Some of the key attributes I have looked for in a fresh/reasonably fresh MBA pass out candidate during the course of my hiring years and later during Executive Search are:
Nothing can be more crucial than a candidate’s positive attitude. It would be appropriate to clarify here that this is about ‘positivity’ & ‘confidence’ and NOT about ‘over-confidence’ or ‘arrogance’. Often by observing the candidate’s choice of words, verbal and non-verbal communication, the interviewer gathers enough indication on the candidate’s attitude. This also often hints at the likelihood of the stability that one can anticipate from this candidate with the organization. A positive attitude often serves as the icing on the cake if the candidate is found suitable for a profile.
2. COMMON SENSE & UNDERSTANDING
The idea here is to judge if the candidate really understands what he/she is getting into. More often than not, many candidates simply apply for the job without realising what it means. Anyone who hasn’t really understood what the hiring organization does (not even bothering to visit their website or understanding more about their business operations) is a person who is there just to get a job and not a career. This person is probably motivated by all the wrong reasons (salary etc.) and not necessarily the job content, irrespective of what they claim in the interview. The longevity or stability of such candidate in the organization is also often very less. Sure, there may be times when the recruiter may not share clear role profile document. But mostly functional areas are reasonably clear. Also there are many ways to judge a candidate’s common sense.
A serious candidate would show up having done some home-work including reading about the organization’s business, visiting the website, some knowledge about the industry including competition, products/services being offered etc. If this gets coupled with an updated knowledge on the relevant ‘current affairs’, the candidate is likely to be viewed seriously for the position.
3. TEAM FITMENT
This includes teachability/agreeability, cross-cultural fitment, adjusting nature, being a quick learner etc. Essentially this person being a fresher or reasonable fresher is unlikely to be upfront placed in a leadership role and is more likely to be a part of a pre-existing team so has to be a good team-player thereby becoming organizational asset soon and not turning out to be an eventual liability.
4. PASSION / HUNGER / FIRE IN THE BELLY
The ideal person would be able to demonstrate some kind of passion for something in life. It doesn’t really matter if it is a particular academic subject or a game or a hobby. The genuine candidate would be able to substantiate the claim with the right answers. A genuine desire to excel in any field should be clearly evident in answers to the interviewer’s follow-up questions. The recruiter is definitely interested in a candidate if there’s a distinct connect established between the candidate’s passion and the available role profile. A candidate claiming interest in specific industry while not being updated on the industry trends and latest developments is obviously laying incorrect claims!
5. OVERALL GROOMED PERSONALITY
Dressing sense: Well groomed, smartly dressed candidate will obviously have an edge in addition to being self-confident.
Communication Skills: Though, this is more relevant in profiles that require people interaction (external or internal customers) like Business Development, Sales & Marketing, Logistics & operations etc. They may, however, be less relevant if the role is more for the back-end operations where the candidate has to mostly manage systems, churn data etc. That said, this does not in any way undermine the importance of communication and very specifically the non-verbal communication which is often considered more important. As a recruiter, I’ve made more correct judgements based on perceived non-verbal signals than what the candidate claimed in spoken words.
Professionalism: A candidate not arriving at the interview venue in time or not taking the phone call/ or remains unavailable for Skype/VC call at the designated time is not seen kindly. Unless the candidate has a legitimate compelling reason for such lapse and ideally the same being communicated at the soonest, it may go against even an otherwise positively placed candidate.
Courtesies & Manners: These can take even an average candidate farther in life than their abilities & capabilities. A well-groomed candidate will have excellent courtesies and manners that are likely to impress the interviewer/panel positively.
All said and done, some traits may be viewed as more important by one recruiter and less by another. Or, some traits may be more relevant for a particular assignment than the others. The above are just my two pennies for the cause and by no means an exhaustive list, but often an indication of the right candidate.