Employers today are looking for savvy job candidates who possess leadership, strategic thinking, communication and creative problem-solving skills. Stand out from the competition and show that you have these skills. The six "Qs" below represent what every job seeker needs to have and how to show them off when meeting potential employers:
IQ: Smarts and critical thinking skills. Companies are looking for people who can problem-solve at a high level. Executives want people who can strategize, recognize patterns and see the big picture. Showcase examples of how you exhibit these skills. Ask great questions — ones that demonstrate knowledge of the company and deep thoughtfulness. While "smarts" may get you into the game, they are not enough to help you win in the war for talent. There are plenty of bright people who have never made it because they lack social skills.
EQ: Emotional intelligence quotient. This is your ability to read your own emotions and adjust accordingly to stay even-keeled, guide your thinking and build relationships. Your EQ is also your ability to read others' emotions — your interpersonal savvy, including listening skills. At job fairs and interviews these things come into play in your ability to read a recruiter or interviewer and genuinely connect. Savvy candidates have already done their homework and can ask thoughtful questions about the interviewer and his or her professional background in the company. This effort will impress recruiters and really help you stand out. And stay in tune with how they are reacting to you — this will give you clues about when to wrap up and move on.
PQ: Passion quotient. All employers are looking for passion. When meeting potential employers, convey that you have that "fire in the belly" because those are the people companies want to hire. What does passion look like? Used LinkedIn to research recruiters before meeting them. Show excitement about the firm, smile and be animated. Companies are looking for people who will go above and beyond, and who aren't just thinking of themselves when making an impact. The Gallup Corp. points to loyalty, psychological commitment (being "all in" on a firm) and discretionary behavior (volunteering to help other people, staying late when needed, etc.) to measure employee engagement. Give employers examples of how you'll exhibit these traits.
CQ: Cultural quotient. You should be able to pick up on and adapt to cultural nuances in the way business is done in different counties or regions. This is important to multinational organizations and firms with offices in different regions of the U.S. And it really is critical to be able to connect with co-workers with diverse backgrounds in any firm. In a job interview, this can come down to picking up on these differences and showing sensitivity.
CRQ: Courage quotient. A lot of leaders and CEOs who have spoken at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business say they are looking for candidates who will challenge the status quo and ask the tough questions to push their organizations forward. They want employees who have the courage and conviction to speak up and back up their convictions when challenged. On the job, you will have to make tough calls — hiring, firing, etc. When interacting with a recruiter, show your courage by having the vulnerability, for example, to share an authentic response when asked the typical "Tell me about your greatest weakness" question.
IMQ: Improvisation quotient. This represents the ability to think outside the box, be curious, be adaptable and do more with less. In changing and uncertain times, every employer wants people who can think on their feet, be flexible and even innovate under times of duress, stress or ambiguity. Be ready with examples of how you have done this in previous jobs. Demonstrate intellectual curiosity by conducting informational interviews or shadowing business leaders in order to learn more about jobs, company cultures and emerging trends. Enroll in an improv class to sharpen your creative thinking and risk-taking.
All of these "Qs" play together and are each important. But how do you know which is the most important? Before you go on that job interview, find out as much as you can about the firm, the position and the people who will be conducting the interview. Visit companies' websites. Read up on a company's mission and talk to others who work there (or previously worked there). Leverage social media like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Glassdoor.com to get an inside look at a company's culture. Then when you do come face to face with that employer, you'll be ready to show off your "Qs" and how all of your skills align with what the company really wants.
Kudisch is assistant dean of corporate relations and managing director of the Office of Career Services at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.