Photo: fizkes (Shutterstock)
You know the token “funny one” at your workplace? Well, those coworkers are self-aware, and they’re speaking out. It’s called being a “personality hire,” and the term is trending on TikTok from those claiming that their charisma landed them their job, rather than the qualifications on their resume.
Beneath the jokes and the self-deprecation, there’s some truth to the art to showing employers that you have a good personality. There’s a lot that goes into charming your interviewers—like with the importance of preparing stories—but to what extent is a “personality hire” a real thing? I spoke with Toni Frana, career services manager at FlexJobs and Remote.co. Here’s what you need to know about the role your personality could play in landing your next job.
Personality is key, but it isn’t everything
The idea of a true “personality hire”—someone with no skills, just vibes—is a bit far-fetched. In most industries, personality alone won’t land you a job. Still, Frana points out that HR and hiring managers evaluate factors that go beyond the requirements of the job. They might do this by asking key questions that relate to a candidate’s cultural fit, or “how well their personality, character, values, and professional goals align with the organization.” After all, many employers use the hiring process to get as much insight as possible into whether or not you’ll be a true match for the company in the long run.
Of course, the reality is that not all job seekers are evaluated equally. You could shine in an interview and still lose out to the manager’s son or frat brother. Or maybe your incredible sense of humor doesn’t resonate with the old white man conducting your interview. The idea of a “personality hire” is rife with privilege, so take all of this with a grain of salt.
Personality can tip the scale during the hiring process
Frana puts it this way: “While skills can often be taught, personality needs to fit the team.” Your sense of humor, communication style, and likability will have a strong impact during the interview process. In fact, Frana finds that even if you don’t perfectly meet all of the job qualifications, personality can tip the scale in your favor. Use your unique personality to demonstrate that you’ll have a positive impact on your future workplace.
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Tips to let your personality shine during the interview
Letting your beautiful personality shine through isn’t always easy. After all, for most of us an interview isn’t the ideal setting to relax and “be yourself.” Especially when you’re burnt out from applying to job after job and rarely hearing back.
However, Frana emphasizes that optimism really stands out to employers. Try really hard to show aspects of your personality like optimism throughout the process, from your cover letter to the final interview. Here are top personality traits hiring managers value, according to Frana:
- Leadership ability
Balance your personality with professionalism
While Frana recommends showing “a sense of levity and humor during the interview,” she strongly advises that you still remain professional. Some of the best ways to let your personality shine but stay professional when interviewing include:
- Have a story ready to help break the ice within the first 30 seconds of your interview. It doesn’t have to be work-related, but it should still be professional (e.g., something about volunteering or a family vacation).
- Smile while telling a story about a positive work experience.
- Don’t be afraid to tell your boss-to-be what you want to say, as long as you do it in a respectful way.
- Pretend your interview is simply a conversation between the two of you, which can help you to focus on actually having fun and represent your personality, skills, and experience in the best possible light.
While you might not get a gig based on charisma alone, your personality can help you gain an edge. Make yourself stand out against other applicants by coming across as a well-rounded, likable person. And while you’re charming the pants off your interviewer, make sure you’re ready to answer these questions that you can expect in just about any job interview.
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