Four must-have personality traits for successful interviews

Aug 30, 2018
What are the top four personality traits that are most likely to help you land a job when you qualify? Let one of Barden’s career experts enlighten you...


At some stage in the future, you’re going to have an interview. Not a milkround or an internship interview – a real, grown up, qualified accountant interview. It might be for an internal promotion or an external move but either way, they’re inevitable. Get thinking about them sooner rather than later and you’ll be better prepared when the day comes.

So what traits will help you win? Nope, it’s not work ethic or honesty.   Our top four traits are:

1. Positivity

This is absolutely crucial to a good interview, but it isn’t necessarily about the ‘eyes and teeth’ type of radiant positivity you might imagine. It’s much more subtle. It’s a way of talking about each of your roles and viewing your career in a positive manner. A lot of people talk about why they left roles rather than why they took new opportunities, opening the floodgates for conversations about culture, roles and opportunities not being right, which is a no-no. For example, if you’re moving from audit, cite the positive reasons rather than negative reasons – irrespective of the reality. There is also something noticeable and attractive about someone who talks about their challenges or failures openly, but in a positive light. This shows that they have learned from the experience and grown as an individual; it demonstrates a strong focus on personal and professional development; and illustrates high levels of resilience – all of which are key to any new appointment.

2. Ownership

Similarly, people who own up to their mistakes as well as their successes are far more likely to be seen as having superior leadership potential. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about giving your interviewer an easy reading list of your mistakes. It’s about not glossing over elements of your career that have made you a better leader today. It’s also about taking ownership of your individual contribution to something. If it was you, and you alone, who was critical to the success of a project, be specific about it. Being clear about your role in an achievement communicates confidence and a sense of accountability for results. If you couldn’t have done it without your boss or your team, however, give them credit too.

3. Commitment

Don’t confuse commitment with loyalty. Loyalty is an attractive trait, of course, but it is an overused one in the interview world and quite difficult to prove. Commitment is more about proving that you stay the course, no matter how tough something is. You’ll likely have plenty of examples from your training contract! One of the most attractive traits in a new hire is a proven commitment to doing the right thing for their employer. This is quite different to loyalty, which can imply loyalty to an individual or cause. Commitment is about the bigger task at hand and having a sense of honour in delivering it.

4. Self-awareness

It worries me deeply when I ask someone what their team or boss would say about them, and they don’t know. Self-awareness – meaning not only your awareness of yourself but the awareness of what other people think of you and, in turn, your awareness of them – is key to good leadership. If you don’t know this, how can you lead effectively? In a world where emotional intelligence is key to any role, articulating your ability to be self-aware and aware of others is absolutely crucial.

Get thinking about these things now. Make some notes of relevant examples as they happen and use these insights strategically as you train, and you’ll be in the driving seat when you inevitably sit in the hot seat.