Why the Skills Game only Gets You so Far

Jun 26, 2012   //   by Kevin OBrien   //   Blog, Hiring Process, Interviewing  //  No Comments

Skills!

It’s become a standard to receive requirements that outline a plethora of skills for which one candidate needs to match most in order to win the position. But is it realistic, and are there other determining factors that make the difference? Yes, of course there. Even if you don’t have every skill listed from a job description, as a candidate, you need to think about the extra details in order to help you land that next contract position.

  1. Personality Fit is a Big, Big Plus. Yes, your personality must be apparent in an interview. There are numerous studies that explore and support the value of personality in the candidate selection process. Even if you are a dead lock in the skill category, having the personality to add to it only cements the chance of being selected. It’s important to clearly assess the interviewer and apply those personality traits that will be a best match for the position. However, over doing it might be a show stopper.
  2. Work Ethic Must Show Through. Just performing at an expectable level puts you in the “average” category. It may not always be apparent in an interview that you are a dedicated and hard worker, but communicating results based on a solid foundation of hard work can go a long ways. If the decision comes down to two equal candidates, it’s likely that the one that has more skin in the game is likely to get the call.
  3. Being Resourceful is an Added Value. In the Google Society era, data and information is readily available. However, there are other ways to get to answers and results. Anyone can do an internet search, but not everyone has connections and conduits to resources of significance. The opportunity to utilize these resources may be more prevalent when on the job, but being able to demonstrate the derivatives of resourcefulness can be golden especially in areas of newer technology.
  4. Working in a Team is of Major Importance. If you are a lone ranger, make sure that you only apply for jobs that function in a vacuum. Most companies have matrixed organizations which touch various parts of business and technology departments. Building applications and running systems require input and interaction with an assortment of individuals. If your personality type is such that you have a hard time adjusting to various bosses and line relationships, be careful on what you apply for. If this is an area for which you excel, utilize those discussion points in an interview to win the position.
  5. Checking the Ego is a Must. When it all comes down to what’s important, the project for the client always wins. It is extremely beneficial to talk about projects as if you are acting as if it was your organization and your blood was on the line. The importance of “me” and “I” at the client is secondary to the team and the project in front of you. Make sure that the ego is checked at the door in the interview and at the client location. The ego is something that can really get in the way of being a successful consultant.
  6. Being Politically Savvy Furthers Opportunity. There’s no question that even the best performers can lose out because of the way they handle people, process and product ownership. In line with checking the ego, it’s very important to play nice when it comes to business politics. Even though things may not go your way all the time, understanding the political landscape of a business, department and project is an absolute must in getting selected, but more importantly, getting an extension. Consultants that are well-liked, perform at a high level, and fit in with the political template of an organization tend to get extended more often than those that ruffle a few feathers here and there. It’s not to say that the game is to be played to the nth degree; but to observe, understand and fit in where necessary as required by the position.

Utilize these pointers when interviewing for a position (in person or by phone). Always keep in mind that the decision maker is keen on skills, but when all things are equal among candidates, it will be the extra “stuff” that tips the scales in one direction or the other. Make sure the scales tip your way.

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