Recruiters Share the Number 1 Aspect They're Looking For in Candidates They're Hiring

Job candidates come in all shapes and sizes, and most recruiters aren't looking to hire cookie-cutter employees. However, there are certain standout qualities that seem to be universally preferred. Lucky for you, several prominent recruiters in the D.C. area have revealed the top assets they are looking for in job candidates.


No one wants to be lied to. And while more than a few job seekers have been known to pad their resumes or exaggerate realities during an interview, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. In fact, most recruiters can see right through these deceptions. Senior recruiter at Credence Management Solutions (CMS), Geoffrey Cox, clarifies, “Honesty, is very important. We [recruiters] ask very specific questions and require very honest answers about candidates’ backgrounds.” You’re not going to impress anyone by digging yourself into a hole you can’t get out of as the questions become deeper. 

A Team Player

One of the biggest mistakes candidates make when applying for a job is making it all about them. When an interviewer asks you why you want the job, your answer needs to reflect what you can do for the company more than what the company can do for you. Brent A. Sullivan, president of the D.C. recruiting firm Time On The Hill, Inc. reveals, "When I’m looking at candidates, I’m asking, 'Are these candidates focusing on the needs of the team, or their own personal goals? Does this candidate have a team-based mentality?'" Your interviewer wants to know that if you're hired, you're going to put collective needs ahead of individual needs—not the other way around.

Recruiters sharing


Consistency is a valuable quality in a candidate, because recruiters want to feel assured the person they're interviewing is the same person they'll see in the workplace. Painting yourself as someone other than who you are during the hiring process is not going to end well. Paige Marie Benedict, a corporate recruiter for retail branding firm Amify explains, “I am always looking for candidates who represent themselves well. And by that, I mean they have their own brand—one that is consistent and true to who they are as a professional. This all starts with the first impression of their resume and holds consistency through to LinkedIn—and other social media sites—to their interview.” Naturally, after you are hired, your ability to be consistent will continue to be a vital part of your success. 


Flexibility may seem like the opposite of consistency, but it really isn’t. You can maintain your own brand while being able to think on your feet. CMS recruiter Geoffrey Cox points out: “As recruiters, we sometimes have to ask candidates to update resumes and do things in a short period of time because of our deadlines. It is way more helpful when we get full cooperation.” So be ready to go left when you planned on going right at a moment’s notice. Recruiters like that.


If you’re not excited about getting hired, no one is going to be eager to hire you. That's why Time On The Hill’s Brent Sullivan believes determination and enthusiasm are more important than intelligence, “A staffer with a 4.0 GPA from Penn State who wants to debate the Chief of Staff all day is useless. Hiring managers are looking for aggressive listeners and staffers who will take action. Knowledge applied to a plan of action is exponentially more powerful than knowledge alone.”

Amify’s Paige Benedict agrees, noting, “This is especially important for recent graduates to take note of—employers and recruiters want to know that you take yourself and your job search very seriously. A candidate should be engaged from the second they apply for a position. For example, researching the company pre-interview ensures they are prepared and well informed. A candidate may be a 10 out of 10 on paper, but if they are not prepped or engaged in that initial call, that is a huge red flag.” And of course, too many red flags mean you’ll soon be waving a white flag of surrender.

Take it from the experts, we live in a competitive world, and you don’t want to make a bad—or even a mediocre impression, or it’s likely game over. So take the advice of these seasoned recruiters and exhibit honesty, flexibility, determination, and enthusiasm. You have the inside info; now all you have to do is put it to good use. 

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