The 3 Secrets to Getting Hired

Posted on July 31, 2010.

I’ve been lucky enough over the years to be able to hire many people to the various teams I’ve led. Over the course of all of these interviews I’ve discovered that there are three core components that make a candidate a desirable addition to my team. While these three traits have emerged over the course of interviews focused on User Experience and Design teams, I believe they are applicable across all disciplines, industries and positions.

And so, without further ado, the three secrets to getting hired are:

  1. Have kick-ass chops — in other words, be the best you can be at whatever it is you’re trying to getting hired to do. This means knowing the discipline, the tools and the outputs. Unless you’re applying for an entry-level position, there will be an expectation that you will know how to perform the job. The onus is on you to be the best you can be at that job. Also, your new team and manager don’t want to train you in the craft – perhaps they’ll train you in the specifics of how to perform the craft at that specific workplace but they’ll expect that you know what you’re doing.
  2. Have an opinion — when asked at an interview how you feel about a particular subject, technique, outcome, etc have an opinion on the subject — even if that opinion differs from your interviewer. Also, use the opportunity to showcase that you have opinions about your industry and discipline. On my team, I seek out new ideas, thoughts and reactions — most managers do. Your point of view matters — even if it’s different than the commonly-held opinion.
  3. Have the initiative and passion to pursue that opinion (the one in #2) — You’re good at what you do. You have definitive opinions on how things should be done and why certain techniques work and others don’t. The last ingredient is initiative. Having initiative means finding your own motivations and energies to push those opinions and drive the direction of the work you’re responsible for. ¬†Without this last piece, your opinion is just an idea in your head. Growth companies look for team members who can move the company forward. Initiative moves your ideas forward which in turn moves the company.

I believe so firmly in these three traits that I actually tried to push through a job description (for every job on my team) with just those three things on it recently. Perhaps it’s a bit short but, to me, it says it all. Now, granted there will be corporations that may frown on some of these traits. It’s at that point where you have to ask yourself, if you have and value these traits, if that’s the place you really want to work.

Share these 3 secrets to getting hired with your networks. The more folks we get out there working in these ways, the better the output of the world’s best companies will ultimately be.


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