Impressive Job Candidate Qualities

By David Levy

There are conflicting opinions as to the most important characteristics that hiring managers look for in a candidate.

In a recent survey of more than 15,000 clients, Express Employment Professionals showed the top three aspects that employers look for are:

A credible work history (97%)

Job experience (88%)

Specific skills (87%)

There also is consistent advice for the candidates such as:

Always send a cover letter

Tailor your resume

Wait for the employer to bring up salary

Express contacted individual hiring managers to see what the most impressive qualities are that they see in job candidates.

Here are some of them:


“What is something that you do better than anyone else in the world,” is a question one interviewer asks, followed up with “what is the evidence of this gift.” Truly driven people leave behind them a wake of results.

“Candidates that can tell me an anecdote about how they got something done, against all odds, really impress me the most.  Those who understand the rules and conduct of business and are not afraid to push the envelope a bit in the name of a job well done.”

A Good Fit

People who excel in one position may flounder in another if it does not fit their talents, interest and skills, said a hiring manager.


It’s impressive and telling when a candidate has done their research by knowing something about the interviewing manager and the company. When they ask good questions it demonstrates their interest in the company and perhaps the issue that it is facing, as well as their research skills.


How proactive is the candidate and what can they show to demonstrate that? Have they been able to take a project and run with it? How independently have they been able to operate? Do they find a way to get things done?


A sportscaster once said that if when you look for a job you follow your passion, you’re much more likely to succeed and be happy.

Many candidates respond to questions in the way they think the interviewer wants them to respond. Responses that show their passion for the company, the job opening and the industry can set candidate apart.

Passion displays the energy, drive, motivation and commitment. This passion can also be harnessed after hiring to learn the job to be done and then do it without constant prompting and micromanaging.


One of the respondents coined the phrase “humble confidence.” That shines as knowledge, humility, verbal and communication skills, friendliness and appreciation.


Does the candidate project an image of professionalism? Being a professional has been described as demonstrating the correct blend of technical and soft skills that are mixed with enthusiasm and dedication. Do they carry their personal power well? Are they engaging and personable?

Body Language

The appropriate body language is often led by the firmness of the handshake, together with confident shoulders, a smile and good eye contact.


Although there are different schools of thought, some brought about by the achievement of constant growth by changing companies, having longevity says a lot about the stability of a candidate when they have been in a position for a long time.


Southwest Airlines used to have a slogan that said, “Hire for the attitude and train for the skills.” Very often attitude boils down to an “I can” position. Many candidates believe that it’s okay to blame, make excuses and say that something cannot be done, whereas a candidate who is open-minded with perseverance and a can-do attitude will go a long way.

As an employer, we might ask how do I use these characteristics to my benefit.

As an interviewee, we might ask, have I polished these skills sufficiently?

About the Author

David Levy is the principal of Consult Levy. He works with companies of all sizes to improve their profitability. His specialties include executive coaching, operational streamlining, project management (including IT) and executive financial review. He has more than 20 years of experience advising companies. He helped one of those companies become 100 percent employee owned.

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