5 Insights into a Hiring Manager's Mind During an Interview

April 10, 2018

Inside the mind of a hiring manager is a desirable place to be—if you're a job seeker.  Specifically, job seekers want to know what goes on inside the mind of a recruiter before, during, and after an interview. And so, here—based on decades of search-firm recruiting, corporate recruiting, and human resources consulting experience—is what hiring managers are thinking.

1. Hiring managers will be bored if you regurgitate common knowledge about their firms.

Hiring managers already know how many employees they have and the global locations they have, so don’t let that be the extent of your pre-interview research and what you talk about when asked what you know about the company. What hiring managers want to see is what you did beyond the basic internet search. And, more important, they want to see how you apply the information you found to determine how you can add value as their next employee. 

2. Hiring managers will judge you poorly if you're late.

It may seem obvious, but it is still worth of emphasizing: Don’t be late for an interview. If you are, hiring managers will be thinking of nothing but as they interview you. And for audio interviews, don’t sound like you just woke up or are doing something else while chatting. If you don’t impress, you will not make it to the next interview round. What you should do, instead, is be on time and be prepared. Arriving on time shows that you planned ahead and knew what you would have to do to get to the office on time. For virtual interviews, have your remote interview set-up working well beforehand.

3. Hiring managers will be invisibly rolling their eyes if you're overconfident.

Being confident is good, but being overconfident can hurt you. Don’t come across as an executive diva (or divo) that has to be chased. Hiring managers are looking for mutual respect. Also, when asked about challenges, don’t subtly deflect blame to others. Are you typically a part of the problem or the solution at your prior employer? Most companies don’t want to hire the next thorn in their side, so be sure you don’t look like a thorn. And so,show humility and maturity. Speak frankly and objectively of a failure you’ve had and demonstrate what was learned from the experience. Showing your humanity indicates that you're capable of telling the truth when mistakes happen on the job—because mistakes will happen on the job. Humility goes a long way in today’s pigeon-chested pumped-up world. 

4. Hiring managers will be watching how you deal with the rest of their team. 

Candidates can sometimes treat the HR department, reception, or other departments with ‘not as much importance’ as the interview with the hiring manager of the department where they want to work. Don’t do this. This is a big mistake and can greatly harm your chances of advancing. Respect everyone you come in contact with to increase your chances of moving on to the next stages. Getting input from non-direct departments (for example, meeting with a marketing employee when interviewing for a finance role) is a common practice these days, as companies want 360-degree feedback on potential hires. This is particularly important in IT and finance where interacting well with non-IT and non-finance departments is a valued skill. And so, always be kind to reception and security staff. Hiring managers are watching.

5. Hiring managers will be judging your post-interview bevavior as well.

Sending general or impersonal follow-up correspondence will quickly hurt your chances, especially when all other things are equal. And deciding not to follow up at all? Forget about it! Don't assume that you're a shoe-in or the perfect fit and neglect to follow up appropriately. Politely persistent follow-up post interview wins the game (and the job). The follow-up letters do not need to be long. Reference a point discussed during the interview, demonstrate how you can fix a particular problem that was mentioned, and reiterate your desire to work with the organization in a specific manner. Following up in a personal manner can give you the competitive edge over someone else.

A previous version of this post appeared on chamelonresumes.com.

by Lisa Rangel

© 2018 Vault.com Inc.

sculpture in front of the Thompson Center
  • “Chicago Legal Search filled 2 in-house counsel positions for us. We received prompt and professional service from CLS associates and very qualified candidates were always presented. CLS always makes sure the candidates are prepared for the interview, and know the culture of our company, and desire to live in a rural area before coming in. I anticipate future openings within the legal department as we are a growing company and I would not hesitate to contact CLS first.”

    Heidi T. Mitchell, Director, Human Resources

    Zimmer, Inc.