College graduates or other young professionals who have acquired little or no relevant work experience still need to make a credible and convincing case in an interview. The good news is that for many employers, character traits are equally as important as work experience. Specific traits that employers seek can vary, but some are universal.
- Strong work ethic: Think through several ways of showcasing your strong work ethic. Did you rise early every morning in high school to shovel neighbors’ driveways as a source of income? Did you volunteer at a local soup kitchen once a week throughout college? Maybe you took care of a younger sibling or volunteered to lead a college community group. Think of examples that show consistent, hard work, even if they don’t relate to a specific job.
- Creativity: Explain how you were able to produce something in a fresh or unusual manner or talk about times you were able to work around problems to reach a solution.
- Integrity: Discuss a situation in which you were able to discern the difference between right and wrong. This is particularly effective if you did the right thing despite pressure to do the opposite.
- Responsibility: Describe in detail times you have been trusted to use good judgment and sound thinking to complete important projects on time. Perhaps you organized a fundraiser, managed a daily dog-walking business, or wrote a weekly column for the college newspaper. Stress examples in which you were responsible for delivering quality work while meeting deadlines consistently.
Many employers recognize that most job skills can be taught. However, this is not necessarily the case with character traits mentioned above. This is the reason why many employers consider investing in employees with backgrounds that demonstrate impressive character.