Long gone are the days when academic excellence was enough to secure you the job of your dreams. Now employers are looking for much more than academic ability, they are also looking for a range of skills and competencies that will allow you to perform well and add value to their business.
Each employer’s requirements will vary from company to company and between roles, however there are some common themes that are important to most employers.
Common skills and competencies
Motivation – what interests you about the industry, company and role that you’re applying to? A common question we have seen this year at interview is “What differentiates us compared to our competitors?”.
Commercial awareness – do you understand what is going on in the industry / company that you are applying to, what are the challenges (threats) and where are opportunities – these are external factors and what are the strengths & weaknesses of the company – these are usually internal factors? A common question we have seen this year at interview is “Tell me about something that you have read about that is having an impact on our industry?”.
Teamwork – A key skill for most companies is that they want to know that you can contribute effectively in a team environment and also take on board the views and ideas of others. A common question we have seen this year at interview is “Give me an example of a time where you have worked as part of a team successfully, what makes you a good team player?”.
Communication/interpersonal skills – Whether it’s communicating with people in your team or with clients, employers expect you to be able to communicate both effectively and professionally. A common question we have seen this year at interview is “Give me an example of a time where you have successfully influenced someone to your way of thinking”.
Problem Solving – Ability to look at a problem and solve it in a logical way, demonstrating persistence and not giving up. A common question we have seen this year at interview is “Tell me about a time you overcame a challenge”.
Responsibility – Do you pro-actively seek to take on more responsibility? A common question we have seen this year at interview is “Tell me about your most significant responsibility to date”.
So how can you develop the skills you haven’t got?
Employers will want to see evidence of these skills so you will need to be able to demonstrate you possess them.
Start thinking now about the skills you need in your chosen career route, if there are skills you feel you would struggle to give examples of in an interview, you probably need to do something to develop these skills further, there are a range of ways in which you can do this, join a society or club and take an active role on the committee or organising an event, part time work, volunteer work, are just some of the things you can get involved in that can help you with some of these skills,
With regards to demonstrating Motivation and Commercial awareness skills, you need to do your research, think about what it is that motivates you to the company and industry as well as the role that your applying for, keep track of what is happening in the industry you are applying to, what are the challenges and opportunities are for the industry, are there any major political, economic or environmental factors that are having an impact on the industry? There are a number of resources you can use to keep up to date with this information, from the Financial Times to industry specific publications.
The key is to start thinking about it gaining these skills now so your prepared when you start going through the recruitment processes in a couple of months’ time.
Look out for our next blog on Thursday 14th August about building your commercial awareness.