CandidateI’ll admit that I’m as big a sucker for click-bait headlines as anyone, but this one I saw recently actually made me think I might be getting something  meaningful.

This is the one that grabbed me:

Here’s the 1 Trait Hiring Managers Seek Most

OK, I’ll bite. Just what IS the one trait that hiring managers really are looking for?

Would you believe that it’s … “being interesting?”

I didn’t think so.

These are some real qualities that recruiters look for

In my long experience hiring people, “being interesting” is certainly an important quality that you like when looking at candidates, but I can think of a great many other qualities that are a lot more critical for job success, such as:

  • Skills;
  • Experience;
  • Job fit;
  • Cultural fit;
  • Persistence;
  • Perseverance;
  • Ability to learn and grow;
  • Ability to quickly adapt;
  • Ability to work well with others; and,
  • Another 20 other things you could probably list here.

So where does the notion that “being interesting” is THE critical trait for a hiring manager come from?

It comes from an article in US News and World Report,  and it says that, 

According to data provided by the reading subscription service Scribd, 76 percent of hiring managers believe that “being interesting” is the most crucial quality they look for when interviewing to fill a new position.”

Reading that made me want to know more, particularly because I have never, ever seen or heard anything that ever made the case that “being interesting” is the most crucial quality hiring managers want. It just doesn’t ring true.

I wish the actual data supporting this claim showed me how wrong I was, but as you might have guessed, it doesn’t.

Provocative click-bait, and “fake news” too

When you click on the link in the US News and World Report article, it takes you to this blog post on the Scribd Literally website titled Could Being Boring Cost You Your Job? This is a provocative click-bait headline too, and just like the US News article written from the post, it has very little information.

However, what information it does have doesn’t say that “76 percent of hiring managers believe that “being interesting” is the most crucial quality they look for when interviewing to fill a new position.”

This is what it DOES say:

In a recent survey, we found that 76 percent of hiring managers believe that being interesting is an important component of hiring decisions, with 22 percent believing that being interesting is very important.”

Well, having 76 percent of recruiters saying that “being interesting is an important component of hiring decisions” is very different from 76 percent of  them believing that being interesting is “the most important quality they look for.”

Clearly, the US News article grossly misrepresented what the Scribd Literally article said, and what recruiters feel is most important in a job candidate, all for the love of click-bait.

Yes, this is what they call “fake news.”

Plus, with any reputable survey there should be what I call “boiler plate” information telling you how the survey was conducted, when it was conducted, what kind of people were surveyed (where they work or what their occupation is), how many people responded, and what the margin of error is.

The Scribd Literally post on Could Being Boring Cost You Your Job? has none of that as far as I could find.

In other words, this notion that “76 percent of hiring managers believe that “being interesting” is the most crucial quality they look for when interviewing to fill a new position” is nothing but a load of crap.

The lesson here is to take all the surveys the media loves to write about with a grain of salt because a great many of them are based on BS. You also should remember that ANY survey that doesn’t give you the basics on how the survey or poll was conducted simply isn’t credible.

The real important quality recruiters should look for

But all of this got me thinking: What is it that hiring managers, recruiters, and talent acquisition professionals REALLY look for when hiring someone?

Well, according to Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant:…rant/dp/0470457643/ref=sr_1_1 to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job, it’s this — trustworthiness.

Here’s what Lynn told Business Insider about this back in 2015:

She says most interviewers covet traits like competence, confidence, and creativity. But the “overriding super trait that it supersedes all others in countless studies,” she explains, “is trustworthiness.”

“It’s an amalgamation of many other desirable attributes,” she says.

She says if a hiring manager felt you lacked one or two critical skills — but found you to be 100 percent trustworthy, they’d likely consider moving forward. “However, if you possessed 100 percent of the requisite business skills, but seemed just a tad bit untrustworthy, they probably wouldn’t make you an offer,” she adds.

In business, as in life, trustworthiness the foundation of any sustainable, healthy relationship — and it’s of utmost importance to employers.”

She goes on to list just how an interviewer or hiring manager can evaluate trustworthiness in a job candidate, and you can go find out more about that here.

Who do YOU believe?

Now, Lynn Taylor isn’t touting a survey to back up her notion that trustworthiness is the most important quality to look for in a candidate, just decades working in and studying how to build an empowered workforce, including a dozen years at Robert Half International.

It makes you wonder — who do you believe? A screwy survey without any supporting evidence that gets touted in an even screwier blog post that’s the poster child for “fake news,” or, a longstanding workforce expert who has many credible insights into what important quality recruiters really should be looking for in job candidates?

You know the answer to that one.

John Hollon

John Hollon is managing editor at Fuel50, an AI Opportunity Marketplace solution that delivers internal talent mobility and workforce reskilling. You can download the research reports in their Global Talent Mobility Best Practice Research series at Fuel50.