5 Simple Things That Hiring Managers Want to Find Out About Candidates During an Interview

by General, Job Seeker

We hear this all the time: Hiring Managers (HM’s) aren’t always candid or direct about what (and why) they need to see certain things from candidates before they’ll make them a job offer. From our discussions with countless HM’s over the years, these five key areas seem to be the most important to them. They consistently form the foundation of what most HM’s want to know about you. Proactively addressing these 5 simple things during an interview will help you win the job.

Can you do the job?

Yes, it’s that simple and that basic. A HM needs to walk away from your interaction together feeling confident that you can do the job. So, you will need to demonstrate with great clarity the instances in your past when you have delivered in a fashion that mirrors what you would be asked to do in the role you are seeking to be placed in. Or, if you don’t have any of the specific experience needed, then you need to demonstrate to the HM what steps you will take to get there in a very short time. What training will you need? What intangibles (like work ethic and grit) do you bring to the role that will allow you to close the training gap quickly and make a difference on the job right away? Be prepared to address this as quickly as possible when the interview begins. Remember that HM’s are looking for good communicators, quick learners and technically savvy people.

Will you do the job?

Now that you have established that you have the talent and ability to get the job done, a HM will also want to know if you’ll decide to actually do the job after you hired. This one confuses a lot of candidates because they feel that if they can convince a HM they can do the job then the assumption is made that they always will. Wrong. A seasoned manager knows all too well that after the shine of a new job fades away, many employees become complacent and lose focus. These types of employees can be devastating to a business because high talent/low energy employees take longer to move out of an organization and often cause a team to be very mediocre. Remember that a good HM knows that to a degree, desire is more important than talent. You can teach talent but it’s much harder to coach someone to bring their A game to work every day. If hired, will you be an A player for the duration of your time with the company? Ask the hiring manager during the interview what a successful candidate looks like and determine if you can check most (if not all) of those boxes.

How much of my time will you need from me?

These days, leaders are busy. REALLY busy. Regardless of time constraints, a good leader will take the time needed to onboard and support his/her employees. But most HM’s are all too conscious that they have lots of things pulling at them every day so they can ill afford to hire someone who needs to have their hand held every step of that way. They need members of their team, once they are trained up, coached up and fully empowered, to take the lead on the daily tasks needed to get the job done. You’ll need to be sure to let a HM know during the interview of specific instances in your career where you took the ball and ran with it. You’ll certainly want to make sure you will get the ongoing support you need to succeed at your new job but you’ll also need to instill confidence in the HM that you can work independently too. During the interview, think about asking how the HM prefers to manage his/her team and see if that creates an environment where you can shine.

Will you get along with others?

The term “good cultural fit” is simply another way of saying “will we have any drama if we hire you”. Will you fit in and work smoothly with your new boss and your new co-workers? That’s top of mine for HM’s. A disruptive employee can be toxic to a company and a team. The best leaders know how crucial it is to have strong relationships with their employees and they will work hard to strengthen those bonds. During the interview a HM will want to know how coachable you are and how well the both of you will connect on the job. Be sure to offer clear examples of the strong working relationships you have had with prior leaders and mentors. Be sure to demonstrate to them how you’ll fit in on the team and don’t hesitate to find out how well your new leader will engage you as well. After all, “getting along” is a two-way street.

If I hire you, will you make me look bad?

Nothing stalls a manager’s career growth more than making a series of bad hires. Not only is a bad hire disruptive to the business but it makes others on the company question a HM’s decision-making ability and their ability to assess talent. We frequently hear our clients lament about the absurd number of interviews required before they’re offer the job. That number has increased dramatically over the last decade and much of that trend stems from the fear that HM’s have of making a mistake. They know the stakes are high when it comes to hiring. They simply can’t get it wrong. Yes, it probably is better for a HM to ask themselves if you’ll make the team a success but trust us when we say that a lot of HM’s are more worried that you’ll damage their professional reputations.

So, do what can you do to make a HM feel confident that you’re the one they should bring into the company? Do your research on the team and the role, ask good questions, provide specific instances where you’ve had success in the past and how it could transfer to a new job. Demonstrate that you are reliable, trustworthy, and collegial. Let the HM know directly that you view part of your role as one where you take things off your manager’s plate. In short, make sure they feel good about the value you can add to them and to the company. Reduce any anxiety that they may be feeling, and you’ll be the candidate they select for the job.

We have found through countless interviews with candidates, that if you can successfully navigate through these five simple things, your odds of winning the job go up exponentially. The interview process can seem so daunting that sometimes candidates forget that HM’s have basic needs & doubts.

Without addressing these first, a candidate may not be able to win the job. So put yourself in the seat of the person interviewing you and be sure to understand their needs and insecurities. Your ability to win will be directly tied to your ability to address those needs and lessen their fears. Make them feel confident that you can bring great value to their company!

If we can assist you with any aspect of your career, contact us and let us know how we can help.

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