The 5 Traits Firms Really Look for in Candidates

Next Generation Planner: June 2021


Jamie Hopkins, Esq., LLM, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®, RICP®
Managing Director, Carson Coaching and Retirement Research®-chfc®-clu®-ricp®-022a502a/

“Hire me! Will work for comments and likes! Plus beer.”

I thought this was funny, but it also made me really think about the skills and traits we are really looking for when we interview candidates.

One study explored the top traits that companies actually look for in candidates. Some of those things from that study included communication, teamwork, eagerness to learn, negotiation and self-confidence, among others.

This inspired me to put together my own list of traits that I look for when interviewing candidates.

I’ve interviewed a lot of people in the last few weeks and made three job offers, and I realized that I didn’t know what school any of those three people attended. I’m a big proponent of academia, education and continued learning, but I couldn’t tell you where any of those three people attended school. It’s on their resume, but their school didn’t actually draw my interest during the hiring process. I thought that was really interesting. What actually drew my interest were the following:

Drive. One of the things people look for is drive. Do you get things done? Are you innovative? Did you significantly contribute to your previous organization/company?

How to demonstrate. Show how you’ve added value to your previous company. Give specific examples. Show how you learn from failure. Demonstrate how you set and meet personal goals consistently.

Flexibility (or adaptability). This is another big driver that companies are looking for. Think about the last year; were you able to adapt, change or improve through a very tough year?

How to demonstrate. If in 2020 you pursued different designations or certifications, talk about them. Elaborate on why you decided to pursue additional designations. Did you use your time in quarantine to buckle down and study for your CFP exam? Talk about that. Show that you are adaptable to change and that you have a high AQ—adaptability quotient.

Ability to perform the technical traits of the job. This one is less exciting, but hiring managers look for whether you can perform the job for which you’re applying.

How to demonstrate. Provide work samples or examples that prove you are capable of doing the job. Ensure your references include people who can speak to your stellar work. Play up your education or certifications that have prepared you for the technical role of the job.

Communicative. Are you communicative? Can you communicate with others? I think that’s huge. When I’m talking to people or interviewing, I just ask myself a simple question: would I want to pick up a phone call from this person? If they called me on a Saturday, would I be excited about it? Look for how well they communicate and get along with people.

How to demonstrate. Be authentic. If you connect with your interviewer, then they’ll want to pick up a call from you. Ask good questions and follow-up questions. Ensure you communicate what you are looking for also.

Integrity. Hiring managers are looking to see if you fit the company culture and demonstrate integrity.

How to demonstrate. In terms of fit, research the company and ensure your values align with their values, then speak to that in the interview. Talk about instances where you admitted you were wrong and what you learned from that. Ensure your references can speak to your dependability, trustworthiness and accountability. Be open and honest when communicating. Don’t talk poorly about your previous employer or employers. Be gracious.

Now, get out there and impress those interviewers.

Practice Management