The answer to this is pretty straightforward in many cases:
  • First impressions.
  • Body language.
  • How you perform in the interview.
  • How you compare to the competition.
  • Will you be a good cultural fit?
  • The strength of your questions, depth of research undertaken.
  • Experience, education.
  • References.
  • Your attitude, energy, and enthusiasm.
Humans can be judgemental and can often use unexpected criteria.
There is a famous story about Walt Disney, who used to bring a prospective employee out to lunch. If the person put salt or pepper on their meal before tasting it, that was enough to rule them out. To him, that was an indication that the person is closed-minded.
A trusted colleague/friend recently told me that he used to go to the parking lot and look at the interviewees’ car to see if it was organized, relatively clean inside/outside. The age/make of the car didn’t factor; however, whether or not the person took care of it did.
As an interviewer, I ask about the latest book the person has read or one that made a great impression. If the person doesn’t give a good answer to that question, that won’t sit well.
You may not agree with these criteria, but it matters to some people.
Care and attention are important. If I were to pick one item from the first list, it would be attitude, energy, and enthusiasm.