What employers are looking for in jobseekers?

  • Want to apply for the awesome job you have just seen advertised?
  • Want to know how to get that edge over other candidates?

If we knew exactly what employers wanted, we would surely get our dream job right..? Yes, we certainly would!

However, this is where the problem lies…  often, we don’t really know what employers want. So many different factors come into play such as a person’s characteristics, behaviours, aptitude and attitude. There is a lot more to “getting that job” than meeting the physical/academic requirements of the position.

You have to think of it as a relationship.

Let’s pretend for a second that employers are people looking to enter into a serious relationship. (i.e. they want to get married!)

Now we have to ask ourselves, why do they want to get married? What has caused this urge or need in them?

Is it possible they realise that they need someone new in their life? (i.e. this could be a newly created position, or a staff member has resigned!)

Or maybe they have just been through a divorce (i.e. they fired an incompetent worker and are looking for someone better to come along!)

Maybe they are going from strength to strength and need more people in their family. (i.e. the company is growing!)

Here are some hints and tips on “what employers are looking for in an interview”


1. Meeting the selection Criteria

Employers want someone that can fulfil the duties and responsibilities of the role. Employers generally want someone who is ready to step straight into the role with little training.

Because of company costs, time restraints and whether the candidate will be suitable after all of the time and money invested in them, employers are slowly moving towards a specific selection criteria in their job ads, that usually requires a certain amount of skills/experience.

This is easier for the employer as they don’t have to train new employees or invest a great deal of manpower or financial resources into them. And because they already have the skills/experience, it usually means they have come from this industry and know “what it’s all about” as opposed to someone new to the industry who “wants to get a feel of the industry” and requires a great deal of training and moulding to company requirements and standards in the hope make a career out of it.

Work experience is a great way to build on the skills, knowledge and experience that employers are looking for. Employers will look favourably upon applicants who have made the effort to go and learn on the job and have demonstrated that they are serious about gaining employment in the field.

Unfortunately, it is becoming less common these days for jobs to be advertised with “full training provided.” Undertaking work experience will definitely get you a foot in the door!

Quick Tip: Ensure you specifically address the required selection criteria in each job application. This shows the advertiser that you can actually read the ad properly and you are telling them how your skills will fulfil their requirements. Get a trustworthy friend or colleague to read your selection criteria application to give you some feedback.

2. Attitude/enthusiasm/willingness to learn

I’m not saying if you don’t have the skills required, you will never get the job. Though this is true most cases, there is something we all have in us that can sometimes overcome any selection criteria – it’s called attitude. If an employer can see that you have the right attitude, strong enthusiasm and keenness and that you are here to stick around with their company for the long term, you may just bypass that selection criteria if you can show them you are worth investing that time and money into because you will ‘add value to their organisation’.

3. Results, results, results

The proof is in the pudding – proof of past success! Ideally employers want to fill the role with somebody who has not only the industry experience, but also the successful track record to back it up. If you can show them that your skills and experience has led you to success and achievement of past KPI’s/targets, you are well on your way to securing the position. This shows that you can not only ‘talk-the-talk’ because let’s face it, anyone can talk things up, but it proves that you can also ‘walk-the-walk’!

4. Presentation

You’re getting ready for a hot date. Tonight’s the night. You have been dreaming about this day. So go on, put on your best clothes, make sure you’re looking sharp, best perfume, practice in the mirror for an hour what you’re going to say before meeting him/her because you want to make a good first impression. You want them to be impressed and like you. You pop some mints for extra fresh breath and leave early, because there is no way you’re going to be late and miss this big important date…right?

So why is it then, when you go for a job interview, you wear “whatever,” and “that’ll do,” “good enough”, “oh no, now I’m late, I still need to look up the address how to get there.”?

It comes down to how bad you want it and where your priorities lie.

So, make sure you turn up to your job interview looking sharp, well dressed, on time and ready!

5. Research

What do you know about us? This is a common question asked in job interviews! Do some research on the company you supposedly want a long-term career with before the interview. Employers love it when you know about their values, their organisational mission and their history. It makes them feel like you actually know who they are, what their company is all about and why you want a career with them. Couple this with your physical presentation, and they’ll be falling in love with you in no time! Remember, first impressions last. People judge you in those first few minutes, so everything you do and say needs to sit well with your possible new employer.

6. Follow up

It is amazing how many people apply for a job and say, “I didn’t get that job, I never heard back from them.”

Have you ever considered following up to see what’s happening with your application?

Quick Tip: I can never say this enough… “employers love it when you follow up- they want you to follow up.”

One of the biggest problems for employers is convincing themselves which candidates are really serious, are there for the right reasons and really want to represent their organisation. On average, 8/10 people don’t follow up on an application. And the 2 that do, more often than not get a face to face interview/meeting.  It tells the employer that this person has actually bothered to pick up the phone or come in person to follow up. It shows that you want the opportunity more than others and helps the employer screen the serious candidates from the ones they’re not too sure on. It links in with being proactive and using your initiative, which are skills that employers are looking for.

If you really want that job you applied for so badly, why not give them a call and follow up on your application? The employer will certainly appreciate it and it is a way for them to remember you when going through the resumes of possible suitable candidates. Like I said, most people just click ‘apply’ and hope for the best. If you to stand out from the crowd, pick up the phone or go and visit them and give them a reason to remember you!


I hope these tips have provided you with some fact on what employers are looking for.

We offer work experience or work placement for every Nationally Recognised Qualifications we deliver in a practical environment.

Want to learn more, check out our website for more information about our courses or call us on 1300 790 265.


Article by: Ayaaz Salehmahomed

Stirling Institute – Workplace Coordinator


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