Author of "Your Journey from Fired to Hired"
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What Hiring Managers REALLY Look for during Job Interviews

So you’ve finally received an interview request…who hoo!  You’ve made it through the mass chaos of applicants and now have the opportunity to sell yourself in person.

Chances are you’re convinced this is your “dream job” and you may even believe you are the best candidate.  Now if you only knew exactly what the interviewer was looking for you could close the deal and sign the employment offer!  Wouldn't that be nice!?!

While realistically I don't have a crystal ball and can't tell you the magic words (especially without knowing your specifics!), there are certainly a few basics that should help you rise above the crowd.  And they might just surprise you.  You see, strong hiring managers don't necessarily hire candidates based on the potential for short-term results.  Instead, they look for big picture things like core values, communication skills and personality traits to help identify candidates who will provide long-term value.

  1. Fire in the Belly! In case you haven’t heard, it’s an employers’ market.  That means there are lots of qualified candidates vying for “your” dream job!  Needless to say, in times like these the little things become big things.  And the ability to demonstrate passion for a particular company or position is huge.  You see, hiring managers can teach the finite skills for success, but it’s much tougher for them to change core values like engagement, work ethic and personal fulfillment.  Ultimately, they realize that employees without passion leave at the end of the day compared to the passionate individual that demands excellence until the job is done.  And if you’re not sure what your dream job is, don’t worry…you’ve got lots of company!  But check out, “5 Tips to Find a Job You LOVE” for some help.
  1. I Got This! At the risk of climbing back up on my soapbox, todays hiring managers are busy…very busy!  And the thought of having an employee that requires constant stroking, encouragement and approval of every small detail equals a nightmare to them.  Consequently, confidence is supremely important.  Now keep in mind, confidence doesn’t necessarily have to be expressed verbally.  The way you dress, eye contact, examples you may share in an interview and posture all have the ability to communicate confidence (or lack thereof!) so prepare, prepare, prepare!
  1. Mind if I ask a Question? It shouldn’t be a surprise that you need to include questions in your interview prep.  Hiring managers are looking for candidates that can provide value to their team.  Asking well-founded (and placed!) questions is a great sign of intellect, maturity, curiosity and confidence…all attributes employers look for!  If you want to learn more on this topic, check out “13 Interview Questions to Score a Home Run!”
  1. Appetite for Learning. Experienced managers care less about the experience you bring with you and more about your appetite for learning.  You see, they understand that sometimes it’s better (and easier!) to teach an employee with less experience what they want than fight someone whose extensive history causes them to resist change.  So, never apologize for your lack of experience.  Instead, be armed with real-world examples showing your desire and ability to learn new skill sets.
  1. Put me on the Team Coach! In today’s competitive business environment, managers are constantly asked to do more work with less.  Enter the rise in importance of the proverbial team player.  Managers today simply don’t have the time (or energy!) to deal with the trivial bickering and productivity loss that superstars can cause.  Consequently, it’s more important than ever to provide examples that showcase your ability to excel in team environments.
  1. Humble Pie Please. No one likes to work with the guy that never makes a mistake and always wants to be center stage.  So, while exhibiting confidence is important (see number 2 above), it’s much better to let others sing your praises to the masses.  Skip comments like, “if they want it done right they come to me.”  And instead share something like, "I take pride in my work and seem to routinely be given challenging assignments."  Hiring managers will appreciate the subtlety…in part because they can figure out the innuendo on their own but also because it tells them that co-workers will appreciate your humbleness and ability to consistently produce results.
  1. Pro What? While the word professional can feel pretty ambiguous, it’s a key factor in hiring decisions.  You see to a manager, hiring a professional means less turmoil, less mistakes and less of their time to fix problems caused by poor communication.  So while it may feel a little fuzzy to you, make no doubt about it…professionalism will rank high in the decision chain.  If you’re interested in learning more about what professionalism is and isn’t, check this out. 

Successful hiring managers know what type of candidate has the potential to integrate seamlessly into their team and provide optimal results.  And while they may tweak these criteria a little, you should feel pretty comfortable if you can demonstrate passion; confidence; intelligence; the ability to learn quickly; teamwork; humility and professionalism that you stand a good chance for at least a second interview.  And yes…then you get to do all this fun again!

Ok hiring managers…what characteristic do you look for when hiring new employees that I missed?

Article written by:

Kathi Miller-Miller is a sought after career specialist and author of “Your Journey from Fired to Hired.” Kathi draws on her 25+ years of success (and failures!) to offer her readers advice on topics ranging from dealing with a boss that drives you crazy to managing millennials...all in a light-hearted and easy to read style.

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