A new survey of over 2,000 hiring managers has turned up some unexpected factors that can determine which candidates get hired most often. It’s not all about your skills and experiences.

While, of course, your qualifications to actually do the job are essential for being hired, it turns out that many employers also look at numerous other, less practical attributes when selecting a candidate. Having a good sense of humour can give a candidate a 27% better chance of being hired. Being better dressed than the other candidates boosts your odds of landing the gig by 22%.

For this survey employers were asked, if they were considering two candidates with the same credentials, which factors would influence them to choose one candidate over the other.

Here’s what they said:

  • The candidate with the better sense of humor – 27%
  • The candidate who is involved in his or her community – 26%
  • The candidate who is better dressed – 22%
  • The candidate who the interviewer has more in common with – 21%
  • The candidate who is more physically fit – 13%
  • A candidate who can discuss current affairs and pop culture trends – 8%
  • A candidate who is more connected in social media – 7%
  • A candidate who knows about sports – 4%


The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive in May and June of 2013 included 2,076 hiring managers and human resource professionals from across industries.

Of course, another recent survey indicates that it could all come down to your shoes. This study conducted on behalf of Allen Edmonds (admittedly, a shoemaker) shows that hiring managers are taking a look at candidate’s shoes, and particularly in the case of younger males, they aren’t impressed with what they see.

For this study, more than 1,000 professional men and women were surveyed this spring. While 80% of hiring managers indicated that a candidate’s shoes are “extremely important”, they find that only 51% of young male candidates wear appropriate shoes to a job interview.

Similarly, only 44% of male executives and 54% of female executives think that young men are wearing appropriate footwear to formal business meetings. Managers explained that shoes are indicators of more than just fashion sense, but that they speak to a candidate’s attention to detail, confidence and cultural fit. All of which are essential to getting hired. (We’ve said it before, you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes.)

What both of these studies have in common is the reminder to candidates that while your resume will land you a job interview, it’s the interview that gets you the job. And at the job interview, employers are assessing more than your credentials. They’re selecting a person who will become a part of their team’s daily lives, so details about personality and fit really matter.

Peter Harris

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