20 Things Employers Look for in an Interview

Your cover letter and resume have earned you an interview because the potential employer has seen things in your education, training and experience that make you an attractive candidate. The next step is the interview process. No matter the type of interview you face—individual, group or panel—there are specific things interviewers look for to help them determine your ultimate suitability to fill an open position. In this article, we list 20 things potential employers look for so you can prepare for your in-person, phone or video interview.

Read more: Types of Interview Formats and Styles

What interviewers look for: 20 items

As you prepare to interview for a new role or position, consider these 20 things that interviewers may look for:

Your body language

The first impression you’ll make in your in-person or virtual interview is how you appear and what your body language says about you. In addition to being neat and orderly in appearance, present a relaxed but alert demeanor. Maintain eye contact and a friendly smile, and use hand gestures when appropriate.

Read more: 12 Body Language Tips for Your Next Interview


Think about the characteristics you appreciate in people you like, and do your best to exhibit those traits in your interview. In addition to being polite, show that you are easy to get along with and cooperative.

Openness to new approaches

Your potential employer may be impressed by your past performance, but they also want to know that you are open to trying new ways of doing things. Be sure to communicate that you are flexible in your thinking and willing to try new approaches and new solutions.


Interviewers appreciate it when you’re well prepared because it gives them a preview of your readiness for work if hired. Have all collateral materials you may need, like copies of your resume, reference letters and portfolio of work examples, if appropriate. Have a pen and a pad or notebook handy, and make sure your phone is silenced.

Read more: 5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before a Job Interview

Soft skills in action

Your interview is the perfect time to demonstrate your soft skills. Empathy, integrity, dependability, creativity and adaptability are all skills you can embody during the interview process.

Read more: Soft Skills: Definitions and Examples


Mention examples of times you took charge and provided good leadership. If you volunteered for assignments, took leadership in a group setting or led a project, share those experiences with your interviewer.

Read more: Q&A: What Is Leadership?


Believe in yourself and behave accordingly. Let your interviewer know that you recognize your own value and are excited to be able to share it as you learn from others.

Read more: How To Sell Yourself in an Interview


Interviewers want to find people who are passionate about their work. Share your enthusiasm about your skills and talents, and communicate your professional dreams and ambitions.

Success stories

Interviewers look for the potential for future successes by hearing your stories of past successes. Be prepared to talk about your previous successes, whether in personal undertakings, in past work situations or as a student or trainee. Know what accomplishments you’ve made on the job or in your personal life, and openly share them.


An interview is also your chance to ask questions. Engaged applicants are curious about the hiring process and ask things like:

  • Why is this position needed?
  • How will you know that you hired the right person?
  • How does this role fuel the company’s overall success?
  • What immediate challenges and opportunities await the person who fills this role?
  • What are the three key things you’re looking for in the person who will have this job?


One of the most important things is to be yourself. Your interviewer needs to get a sense of the authentic you to judge your fit with your prospective team and the company culture. Instead of thinking of playing a role in your interview to get the job, envision the interview as an opportunity to show off your best self.


How thoughtful you are while asking and answering questions in your interview can show the hiring manager your critical-thinking skills. If you need additional information to answer a question, ask the hiring manager to clarify so you can deliver a thorough answer. You can also explain your thought process as you work through an answer to give them a more in-depth perspective of your thoughtfulness.


Let your interviewer know your thoughts on where you currently are on your career path. Discuss where you have been, where you are currently and where you’d like to be as your career progresses. This helps the interviewer determine how you can progress within the company.


Let your interviewer know what your expectations are to ensure they align with the company. Communicate your thoughts about the role you’ve applied for and what you expect from the company.


Be prepared to discuss your opinions about your work, citing your strengths and areas for improvement. Let your interviewer know that you want to be an active participant in your career.

Read more: How To Emphasize Your Personal Strengths During an Interview


Let your interviewer know that you are committed to taking on the challenges of the role and are looking forward to joining the company. Interviewers want to know why this role is important to you, what motivates you to work for this company and what level of self-motivation you bring with you.


Your interview is an opportune time to showcase your willingness to be a team player and an effective employee. Interviewers respond positively when prospective employees ask, “How can I help?” Being eager to be of service is a valuable attribute that you can highlight. Your willing attitude could be the determining factor in getting the job.

Understanding of the company

If there are two candidates for a position who are equally qualified, the one with a better understanding of the company will likely get the job. As you prepare for your interview, research the following aspects of the company:

  • History
  • Business model
  • Mission
  • Values
  • Goals

Read more: Why Is a Company Mission Statement Important?

Understanding of the role

An interviewer wants to know that you have a basic understanding of the role for which you are applying. Look for key themes in the job posting that tell you more than the daily tasks involved. For example, if a listing says “must be willing to work with” other departments, be sure to know what those interactions may entail. Even if you are applying for a role you’ve previously held in another company, research that job position and find out what it means in different corporate settings.

Understanding of your potential in the role

Think of your interview not as an audition but as a collaboration. Help the interviewer visualize you in the role, and use the interview as a chance to help you see yourself in it. Prepare some lines of conversation you can introduce to show how your specific skill set and personality can be beneficial to the managers, department and company you’re interviewing with.

Source: Indeed.com

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