Employers always try to detect things like confidence, competence, and trustworthiness in candidates during the interview. But Don Charlton, founder and CEO of the software recruiting firmJazz, says there’s one other essential trait to look for that reveals a lot about the job seeker: self-awareness.
When asked, “How do you hire?” during a recent interview with Adam Bryant of the New York Times, Charlton responded: “One thing I’m trying to find out in an interview is whether the person is self-aware.”
Charlton went on to say that while every job seeker is naturally inclined to emphasise their best qualities — an ability to acknowledge the bad, as well, is admirable and demonstrates to the employer that they’re level-headed and thoughtful.
“Think about somebody who’s applying for a job. It’s actually a very arrogant thing to do,” Charlton tells Bryant. “You are saying to the employer, in effect, that if they have one other candidate or 1,000 other candidates, you are the No. 1 person.”
So in a sea of qualified job candidates all boasting about their best traits and hiding any unfavorable habits, it’s imperative that employers know you’re not delusional about your downfalls, but you also know you have what it takes to do the role well.
“You want the candidate to recognise the aspects of themselves where they can be confident and the parts they’re going to need for them to be successful in a new company,” he says. “If they gloss over the challenges of coming on board, then I worry that they haven’t spent enough time thinking about the transition.”
To decipher whether or not a candidate is self-aware, Charlton told Bryant he always asks the following question: “If you failed at this job in your first 90 days, what things wouldn’t you be doing well?”
The key isn’t to respond with a laundry list of qualities that portray why you might be a bad fit — but instead to exhibit that you’re aware of your less-than-exemplary habits, and how you’re working to overcome them and preform well despite of them.
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