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by Vault Careers | September 29, 2011


Looking for a new job is always a stressful time, but a new study shows that many job seekers are not as prepared as they should be when they head into an interview.

raising hands to skyAccording to the study by researchers at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), employers look at three main factors when looking at job candidates.

1. Proof of knowledge or ability to learn the job

Employers want to know that a new worker will be able to perform the job based on knowledge, experience and training, or will be able to learn how to do it. In a perfect world, a candidate would be able to excel on day one. Job seekers without the proper background should be prepared to demonstrate their willingness and ability to learn new skills.

UCSD sociologist Mary Walshok, author of "Closing America's Job Gap," said employers look at more than resumes when it comes to understanding a candidate's potential for doing the job.

"The employers perceived that the nimbleness of their organization and the rapidly changing marketplace required them to have employees who could adapt and change with the marketplace. Direct experience, while relevant, was not as important as the demonstrated ability to adapt and perform in new circumstances," Walshock noted.

2. Evidence of dependability

Employers want to make sure that a candidate not only has potential, but is reliable. Job seekers often shy away from talking about work attendance and dependability during the interviewing process, but employers want to know that their new hire will show up and be committed to the job.

In Illinois, for example, small business owners are trying to fight legislation that would require companies to provide seven days of sick leave for workers. The National Federation of Independent Business said that the law would cost employers one hour for every 30 hours worked.

Employers know that poor attendance can cost a company thousands of dollars, and will want to know that a candidate shows up willing to put in the hours.

3. Punctuality

It's not only important to show up, but to be on time. Lateness, even for meetings, is not a quality that employers value. Poor punctuality can also signal laziness in other areas. Managers need to know they can rely on workers under any circumstance.  If you come to your job interview late, even with a reasonable excuse, it does not speak well for your chances.  Make sure you know how to get to the interview site, know the bus or train schedules, account for traffic, and leave early.  It's always better to show up earlier than late.  Demonstrating your punctuality won't guarantee you a job, but it is an important first step.  Don't stumble before you even get started. 

--Published Courtesy of Brafton (edits made by Jon Minners,