Gravitas... What is it? Do you have it? How to demonstrate it at interview

26 January 2017

When describing their ideal candidate, the most frequent adjective I get asked for in my candidates is “gravitas,” but what does that really mean and how do you portray it at interview?

The dictionary definition of gravitas surprised me.  According to the Oxford Dictionary it’s “Dignity, seriousness, or solemnity of manner.”  I’m not sure that this is the right term. I’m confident that my clients don’t want a solemn, serious face brought in to inspire their business or drive growth. I’m not being contrite, I know what they mean and what they want, but what does gravitas really mean in the context of appointing a business leader?  

I asked some respected colleagues about what gravitas meant to them: 

“A deep routed confidence without arrogance.  The ability to challenge without being unnecessarily adversarial.”

“Strong opinions, seriously held, based on solid experience”  

“Weight and authority” “Maturity” “Considered, intellectual thinking” 

It seems to me that someone with gravitas is an individual with a respected view that others want to hear. They walk into a room and instantly engage without being overbearing, they cultivate respect from others which allows them to influence, challenge and ultimately lead.  

So, how do you demonstrate gravitas in that first interview...

Read Amy Parkinson's full article on HR Grapevine


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