How to Recognize Character Traits
After all, your ability to do the job at hand is what the recruiters are looking for, right?
Well, not quite.
Yes, your ability to manage day-to-day tasks is a crucial aspect of any new hire.
But just as important is the match between prospective candidates and the existing team.
Recruitment is an expensive business and firms now understand that finding that perfect match is also about finding a person who can fit in with the current workforce.
They understand that for a recruit to be a success, they need to be able to work effectively with other staff members and both parties should be happy and comfortable.
This is why so many employers are now turning to a wide range of personality tests within their recruitment processes.
Recruiters are looking to find candidates that they like, and that they want to work with.
They want to spot the people who they believe will be able to hit the ground running, will be able to make a difference and will be able to fit seamlessly into the office environment.
With this in mind, it’s clear that jobseekers need to be aware of their personality traits.
The official definition of a character trait according to dictionary.com is that a trait is:
“A distinguishing characteristic or quality, especially of one's personal nature”.
We all have our quirky personality traits, many of which will be positive, but we also all have negative traits.
It’s important to understand what personality traits an employer may be looking for.
For instance, personality traits such as ‘hard-working’, ‘diligent’, ‘ambitious’ and ‘intuitive’ are important characteristics to have within the workplace.
But how can recruiters tell which applicants actually have these personality traits and which applicants are just listing common buzzwords on their resumes?
Part of this is shaped by your character values.
Character values are different from your character traits.
Whilst your personality traits may be what sets you apart from other potential candidates (such as your ability to listen, innovate or collaborate with colleagues), your personal values reflect what you believe to be true.
Similar to morals, your character values drive how you act and impact your decision-making capabilities.
For instance, your values could ensure that you strive to give due credit to colleagues with great ideas. Or it could be about understanding how to work ethically and fairly with co-workers.
Therefore, if you are strongly led by your character values, you may wish to consider how you can demonstrate this to hiring managers.
You may be surprised to learn how important your personality may be within the workplace.
We’ve all been in situations where we’ve struggled to get on with a co-worker or worked in team scenarios where one person has felt that they are working harder than someone else.
Hiring managers are looking to find the right people who will immediately fit into existing team dynamics and work well alongside existing staff members.
Hiring managers use personality tests to anticipate and predict how you may react to certain scenarios. If you’re working in a fast-paced environment, they need to know whether you have the right personality to cope with the workload.
For occupations such as nursing or social work, they need to establish if you can cope with the emotional demands of the job, or whether you can remain calm in a crisis.
Your character traits can also play an important role within your professional development.
If an employer understands how you like to work and what your motivational drivers are, then they can facilitate a working environment that suits you and your productivity.
For example, you may find that you work better first thing in the morning. Therefore, a flexible working schedule may make you more productive.
Alternatively, you may find that you work better when surrounded by co-workers to share ideas with.
Ultimately, if your employer understands who you are as a person, then they can create an optimum working environment that not only suits you but ensures that you work as efficiently and productively as possible.
Knowing how to weave your personality traits into your application form, cover letter or resume seamlessly is a difficult skill.
You need to be able to showcase what you are like as a person, whilst simultaneously focusing on what you think the employer wants to know – as well as maintaining grammatical coherence.
There are a few ways that you can do this.
First, we recommend that as part of your pre-application preparation, you:
- Prepare a list of your positive character traits
- Create a list of the requirements that the employer is looking for
By creating a Venn diagram, you can quickly identify which of those character traits overlap and should be referenced within your cover letter or mentioned during an interview.
Second, don’t be afraid of the humble bullet point list.
Recruiters don’t have time to wade through pages of resumes or cover letters. They need the information presented to them quickly and easily – especially if they are using applicant tracking systems to filter through candidates.
Once you’re aware of the personality characteristics that you have (and they need), include these as a basic list within your resume.
If you are invited to attend a job interview, be aware that they will likely ask you about your character traits.
Try to consider some practical examples that you can discuss that relate to the job you are applying for and the employer's requirements.
If you’ve mentioned that you are ‘cooperative’, make sure you can explain how you work with others, and prepare some anecdotes of times when you’ve worked effectively as part of a team.
To help you understand the types of character traits that employers are looking for, we’ve collated a list of 20 examples that you may wish to include in your next job application.
This list should be used to inspire you.
Remember that you need to consider what your potential employer is looking for, so your choices need to be relevant and applicable.
Employers want to know that you are keen to work hard and you have drive and motivation.
Ambition should be seen positively; you want to show your employer that you are not afraid of setting ambitious targets and that your personal ambition matches the company’s corporate vision.
Charisma could be hugely important if you are applying for a managerial job.
You need to be able to demonstrate that you can lead by example, you understand how to motivate your workforce and you can use your charisma to encourage everyone to work to the best of their ability.
No one wants to employ someone who is dour. If you are a positive, upbeat person then try to show this during your application.
You could use your cover letter to provide examples of your positive attitude and explain how you help to lighten the atmosphere even during tense moments
During an interview, you can easily demonstrate your cheery disposition through a big smile and plenty of eye contact.
Employers want to hire those who genuinely care about other people. They want to see examples of how you’ve tried to make the working environment better for others.
If you’re applying for a role in a profession such as HR, you’ll need to show how you use your compassion to look after staff wellbeing (both physical and mental).
Compassion is a hugely important character trait for those looking to work in public-facing job roles such as medical assistants or nursing staff.
This may be less about a character value and more about your overall approach to work.
Employers want to know that you’ll always make sure that tasks are completed accurately, on time and within budget.
They will be looking for examples of when you’ve been self-disciplined and taken that extra mile to ensure that the job has been completed satisfactorily.
Those working in customer-facing roles may need to demonstrate conscientiousness as part of good customer service.
Can you cooperate with others or collaborate effectively as part of a team?
Employers need to know that when you start your new role, you’ll be able to fit in with the existing workforce.
They will be looking to see that you can listen to what others are saying and share ideas. They want to know that you are a team player, whether you are working with internal colleagues or external contacts.
Try to use your cover letter to provide examples of collaborative and cooperative working.
Employers are actively seeking those who have courage. This is because they want to find people who are prepared to stand up for what they believe in (perhaps it’s advocating for a patient or standing up for a customer).
They want to know that although you are prepared to listen to what has always been done, you’re not afraid to make suggestions and to offer ideas that could lead to improvement.
Those who dare to take on difficult tasks or provide support for those in need can gain a reputation for being someone who can be relied upon and who can be trusted to do the right thing.
But creativity is also a valid character trait for many other job roles.
It shows that you can think beyond what you are being told and you can come up with alternative solutions to problems or present information in a different way.
Can you demonstrate that you are always eager to learn new skills or continue to focus on your professional development?
Those who are curious about how they can improve their skills and their knowledge may find that they rise through the ranks quickly.
This is because they show that they are eager to continue learning and are always looking for ways to improve, regardless of what level of seniority they have.
This is important for employers who want to know that staff are continually driven to try new things and want to go that extra mile to succeed.
Similar to conscientiousness, employers are looking for staff who will work diligently to get things done.
They want to know that you are careful in your approach and that you consider all aspects of a project before jumping right in.
Diligence is about demonstrating to your employer that you are a hard worker and that you take the time to make sure that tasks are completed accurately.
This isn’t about telling people what they should or should not be doing.
Employers need to know that you can spot what needs to be done and make sure that tasks are ready ahead of deadlines.
Of course, self-management and discipline also encompasses your working routines.
Employers need to know that you can adhere to their corporate policies and that you can be trusted and responsible, whether you are working in the office or working remotely.
Can you showcase any examples of where you have been particularly efficient?
This is not just about getting tasks completed on time, it’s also about knowing how to improve efficiencies.
For example, can you make suggestions of how a project can be done differently to save money? Perhaps you’ve installed new technologies or used software that speeds up processes?
Efficient workers are those who are highly organized and know how to get things done quickly, with minimal fuss.
Employers want their staff to be friendly. If you’re working in a customer-facing role, you need to represent the company as best you can.
Try to use your cover letter to show examples of how your friendly demeanor has put people at ease, even if they are in an uncomfortable situation.
You may want to show that you are humble and have humility. This often allows the employer to recognize that you are a team player.
You’re happy to share credit with others and you are not boastful about your achievements.
If you’re applying for a management position, you want to be able to share the success of your entire team rather than taking individual credit and praise when something works well.
Can you use your imagination to think creatively? Can you consider different viewpoints and think of new ways of working that could be more effective?
Your imagination could be the key to your success because employers are often looking for staff members who can push boundaries and help guide that company to new places.
This could be about spotting new business opportunities, or it could be about identifying skills gaps within your team.
By considering a bigger picture, you could be highly sought after by firms who want to progress and become market leaders.
In conjunction with your imagination, can you think of any times where you’ve been innovative in your approach to work?
This could be through making recommendations for new software or technology. Or it could be through creating new ways of working that improve communication and productivity.
It could also be about self-innovation. You may be someone who can predict/spot new trends and establish what is needed before the masses.
Perhaps you’ve worked in marketing, and you guessed that big data would become the next big thing and took the time to undertake new learning so that you’re ready to hit the ground running.
Think about examples where you’ve been ahead of the curve and been able to spot what could be needed in the future.
This is about showcasing your decision-making capabilities. Do you know what could work and what could fail?
- Do you have strong gut instincts about a new business proposition or a new co-worker?
- How can you use your intuition to improve your performance?
- Can you provide examples of when you’ve used your instincts to know when something is likely to be successful?
Whether you are working directly with members of the public or you’re working in a large team, there will always be a time when you need to show patience.
This is a valuable character trait for employers because those with patience are often far more rational and are often able to remain calm even in pressurized situations.
If you’re looking to work in a management role, how perceptive are you? Can you tell when someone is working to the best of their ability? Do you know when to put your arm around someone to give some additional support when they need it?
Understanding how to check on your team and knowing how well they are working is a highly valuable skill, as is being able to implement changes that enable individuals to work to their full potential.
Finally, are you a persuasive person? Can you use your body language, your vocabulary and your presentation skills to convince people to do what you want them to do?
For PR professionals, your persuasive skills can help shape the reputation of your company and ensure that stakeholders think favorably of you.
For sales reps or management teams, your persuasive skills could be used to pitch new ideas to C-suite executives and ensure that new strategies work in your favor.
Having a deep understanding of your personality traits and knowing what motivates and drives you can be crucial to your job success.
You need to be clear about what potential employers are looking for and be able to match your skills and personality traits to those requirements.
It can be extremely difficult to list all of your personality traits on your resume or cover letter. When you’re trying to be concise, it’s easy to forget that cultural fit is just as important as technical ability.
However, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be done.
As we mentioned earlier, your Venn diagram should give you immediate visual insights into what character traits you have that match your employer's needs, so these should be prioritized within your application.
You should also try to use similar terminology or jargon – that way, if the recruiter is using automation to filter through any applications, you will likely meet their pre-determined criteria.
As you prepare for your job interview, make sure that you can back up any personality traits with tangible examples of when you have used that trait within a work/academic context.
The more you can talk about your personality traits, the easier it will be for the recruiter to determine whether you are the right fit for their needs or not.