Here’s what’s more important than intelligence in a job interview

June 9, 2015, 6:00 PM UTC
Businesswoman being interviewed
Photograph by Getty Images/amana images RF

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for:What are three things you look for in a resume? is written by Angela Dorn, chief legal officer at Single Stop USA.

As the chief legal officer at Single Stop I’m typically not involved in the hiring decisions at our organization–except at the most senior level–but I do talk to our human resources department about what we should be looking for in candidates, and what it takes to succeed at Single Stop. We care about many things, including but not limited to core qualifications, leadership qualities, hiring people with diverse backgrounds, and personal integrity. The following resume tips may not be enough to land you the job, but they can certainly get you an interview:

Commitment to our work
The first thing we look for is proof that the candidate is dedicated to our work, and not just looking for a job. Single Stop is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating poverty. Does the resume highlight the candidates genuine interest in our mission through previous experiences? Perhaps you currently work for an organization like ours, serve on a board that is dedicated to helping others, or volunteer for a similar cause. Employees at Single Stop work under high stress conditions, with limited resources to help those in need. It ‘s not easy to work under such conditions; therefore, you must be dedicated.

Show your grit
Every employee, at one point or another, will inevitably encounter a challenging situation on the job. Regardless of what the conflict was, I want to see that you’re capable of handling high stress situations and how you resolve them. This type of grit and “can do” attitude can be shown in many ways on a resume: a former peace core volunteer, a student who worked during school, or someone who had the guts to successfully change careers.

Intelligence and common sense
I want to see both of these qualities, but for different reasons: a qualified person with intelligence can generally get the technical components of a job done. A person with common sense can handle the nuances of a job, and be an extraordinary performer. I don’t measure intelligence solely by the school that the candidate attended; instead I look for it in the description of their academic experience and in their achievements. And, as noted, intelligence alone is not enough–common sense is as important, if not more important than a person’s level of intelligence. Common sense is evident in a resume by how a candidate presents themselves on paper. Is their resume free of errors? Is it a reasonable number of pages given their experience? Was the resume accompanied by a well-crafted cover letter? All of these items are signs of common sense, which is a key job requirement for anyone I hire.

Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: What are three things you look for in a resume?

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