Getting hired: the importance of being likeable

Posted on 12. Mar, 2011 by in Blog, Working Abroad

Last week, I was asked to provide a reference for someone. The reference form I had to fill was very well thought-out. It was obviously designed to elicit useful answers, not just vague statements along the lines of, “I think you should hire this applicant because he’s extremely professional”.

Most importantly, this form included two questions that shed a lot of light on what truly matters to Canadian recruiters:

- Is this person easy to get along with? Do others/coworkers/clients like him/her?
– Is the individual a happy, positive person, one who people like to be around?

I don’t about you, but where I come from, no recruiter would ever ask about this. Such questions would be seen as far too personal, and completely unrelated the applicant’s job performance.

Not so in Canada.

Here, being personable and likeable is part and parcel of being professional.

If you come from a country where technical skills play a much bigger role than personality in being hired, this might require some adjustment on your part.

Spencer Finnley (S is for smile)

Too often, foreign applicants play down their personality during interviews, hoping it’ll make them seem more businesslike and trustworthy. Instead, they end up coming across as shy, awkward, and, well, really boring. Not exactly the kind of “happy, positive person” that “people like to be around”!

So don’t be afraid to let your personality show. It doesn’t matter if you’re the bubbly, congenial type, or if you’re more reserved – no one is asking you to pretend you’re someone you’re not.

But do remember recruiters will expect you to have a positive attitude, and to be easy to get along with.

Have you witnessed firsthand the importance of being personable in your own job search? Do you have any stories or tips to share? Please post them in the comments!

Was this post helpful? Do you need more personalized job search advice? Contact me to schedule a one-on-one consultation.


Image by Spencer Finnley, via Flickr Creative Commons


  1. Interesting. I think in the past I would have felt affronted that they would ask that. But now that I’ve studied communication and community/relationship-building, it strikes me that their interest in a more congenial social structure is perhaps why Canada has far less violence than the U.S.

    Comment by Emma McCreary — July 11, 2011 @ 1:40 am

  2. Hi Emma, thanks for stopping by!

    I know what you mean – I did a double take myself when I first read these questions. But they’re a good reflection of the Canadian preference for harmony and consensus, which is prevalent not only in the workplace, but also between friends, in relationships, etc.

    It takes a little getting used to, especially when you come from a culture that enjoys a good debate… but it sure makes for much lower aggression levels, and it contributes to the laid-back, safe vibe most people love about Vancouver.

    Comment by Emmanuelle Archer — July 12, 2011 @ 6:45 pm

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