There is a lot of advice about how to interview out there. But the people we should really be asking for advice about the interview process are the people who conduct those interviews—the hiring managers.
Here are the 10 things hiring managers wish you knew. Make their jobs easy, and you just might get the job.
1. Be early, but not too early
Whatever you do, do not be late. That said, if you show up 30-45 minutes early, you could really distract or annoy the hiring manager, who might have better things to do and not want to interview you on the fly. If you end up at the office with this much time to spare, grab a coffee or do some last minute prep on your own before going in. Aim to be 10-15 minutes early. Most hiring managers agree that is the sweet spot.
2. Don’t apply unqualified
If you don’t meet 85% or more of what the job description says they’re looking for, don’t bother interviewing. The hiring manager will just feel like you are wasting his time. Make sure you meet the minimum requirements (and that you go a few steps beyond as well) before going in for an interview. You don’t have to be perfect or overqualified, just not obviously underqualified.
3. Do your homework
Too many applicants head into the interview room without doing research into the company, their potential manager, or their role in the industry at large. Don’t fall victim to this laziness.
Do your homework! Look up specifics! Familiarize yourself with the company’s workings, their numbers, and their day-to-day operations. This will impress the interviewer and give you plenty of topics about which to converse. Don’t go in the room until you feel comfortable reciting in one sentence what the company does and why. Internalize the narrative and tailor your answers to emphasize how well you understand what they are looking for.
4. Treat it like a first date
Interviews can be a bit like speed dating, and that’s okay. It’s your chance to see whether the company would be a good fit for you, and their chance to see whether you’d be a good fit for their culture. Chances are, if you got the interview, you’re already a technical fit given your qualifications and experience. You’re in the room to get to know each other. Treat it like a date; don’t talk too much about yourself. Ask questions. Listen. Be respectful, but also make sure to show off your best traits.
5. Bring questions
Part of doing your homework is coming armed with questions. You will be asked. Make sure you don’t get caught without a good one. Think of what you’re curious about that you weren’t able to find online or on the company’s website. When in doubt, ask about some of the specifics for the position you’d be filling, or potential growth opportunities within the company.
6. Lead with your software skills
Before you even show up for the interview, you need to convince the hiring manager that you have the skills necessary to be qualified in the first place. If you don’t already have a list of all the software programs in which you are proficient, put that in immediately. If they see that you’re a rockstar with the one program they use most, you’re almost guaranteed to get an interview.
7. Don’t lie
If you lie, either on your resume or during the interview, you will almost certainly get caught. Resumes and references are checked. Fluffing yourself up a little is a human tendency; a little spin on your accomplishments in one position might be justified. Just don’t bend the actual truth. And be prepared to prove yourself.
8. Say thank you
There is no excuse for not sending an immediate, handwritten thank you note. Or at very least, a thank you email.
9. Be patient
Nothing is likely to get you bumped out of the running more than constantly badgering the hiring manager about when the decision will be made. Ask for a timeframe for decision-making when you’re in the room, then don’t make a peep until a day or two beyond that. A short, respectful follow-up email will do. And if you don’t hear back? You didn’t get the job.
10. Know that hiring managers are people too
Put yourself in your hiring manager’s shoes for a second. They see dozens of people. It’s your job to make their job easier, and to make yourself memorable. It’s also your job to ask the questions you need answered; don’t just assume this information will be handed to you.
Imagine meeting with a person who has been looking at three hundred similar resumes for the same position. Try to dazzle them. They’ll thank you for it, even if you don’t get this particular job. And it’s a great skill to learn for next time.
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