Truth be told, most employers hope that the first two or three candidates they see will all be A-players, eminently qualified, and hungry for the job.  That way they can fill the opening with an A-player and move ahead with the next opening.  With this in mind, here are the characteristics employers wish their candidates possessed or demonstrated during the interview:

1. I wish candidates were more likable. After all, if the interviewer finds someone unlikeable, chances are coworkers and customers will too.  People don’t give jobs to people they don’t like or don’t trust.

2. I wish candidates didn’t use superlatives all the time. Superlatives are words that describe the greatest extreme, such as the best, longest, most, and biggest.  While interviewers might believe a few of these, most results are not extremes.  A candidate who calls good “best,” or big “the biggest” seem prone to exaggeration and mistruth.

3. I wish candidates asked better questions. Questions that show they really understand the job and the company and want to be here.

a. Involvement questions are a great way to do this. An involvement question assumes that the candidate is on the job and is asking questions such as, “What kind of training would I receive in this area” or “What process or standards will be used to evaluate my first six months on the job?”

b. Performance questions show that the candidate has researched the company and the interviewers. An example might be, “I saw that {employer} had your third straight year of double-digit growth.  What do you see as the two biggest factors of this success, and what role would you like to see me play in making it a fourth straight year?”

4. I wish candidates asked for the job…but only after the interview and not before.A Asking for the job means a strong expression of confidence to do the job well and a desire to move to the next steps in the process.  Wait until you know you want the job before saying so.

5. I wish candidates stood out more but not in a negative way. The best candidates exude both confidence and humility, have thoroughly prepared, they simplify explanations and convince employers they are perfect for the job.  Interviewers would love it if the first few candidates did this so that the current opening could be filled with a top candidate.

6. I wish candidates could prove what they say. Proof comes in a number of forms:

a. Using an Example-Specifics-Results response whenever providing an example is proof.

b. Projects that demonstrate mastery and accomplishment are proof.

c. Showing publications, patents, and awards are proof.

d. Having letters of commendation and recommendation is proof as well.

e. Reports that provide performance metrics and/or outcomes are also proof.

7. I wish candidates asked for a tour of the facility or an opportunity to observe the workplace. That shows the candidate is not just looking for a job, but the right job.  And it demonstrates an interest in the employer.

8. I wish candidates would follow-up their interview. Employers want to be wanted – they are ready to invest in salary, benefits, training, equipment, and opportunity.  But with no follow-up from someone who could receive all these benefits if hired, why would an employer think the candidate would follow-up on the job?  Don’t leave your interviewer thinking, “I wish she would have asked me what follow-up I would like to see, but they didn’t.”

Bottom line: Review the list of eight qualities and you’ll notice that every single one is within your direct control as a candidate. Possessing a few will put you in the running, but possessing them all will separate you from the pack and give you the best chances of winning the position.

This post was excerpted from the latest edition of my new books, Get a Better Job Faster, on