Personal characteristics such as confidence, leadership and a wide range of outside interests are more likely to help a candidate land a job than academic qualifications, a new UK study suggests, with employers now viewing a degree as "a given".
The study, carried out by the retailer Aldi, quizzed 2,000 business decision-makers about the attributes they look for in job applicants. It found that only a fifth of employers believe that a degree makes a potential candidate stand out, with most saying that qualifications mean less now than they did a decade ago.
Instead, more than half (56 per cent) said they expected staff to have a range of interests outside of work and a good work life balance and nearly a third said they liked to employ well-presented people.
One in twenty like to employ staff that have travelled and see the world while more than half of potential employers said they look for someone that reminds them of themselves with men more likely to look to take on the role of 'mentor' to new employees.
Richard Holloway, Head of Graduate Recruitment at Aldi said: "Strong personalities, work experience, hobbies and leading teams at university are key strengths. Although we look for candidates that can bring something else to the work place, there still needs to be an emphasis on if they can do the job well. We have recruited some fantastic graduates in the past and really look to see what else they can offer aside from education."
Women meanwhile were less likely to hire anyone that had better qualifications than they did or greater experience because they worried they might eventually want their job.
Confidence was the number one attribute that employers looked in new staff just ahead of a positive attitude and experience.
A good work ethic, honesty and energy were also qualities that employers looked for in interviews while two thirds like someone to ask a lot of questions.
More than a quarter said they judged potential staff on whether they were polite to reception, security and cleaning staff and a similar proportion expected them to be respectful during the interview process.
Twelve per cent judge potential staff on their handshake while 30 per cent insist on them having good spelling and punctuation.
Men are more likely to hire someone good looking than women while women place more emphasis on hiring someone who is well spoken.
More than half say their hiring decisions are based on instincts more than anything else and two thirds said they have never regretted hiring someone.