All of the personality skills are common words which everyone knows, but it is helpful to put the words in a different perspective. Reading the definitions will enable you to describe yourself more effectively in interviews.
At the end of some description you'll find synonyms or phrases that you might use as substitutes. You'll also find a sentence showing how you might describe yourself. The examples are intended merely to give you ideas, and should not be used verbatim.
Accepting and tolerant people accept people for what they are and value people for who they are. Even when they strongly disagree with the actions or attitudes of certain people, they seek to understand their positions. They try to avoid judging others.
"I accept people for what and who they are and I enjoy working with people who come from different backgrounds. I've worked with people from various cultures and find that I can adapt to them rather than forcing them to become like me."
Appreciative people let people know that what they do is appreciated. They are quick with a thank you and often add special words that go beyond just a thank you. Sometimes they will give a pat on the back, or when they say thank you, there is a special gleam in their eye or a smile that says they really do appreciate what was done. Appreciative people will often say positive things about you to others.
"I think it's important to let people know that you value them and that you appreciate their special efforts. I like to compliment people for their successes, I always thank people who have helped me, and I do favors for them whenever I can."
Assertive people are rarely aggressive but they do know their rights, and when it is appropriate they will stand up for them. Assertiveness works best when it is balanced with tactfulness. Assertive people avoid making scenes. When they need to confront someone they will seek to do it in private. When in a public forum they will present their case in a way that causes others to understand their side and to become sympathetic to their cause. Assertive people rarely resort to threats.
"I know how to get what I need. I'm not shy about getting people to assist me or finding ways to break through red tape."
Being cheerful does not mean always having a smile—even cheerful people get down once in a while. But cheerful people do bring sunshine to others and people like being around them. Cheerful people look on the positive side of just about everything. Although I like the word cheerful, I would not use it in an interview. Instead you might say:
"I'm the type of person who really enjoys life and people enjoy being associated with me. I guess that attitude tends to rub off on other people." Actually the best way to sell cheerfulness is to demonstrate it rather than talk about it.
People with common sense are practical and down to earth. They find the simplest way to do a task rather than try to make it complicated or complex. People without a good dose of common sense often do silly things that have negative consequences. People with common sense will generally be able to predict the outcome of such people’s follies. Practical people show good judgment and they are sensible
“I’m a very practical person. I find practical, common sense solutions to problems. A lot of my coworkers seem to prefer complex solutions which may work fine in a controlled environment, but won’t work out in the field. I always think about the users and what will work for them.”
Compassionate people care about the less fortunate or those who are feeling pain. They are willing to give emotional support. The trick for such people is to remain compassionate without getting burned out or becoming cynical. Instead of saying "I'm compassionate," say:
"I care about people and I seek to empower them to achieve their own goals."
Considerate people are always aware of how they affect others and they are very mindful of the golden rule. They seek to avoid those things which offend or bother people.
"I'm very aware of other people and I would never do anything intentionally which upsets people or harms them in any way. I know how I like to be treated and I try to treat people the same way."
Being cooperative in a work setting is one of the most important skills a person can have. Two types of cooperativeness are important. Hiring managers first look to see if you are cooperative with others, and then seek to determine if you'll be cooperative with them. Cooperative people meet others at least halfway and they refuse to let their egos get in the way. As team members, cooperative people will continue to support the team effort, even when a pet idea is voted down.
I had a client who described her attitude this way: "I'm very cooperative, but if I get voted down on an idea that I feel strongly about, I'll accept the majority decision, but I will probably look for opportunities to meet with them individually to better explain my position. I have frequently lost a battle but won the war." I totally support that action.
Cooperation also has to do with helping coworkers. Perhaps a coworker is sick and asks you to help out with a special project. A cooperative person wouldn't have to think twice about helping, even if it means some overtime. Cooperative people cooperate with other departments even when that department has no power over them. Cooperative people believe that what goes around comes around.
Some people dig in their heels when asked to do something they don’t enjoy, They are often highly capable people and would not get fired just for being uncooperative, but they do pay a price. When they get assignments they don't like they complain and say it isn't their turn. If they still have to do it they often perform the task half-heartedly and either turn it in late or with barely acceptable quality—at least far below the quality they are capable of.
Let's assume I have two employees. Joe is a genius and is heavily experienced. You are my other employee. You are very good, but less experienced than Joe. You have always been cooperative and I know that if I give you some "dirt work" you'll give it the same attention and effort as you would a great assignment. In fact I've gotten to a point where I give you more than your share of the dirt work types of assignments. I virtually never give them to Joe because he screams and hollers and just makes a big scene. The quality of his work on those assignments is poor, so it isn't worth giving them to him.
One day a great assignment comes in. It could be a consulting assignment in Hawaii where we let you spend three extra days there at our expense to enable you to wind down. Or, it could be a fantastically creative assignment that employees would kill for. It could be a project that will enable you to work directly with the president and you'll gain exposure that might otherwise take years to achieve. Who will I give it to? I can guarantee that Joe will not get it. When he complains, I will just explain that since you take on the lousy tasks, you also get the really good ones. Joe can just lump it.
Let's also assume that I am now about to get promoted. You know the old axiom, you can't get promoted until you have someone to replace you. Well, I do, and it ain't Joe. In fact, even though Joe is a genius, he may never get another promotion. Besides, by giving you the position, now you have to deal with Joe and I don't. You can see why employers value cooperativeness so highly.
I've devoted a lot of space to cooperative, but that's how important I feel this quality is. Team player, team oriented.
"When I work with people I'm virtually always willing to meet them more than half way. If I'm dealing with a matter of principle I probably won't compromise, but otherwise I will be the key person to strike a happy medium. I like working as part of a team and I'll help out anyone that I can. I think in every job there are tasks which no one likes to do but someone has to do them. I usually take on more than my share and I don't mind it. Of course I like to work on really challenging projects also."
People need good decision making ability. Ask yourself whether you feel good about most of the decisions you've made in life. If they've been sound, with perhaps a few exceptions, then you have good decision making ability. It means you examine different sides of an issue, and even though the issue is not black and white, you make the decision that gets you the best results.
"I make good decisions. I gather all the information I can and look at the issue from as many sides as possible. When I can I'll usually seek input from others. Usually there is no obvious right answer so I have to apply logic with a touch of gut feeling. Usually I make the right decision."
Decisive people make decisions and then stick with their decisions even in the face of strong criticism — as long as they still feel they are right. Decisive people will also suddenly turn 180 degrees and go another direction. But they are decisive about that also. Decisive people are not bull-headed. They will not continue something when it is clear it was a mistake. Decisive people remain open-minded and when it is clear that a certain decision will not achieve the desired results, they will change directions. Decisive people rarely make snap decisions. They usually weigh things very carefully and may postpone decision making as long as possible, but once the time arrives when a decision absolutely has to be made, they will not waffle and they will not pass the buck.
"I don't pass the buck. When a decision's got to be made I'll make it. As long as I continue to feel it was the right decision, I'll stand behind that decision and give it a chance to prove itself. Sometimes when you start a new program things actually get worse for a while and everyone who doesn't like the decision or the program will point to that as proof it won't work. Often it just takes time, but if you drop something or keep changing something before it’s had a chance to prove itself, then you can really cause problems. If I realize I've made a mistake, though, I think my staff would agree that I'll be one of the first to admit it and change it."
Diplomatic people enjoy the art of diplomacy. Diplomatic people are skilled at helping others resolve their differences without using threats or force. They understand, however, the value of negotiating out of strength. Diplomatic people often function as mediators at work and in social situations because people trust their ability to see all sides of an issue and to remain objective. They know how to phrase thins so that when concessions have been made, all sides feel they got most of what they really wanted. Mediate, mediator.
"I'm very good at mediating. I'm naturally diplomatic and I'll really listen to both parties that are having a disagreement. Then I can usually come up with a solution that will give both parties most of what they need and then I'm able to sell it to both parties. Because I really listen and show that I care, both sides will trust me and know that I'm not favoring one over the other."
If you are known to be discreet, your friends, boss, and coworkers will have the assurance that things said in confidence will go no further. Discreet people consider the impact of their words and use good judgment when they speak to others. Discretion is also necessary when dealing with customers or suppliers—you must take care what you say and don't say, what you reveal and don't reveal.
"Wherever I've worked my bosses have always trusted me with important information. They know I'm not going to reveal anything I shouldn't."
People with drive seek new challenges and keep going even in the face of opposition and hardship. They put a lot of energy into projects or activities that they believe are important. People with drive have a history of getting things done, sometimes through sheer will power. Employers are looking for that spark which is missing in so many people. The person who starts projects but rarely finishes them lacks drive. See persistent.
"I have a lot of drive. When I decide to do something I'll put an incredible amount of energy into something to make it happen. I won't stop until I achieve it."
Easy-going people have the attitude, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” They react well in emergencies and during stressful times. Problems don’t upset them. They often enable an entire office to work more productively by having a calming influence during a crisis. Being easy-going is a good example of how you should show only the positive side of your skills. If you are too easy-going you may give the appearance of being "laid back" or "mellow," neither of which is valued by business people. This is also another example of how you may want to use a different word or phrase to get this concept across. Below, the person claims that he doesn’t “let things bother me.”
When asked about your strengths you might say,
"I think one strength has to be my ability to not let things bother me. If a subordinate makes a mistake I'm not going to spend time worrying about it, I'll dive right in to fix it and then show the employee how to avoid it next time. When my department is working on a rush job I'm better able to handle the stress, so I'll insulate the staff from that stress as much as possible. I'm also apt to bring some humor into a situation to sort of release the stress. In that way my people keep working on the task instead of worrying about it—which would hurt productivity. So I think my ability to not let things bother me has really helped me keep productivity high."
Effective Under Stress
People who are effective under stress are extremely valued people. They work well under deadlines and refuse to let the stress get to them. Since heavy workloads and tight deadlines are major forms of stress on jobs, people who are effective under stress are excellent time managers. If they are given a task at noon that is due at four, and the task would normally take seven hours to do properly, they immediately go into action. They quickly assess what needs to be done and identify any corners that can be cut. They might also clarify to the supervisor that due to the shortness of time, the accuracy or quality might be somewhat diminished, and confirm that that is acceptable. With that established, such people are ready to go into high gear. They are also capable of changing speeds. Long-term projects require pacing, but a short project like this one means getting totally into it and completing it, allowing no external or internal distractions to interfere.
People who are effective under stress also work well in emergencies which require split second decisions. They are the ones you can count on. In sports such as basketball, there are players who the rest of the team looks to in the last minute of a tight game—the ones who can make that clutch shot at the buzzer.
"I work well under stress. I think the pressure just brings the best out of me. I get really focused and just concentrate on the task or project."
Efficient and Productive
Efficient and productive people are excellent time managers and they work at a fast pace. Being efficient means no wasted time or motion. Efficient people may socialize but they never allow "intruders" to take over their office and waste their time. They concentrate their efforts on important matters rather than just immediate matters. They know the danger of being busy yet accomplishing little.
There is a difference between being efficient and being productive. Doing an unimportant task efficiently is not being productive. Being productive implies doing the most important tasks and doing them efficiently.
Pace is also important. Some people operate at only one speed—slow. Efficient and productive people can vary their pace depending on the need at the moment. Projects that require extreme care will be worked on more slowly, while other projects may need to be completed quickly with less concern for quality.
"I get a lot more done in a day than most people. I use really good time management and I make sure I'm putting my efforts into the things that need doing. I like my coworkers, but you won't find me chatting when there's a job to do. At the same time I'm always looking for easier or better ways to do things. I turn it into a game and see if I can do something in less time than I did it last time."
Emotionally stable people are extremely reliable because they are consistent from day to day. Their mood swings tend to be gentle as opposed to the wild gyrations of others. Emotionally stable people handle stress well: they don’t have outbursts of anger, nor do they become withdrawn or hard to talk to.
A client once had a boss who was very competent, but one never knew from day to day what kind of a mood she would be in. One day she could be extremely relaxed and charming while the next she would bite everyone's head off. It got to the point that if a problem existed, the decision of whether to tell her about it depended on her mood. The difficulty was, a small problem today might become a major problem in a couple of days. Top management was aware of this shortcoming and to my knowledge this person has never received another promotion. Managers should be emotionally stable people because others are depending on them. Dependable, like a rock, a steadying force, upbeat.
"I think people depend on me a lot because I'm really stable. I'm an upbeat person and it takes a lot to get me down. I'm a steadying influence when I'm part of a team. If morale is down a bit I won't be the cheerleader, but I will lead by example. I'll be the type who says "Come on guys, we can do it, we just have to hang in there." People tend to follow and when they see me moving ahead it gives them the confidence that we really can do it."
Empathetic people epitomize those who are able and willing to walk a mile in another's moccasins. They intuitively sense when people are having problems and they tend to be very compassionate. Empathetic people feel what others feel. They are willing to listen to people’s problems and they show genuine concern. They empower others by helping them resolve their own problems.
"I seem to have the ability to feel what others feel. I can sense when someone is having a problem even when there are no outward signs. And people can tell that I feel what they feel and they open up to me, even people I've never met before."
Energetic people always have that reserve energy when they need it. They can work a twelve- hour day and be almost as productive during the twelfth hour as the seventh. Others will put in the same amount of time, but their work begins to drop off precipitously after the ninth hour. In this sense, being energetic is related to endurance and stamina. In almost any business there will be times when people need to work those extra hours. It may be tax season for a CPA, Christmas rush for a retailer, or simply those unpredictable rush projects that just have to get out. Their enthusiasm and energy helps get others excited about the work at hand. They can also instantly elevate their energy to take care of a problem. Employers look for evidence that a person is energetic. High energy person.
"I can work long hours and get a lot done. I just don't seem to get tired—as long as I have a challenging project I keep working at it until it's done. If I've got to get something done in a couple hours and it would normally take four hours to do, I just move into high gear and get really focused. I wouldn't want that all the time, but I like challenges like that from time to time."
Every employer wants to hire enthusiastic people. No one can be enthusiastic about everything, but enthusiastic people get enthusiastic about many things. They look forward to trying new things even if they are a little scary. Some people are openly enthusiastic about things while others demonstrate "quiet enthusiasm." Quiet enthusiasm may not be displayed emotionally, but is demonstrated through a deep sense of the person’s convictions.
Do everything you can to sell your enthusiasm for the job, your boss, the company, and the position you are interviewing for. Enthusiastic people are perceived as those who will be more loyal, work harder, stay with the employer longer, and accept any assignment given them.
"My enthusiasm tends to rub off on people. When I get behind a project I become the evangelist and others want to be a part of it." "Give me an interesting project and I will really get enthusiastic about it. I get very creative and I think about it all the time, coming up with ideas that will make it better."
Flexible people adapt well and do not get upset every time a policy or procedure is changed. They can handle it when they are taken off one project and put on another. They adjust their work style to get along with different types of people and with different groups or teams. In today's economy, organizations must be flexible and flexible organizations require flexible people. Adaptable. Roll with the waves.
"I'm a very flexible person. In this industry you have to be. I can handle numerous responsibilities even though I do have some favorites. When you work for a small company like mine you have to wear several hats and I actually like that. In a fast paced industry like this you've got to be ready to try new things. If you hold on to one thing too long and before you know it the whole industry has passed you by. "I'm very flexible. I can work well in a lot of different environments, with different types of people, doing different types of things. We're facing a lot of change in my company—we have to to survive—and I see it as a challenge instead of something to be resisted."
Forgiving people do not hold grudges. Forgiving people are not naïve and they don’t try to make excuses for the person who did the wrong, they just don’t waste time or energy being angry. Forgiving people know that even good friends may sometimes let them down. They also know that friendships are too valuable to be damaged by a grudge or feud. To forgive is to stop wishing the past were different.
Friendly and nice people are not necessarily gregarious and outgoing. Some shy and reserved people are very friendly; it just may take longer to get to know them. Friendly people tend to be friendly to everyone and don't snub or ignore others. They try to include them in the group and they are good listeners. They are friendly to those with lower level positions as well as those above them. They help out whenever they can and tend to be very cooperative.
"I like people and people seem to like me. I get along with just about everyone and I go out of my way to be friendly with people. I know a lot of people and I enjoy meeting new people."
Generous people are generous with time and money. A person's generosity is often best tested by their willingness to give of their time.
Goal-oriented people always have goals they are actively working on. They don't live in the world of "someday I'll." They have short-range and long-range goals that have been written out with clearly specified objectives. Goal-oriented people know that achieving their lofty goals will take time and they are willing to invest the time. When obstacles pop up they look for ways to overcome them rather than get discouraged. Goal oriented people love to dream, but they make their dreams come true. Directed. Focused.
"I know where I'm going." "I set a few key goals for myself and then work really hard at attaining them. I'm very focused and I know what I want to accomplish in life. When I accomplish one goal there's always another one to take its place."
Growth-oriented people are always looking for ways to grow and expand. There is always another horizon, another challenge, for the growth oriented person. They read and study on their own, they attend seminars at their own expense, and they ask to attend company sponsored seminars. They like to observe experts and try to learn everything they can from them. The growth-oriented person may fear trying a new thing but is willing to overcome that fear. Growth-oriented people like to experiment and are not afraid of failures or setbacks.
"I never want to become stagnant. I've always got to be learning something new or improving in some area of my life. That's why I read a lot of personal growth books and try to put the ideas into practice. I love attending seminars and getting new ideas from experts."
People who take initiative don’t wait for someone to give them an assignment. They are always looking for ways to improve things and to do those things that need doing. When necessary, those who take initiative will obtain formal approval from a boss, particularly if the action requires funds. Otherwise, those with initiative simply find ways to carve out the time in their schedules to complete the task.
“I’m the type of person who will take initiative. When I see something that can be improved, and it’s in my area of responsibility, I’ll just find a way to fix it or improve it. My past bosses have
Inquisitive people want to know about everything.. They want to know what makes things work. They dig deeper and they work on problems longer. They sometimes discover the answer in the obvious, which everyone else simply ignored. They typically turn over more stones and refuse to give up until a solution is achieved.
"I've always been one who wanted to know how and why something worked. I've never been satisfied with superficial information so I tend to dig a lot more than other people. I'll look at things from many angles and generally come up with a twist on something that others haven't seen or recognized. If I'm dealing with a problem I’ll try everything to come up with the cause and then find a solution."
Insightful people see things others do not see. Their insight might be in human behavior and be expressed as an excellent parent, manager, or poet. Others have insight in the physical realm and make medical or physics-related discoveries. Insightful people use the same information available to others, and then see relationships that others don't see.
"I seem to have an ability to see things others don't see. I pull ideas and information from a lot of different sources, and sometimes even different disciplines. I'll then make a connection between things that perhaps no one has done before."
People with integrity keep their word. They do not lie or stretch the truth. They speak up when they see something occurring that is unfair or unethical. People with integrity will do the right thing even if it hurts them financially or in some other way. People with integrity are trusted and respected..
In interviews I recommend that people not say "I'm a person with a great deal of integrity." Instead, say something like: "Wherever I've been I’ve established a reputation for integrity." Just as the more you claim to be honest the more I'll question it, the same is true of integrity. That's why it is better to indicate you have a reputation for integrity. While you are speaking to someone, there is obviously no one present to confirm it, but in essence you are letting these unknown people speak for you. Of course, you should be prepared to discuss how you have gained that reputation. People of integrity are highly valued, so look for ways to demonstrate it.
"I have a reputation for integrity with my customers. If I make a suggestion to them, they know it's because I think it will work for them and not just because it's good for me or my company."
Joyful people are a joy to be around. The word joyful implies something deeper than happiness. Happiness is more dependent on outward circumstances being favorable, while joyful people can express joy even while many negative things are occurring in their lives. Joyfulness is more consistent while happiness easily rises and falls.
“I really enjoy life, with all its ups and downs. To me life is an adventure. I get just about as much pleasure out of work as I do during a vacation or when I’m skiing or hiking because it’s all part of being human.”
The loyal person sticks by his or her friends when they are going through difficulties. A loyal employee may stay with a company that is facing serious problems. A loyal subordinate does everything possible to make the boss and organization look good.
Loyal people are still valued in today's business world even though we see less loyalty shown today by both companies and individuals. As with integrity and joyfulness, it is best to demonstrate loyalty. You might do this by mentioning a specific skill that you have and then backing it up with an example. The example might be an instance in which you had to forego something you wanted to do in order to accomplish something for your company. A halfway perceptive person will recognize the loyalty displayed there. Loyalty implies sacrifice. Another example might be how you stayed with a company that was going down the tubes and even had some paychecks delayed. These are just examples to show how you might demonstrate that you are a loyal person even though you might never use the word during an interview.
"I think loyalty is still important. Last year my company was having financial difficulties and on three or four occasions my checks were a week late. Morale was also down because we had a few layoffs and our sales were really down. Some of my coworkers got fed up with it all and left. I felt though that my boss had taken a chance on me when he hired me four years ago and I owed him something. Besides, I felt they were doing the best they could to turn things around and that they were being fair to people. Within a year things started to improve and as we started growing again I got a promotion that gave me a lot more responsibility. I might have been making more money if I'd gone somewhere else, but I wouldn't have learned as much. Besides, I have a great boss."
Maturity does not come strictly with age. It is that quality we sense in people who do not let their ego or hurt feelings get in the way of doing what is right. In fact, it is rather difficult to hurt their feelings. They have high self-esteem, so saying something critical of them tends to slide right off. Mature people make good decisions because they have experienced and observed a lot (even if young in years) and thus have a sense of the consequences of their decisions or actions. They tend to remain calm in crisis situations. They rely a lot on common sense. The person in their 20s or 30s who might be described as "mature beyond their years" should seek to sell this quality.
"I think I've been entrusted with a lot of responsibility wherever I've worked because my boss always trusted me and knew I would make good decisions. I'll take on the dirty jobs if I have to and I can handle the really critical ones. I think it helps too that I don't let my feelings get hurt if someone disagrees with me or even works against me. I don't hold grudges, I just want results."
Motivated people are focused and dedicated. They have a clear sense of purpose and all of their energy goes toward achieving a goal. The motivated person works harder and smarter than others and can work for long periods at peak capacity.
Motivated people are not workaholics. Instead they work at peak capacity throughout the day and then go home and enjoy themselves. Employers look for self-motivated people. You just give them a project or challenge and they take off. Highly motivated people will even put high energy into less desirable projects.
"One of my strengths is that I'm a really motivated person. If I'm given a task that doesn’t seem that important or exciting, I'll still put everything I have into it because that's the most important thing I'm working on at that moment. I was taught that if something's worth doing, it's worth doing well and I believe that. Once I'm into something I take off. I've taken projects home with me and spent hours on them in the evening because I was on a roll and just didn't want to stop. I know that on numerous occasions my motivation helped motivate others."
Open-minded people are willing to see all sides of an issue and they tend to be flexible. Open-minded people make good mediators because they gain the trust of people. They are liked because they are usually good listeners and are not interested in blaming. Flexible.
"I'm a very open-minded person. Even if I have strong feelings about something I'll listen to anyone because they may have some insight or a new view on something that will help me. My pet peeve is closed-minded people because it seems such a waste to develop one view and then not even be willing to consider other views. That quality has made me a better manager. I've had staff make recommendations where my first inclination was to totally shut them down because it was so contrary to what we've done in the past, but they know I feel an obligation to listen, so I do. On several occasions I was able to see the merit in their recommendations and we decided to try it. I think in every case it worked."
As a humorist put it, optimists are not always right, but they do enjoy life more. Optimists see the glass half full while pessimists see it half empty. Optimists are more fun to be around because they look for the positive in everything and don’t waste their time complaining. Optimists tend to be cheerful. They don't worry about the past. Instead, they look forward to the future. In addition, optimists and pessimists often have to deal with their own self-fulfilling prophecies. I prefer the self-fulfilling prophecies of the optimists. I always look on the positive side of things.
"I just always have the sense that there is a way to make things work out. If I can't, then I tend to accept what has happened and go on to the next project. I never cry over spilled milk because that is such a waste of time and energy. I think that because I think so positively that many things worked out just because of the attitude I took."
Patient people make excellent supervisors and trainers. They are more willing to listen and more willing to answer questions. They are not bothered when someone asks the same question twice. Patient people are important in business because they are willing to give something enough time to prove itself, and don't demand instant results. Patient managers have been known to turn around employees that everyone else had given up on. Given the right opportunities these people can become very capable and valued people—and loyal. Patient people are around for the long haul and do not expect instant results. A patient person sets long-term goals and then is prepared to work toward those goals over a period of several years.
"I think my patience has really paid off on a number of occasions. I inherited a staff person who just seemed very slow in picking things up. I felt I saw some determination in this person and decided to try an experiment. I removed her from the ten or so tasks she had been doing, and I gave her four new tasks, three of which were things that no one else in the department wanted to do, but they were critical to the department. Then I spent many hours working with her on those areas. Once she truly understood how everything worked together, and she found that I wasn't going to get mad at her every time she made a mistake, she dug in and got to know everything there was to know in her new specialties. Now she takes a lot of pride in her work because people come to her for advice when they have problems. They know she's the expert."
Persistent people never give up. They are motivated when they hear the story of Edison when he told a reporter that he had not failed 2000 times, he had merely identified 2000 different filaments that would not create a successful incandescent light bulb. Persistent people try and try again. A persistent person is not hardheaded or inflexible, however. When it becomes clear that a strategy is not working and will not work, the persistent person turns decisively in a new direction and continues in that direction with drive and enthusiasm. When the persistent person must change directions, virtually no time is spent dwelling on mistakes, other than to quickly assess what can be learned from them. Look for examples in your background where you were persistent and it paid big dividends. Won’t give up
"When I start working on a project people say I'm like a bulldog—I just won't give up until the thing is done."
Real people are genuine—what you see is what you get. They don't try to appear to be something they aren't. Neither do they try to impress people. They are never phony. Their self-confidence is often contagious and helps others relax and open up. What you see is what you get. Genuine.
“People have told me that what they like about me is that I’m real and genuine. I certainly don’t put on airs. I’m not sophisticated and I don’t try to be. I like simple things.
Reliable people will never have trouble finding a job because they will always get wonderful recommendations from former bosses. You can't even imagine an employer not wanting someone who is reliable. It is an absolute requirement in most jobs. Reliability includes getting to work on time and rarely missing work due to illness, but it goes far beyond that. The ultimate in reliability comes when you are recognized as a "can do person"—that person who can always be depended on and always finds a way to complete tasks. People develop reputations for reliability, and managers will vie for those people to get them on their task forces. When crunch time comes a manager will always give the most critical project—that one which absolutely, positively must be done right—to the most reliable person available. Reliable people are recognized and they get promoted. Reliable people keep their word. When they say they will do something or be somewhere, it's a done deal. No one has to think twice or worry about whether it will get done.
In interviewing I talk about the four ways to get employers excited about you. They are: showing how you can make money, save money, solve problems, and reduce the stress and pressure your boss faces. Reliable people reduce stress because once the boss assigns a task, he or she knows it will get done. It’s great knowing that something is getting done and not having to worry about it.
Reliable people and unreliable people think and act in different ways. When working on a project which turns out to be far more difficult than originally presumed, the unreliable person will often hope for a miracle. Three and a half weeks into a four week project the person will come to the boss and say it can't be completed on schedule and will list all the reasons why. By that time of course, it is too late to do anything about the situation and there may be serious repercussions to the company.
The reliable person would have handled it differently. Perhaps two weeks into the project it became clear that there were unanticipated problems. The reliable person would go to the boss and explain that either more resources must be devoted to the project or the deadline needs to be extended. In other instances the reliable person would simply devote additional time to get it done. In another instance it might require motivating the staff and getting them to put in additional time as well. In any case, reliable people find ways to get the job done.
"When I agree to take on a project my boss knows it's as good as done. Once I have the necessary guidelines and a completion date, I go to it. The same is true with community service projects I get involved in. If I take something on—and I won't if I don't think I can do a good job—people know it's going to be really high quality stuff."
Responsible people are almost always reliable and reliable people are virtually always responsible. In fact the two are similar, yet also different. It is possible, however, for a person to be very reliable yet not want to take on greater responsibility. The first measure of a responsible person is reliability — you can trust the person. Some take responsibility to the next level — they seek to take on more responsibility. Responsible people are usually growth oriented and they hate to stagnate. They also realize that they, not their boss, is ultimately responsible for their own career progress. As a result they often volunteer for tasks, or they ask if they can take over a function that the boss has handled in the past. At other times they just start doing something on their own because they know it will be beneficial.
"I love taking on more responsibility. I like trying new things and I seek challenges. When I'm on a new job I'll learn everything as thoroughly as possible, then I start looking for things that could be improved or things that need to be done. Some things I'll just start doing on my own, and for others I know I need the approval of my boss."
Resourceful people make do when they don't have all the tools or resources that are usually required for a task or project. Somehow they find a way. Others show their resourcefulness by obtaining the necessary resources through other than normal channels.
"I've always been a person who can make do with whatever is available. We'll just find a way to make something work. Sometimes it looks like it's being held together with baling wire, but we make it work. It's not pretty, but when you lack the necessary resources sometimes you just have to make do."
Risk taking people take calculated risks not crazy risks. They weigh the odds carefully and when a reasonable chance for success exists, they go for it. Risk takers do not fear failure because the word failure has no meaning to them. If they fall on their face they will simply get back up and either try it again or try something different. In an interview you would not typically say, "I'm a risk taker." Instead you might say, "I'm not afraid to try something new," or "I weigh things carefully, but when I see an opportunity that could make the company a lot of money, I'll put everything I've got behind it to make it successful."
I respect risk takers, but as a small businessman if I hire someone who says he is a risk taker, I'm very aware that he will soon be risking my money and not his. That's why it is usually not wise to come right out and say you're a risk taker. There are exceptions, however. Assume that the employer has stated clearly that there are risks because the company is young. If it succeeds, it will succeed big and everyone will be wealthy, but if it fails, the company might not exist in a year or two. If you are firmly ensconced in a nice cushy job with total security, you would need to convince the employer that you are indeed a risk taker and that this opportunity is a risk you want to take.
"The way I look at it, you'll never get anywhere if you don't take a chance once in a while. Sometimes they pay off and sometimes they don't. I try to minimize my risk if the thing doesn't work out, and maximize my gain if it does."
Self-confident people let you know they are self-confident just by the way they talk and carry themselves. Self-confidence is demonstrated more than discussed. If you lack some experience which seems important to the job, the employer may ask if you feel you can handle it. How you respond will make a major difference in whether you get the offer. Come across as confident but not cocky.
"I have confidence in my abilities. I know my limitations, but if I know I can do something I really go for it. That's why I'm excited about this position."
Sense of Humor
People with a good sense of humor are fun to work wit. They can laugh at themselves and they never use humor to put others down. People with a good sense of humor often have a quick wit, but others demonstrate their sense of humor just by being able to laugh at amusing things in life.
You do have to be careful how you sell this quality. No one wants a cut up or a practical jokester. The best way to sell a sense of humor is by demonstrating it — and I don't mean with a string of one liners. In most interviews I've been on, somewhere during the interview the two of us found something to laugh about. It might be that the employer said something amusing or told an amusing story. He started to laugh and I quickly joined in with a sincere laugh or at least a good smile. Sometimes that was it. At other times I then told an amusing story and again we laughed, or just had good broad smiles on our faces. When you laugh, avoid the belly-laugh-roll-in-the-aisle type. I have seen people laugh almost uncontrollably and it is not very becoming. I have also seen applicants say something which they thought was extremely funny and they began laughing very hard while the employer thought it barely deserved a slight smile. Watch the interviewer and match your laugh to his or hers. If the interviewer says something which he thinks is quite amusing and has a big grin on his face, you must at least be able to put a nice smile on yours. Think of how it feels when the person across from you is laughing and you have a stone cold stare on your face. Immediately the employer asks himself, "What's wrong with this person?"
"People say they enjoy working with me. When things get tense or stressed I get people to lighten up with my sense of humor."
When sincere people say something, you know they really mean it. You'll get no flattery from them. When sincere people say they like your dress or your suit, you know they mean it and they make you feel good. When an insincere person gives a compliment you wonder what the person is after. Demonstrate sincerity during the interview. Genuine.
"I say what I mean and I mean what I say." "People know that when I say something or recommend something, it is only because I really believe it."
Tactful people know how to say the right thing at the right time. They speak in encouraging terms. When they need to say something critical they know how to say it in a way that does not offend people. Diplomatic.
“Since I deal with a lot of angry people, I’ve got to be tactful. Sometimes I just want to tell people off, but I know I can’t. I’ve learned how to listen and then say just the right thing to calm people down. I’ve worked at it. It didn’t come naturally.”
Thorough people believe that if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing right. Everything they do is thorough. When they research something they really research it. When they complete a project it is really done—there are no loose ends for someone to take care of later. If a project is being planned, all of the details have been taken care of.
"I'm a detail oriented person. I'm very thorough. When I do something I do it right the first time.
Warm people enable you to relax immediately in their presence. They are comforting and enjoyable to be around. They open up immediately to others which enables others to open up to them.
"I develop rapport very quickly with people and standoffish people often warm up to me very quickly."