In a survey of more than 1,400 chief financial officers by Accountemps, nearly a third (31%) said personality or people skills would be the most valuable factor in deciding between two equally qualified candidates for an accounting or finance position — even more important than job knowledge, industry experience, or software skills.
But what's downright startling about this finding is that when Accountemps asked the same question just five years ago, only 1% cited personality or people skills as the deciding factor.
That 30-fold increase is an eye-opener, especially in a profession not traditionally associated with people skills. Yet it highlights the increased emphasis on collaborative workplaces and reinforces something we've said on this blog before: You may have the skills to do the job, but do they like you?
That's why it's important to come across as personable and likable in a job interview. If they know from your resume you can perform the duties of the job, they may call you in for an interview to get a feel for the person behind the skills.
So, be ready to demonstrate that in these three ways:
- How friendly and respectful you are toward others at the company, not just the people you're interviewing with. (think: receptionist)
- How you answer behavioral interview questions, the ones that ask how you've handled certain situations previously in your career. Be prepared to tell a story or two, such as how you collaborated with people from other departments on a long-term project, or how you reacted to coworkers whose points of view were different from yours.
- Your body language. Be attentive and focused. Maintaining eye contact with the interviewer is especially important; not looking directly at them as you answer a question could send a message that you're hiding something. If you're fidgeting, looking around, slouching, or seem distracted, your body language may contradict your words, and the employer won't trust you.
Remember: You may believe that you're the best at what you do, but it's how you go about doing it that can make you more employable.
What do you think? Are people with poor social skills doomed, or are there still industries where skill is far more important than likability?
Interviewing Tips: What Hiring Managers Really Want from You
Like It or Not, Likability is the Key to Getting Hired
Top 4 Body Blunders in the Job Interview