What Hiring Managers Are Looking For These Days

I was on a webinar today with a hiring manager who kindly divulged a numerous amount of information at us career coaches, recruiters and fellow HR administration on what the Hiring Managers of the world are currently looking for when selecting candidates after an interview for a position with the company. In tidbits, and summarizes to bytes so I can keep up with the conference call, here is what I took away from the meeting:

1. The Interview is a two-way interaction, not an interrogation. Make sure you also ask questions and gather information about the job, manager and company culture, so you can make sure you are a mutual match and that that particular job offer is the right offer.

2. Learn about the company and prepare before the interview by looking at the employer’s website and finding out about what the employer does, what they are about, how they are different from the competition, the clients and the company’s overall general approach.

3. Setup a system to keep job descriptions for various openings because employers will erase them from the internet. Then, go through the job description line by line and see how you match up. Figure out the ways you are a match and turn those into answers during the interview. Don’t focus on the items you don’t match up with.

4. Write out some of your answers to some of the questions you think the employer will address based off the information you’ve gathered during your above research.

5. Sample questions from them – why did you leave the last job, what interests you about this job, strengths and weaknesses, salary, what’s your experience working on ___ (fill in the blank with all the major responsibilities off the job description), and finally a few of your own questions.

6. Sample questions from you – What are the biggest challenges or obstacles the person in this position will face, describe a typical day, what would a successful first year person in this position look like, how will success in this position be measured, how would you describe the culture here, how would you describe your management style, and thinking back to people who have been in this position previously, what differentiated the ones who were good from the ones who were really great? Finally always ask what the next steps are and timeline!

7. Employers pay attention to small details like emails, phone manners, how you treat the assistant, responsiveness and follow-through. Stick to reasonable turnaround times.

8. Being likable matters!  Show your personality, be genuinely interested and utilize a tone of voice during phone interviews that is pleasant, upbeat, interested and engaged!

9. Piggybacking off the above topic, make sure you are excited and show your enthusiasm about the job. Don’t worry about showing desperacy! If it’s genuine, it will show!

10. Send a follow-up thank you note! They will remember those kind salutations.

11. If they think you’re overqualified, they will be worried that you will be bored, the salary would be too small, or you would take anything right now so you will be leaving once something better comes up. Think of ways to respond to these objections. An example would be, “At this stage in my career, a job is more important to me than salary and I would be willing to adjust.” So know why the hiring manager would be concerned and speak directly to that concern.

12. If you make a mistake during the interview process, the key is to acknowledge the mistake, explain that it’s out of character and use the magic words, “I’m mortified!”

13. Some quick deal breakers are that the candidate has no grasp of what the job is about, not asking questions, badmouthing a former boss, or using cliche weaknesses (“I work too hard” or “I always take work home with me”). State a real weakness and followup with how you’re taking care of it. “I used to have an issue of being unorganized and now I’ve adapted a new model of using post-it notes and sticking to a calendar religiously to better correct this issue.”

14. They called you in the interview because they think you’re qualified enough to be hired. Thus, they want to hire you! They’ve never seen a “perfect” candidate, trust me!

15. Some final tips for the interview: Visualize the interview in your head (from walking in through the “salary” question). Try to do some morning interviews (don’t let it hang over you all day). Ask who you’ll be meeting with (don’t be blindsided in case they want to do a panel interview or multiple interviews during the day).

16. Advice on rejections: ask for feedback on what you could’ve done to be a better candidate…some managers will actually get back to you. (“I appreciate time speaking with me and I hope you keep me in mind if something is a good fit going forward. I was wondering if you are willing to give me some advice to use in the future and on future interviews?” Do this in an email, not over the phone. This also builds credibility with the hiring manager. If some good news happens with their company, send over a congratulations to that hiring manager. Keep a rapport. They might think of you if something else opens up, possibly even in other departments!

17. Rejections: sometimes it’s about the math. More favorable candidates that you are equally as good as. Secondly, the boss or culture might be unrelated to your qualifications and it just would not have been a fit regardless if your skills match up. Finally, hiring is not an exact science. It’s far from a perfect process and hiring managers are using this limited information to make key hiring decisions.

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