if they have all the above qualities then their body language will reflect this.

So to summarise, out of all the people who I have recruited over the years, the few that have really stood out have shown the above qualities and I’ve thought “they will do very well in the interview”, and they have!  I think humility is really important and although it cannot really be faked it’s good to show this side to your character as much as possible. I think so much importance is put on “being confident”, but finding the right balance between confidence and humility is key to success!

The original post on LinkedIn can be seen here