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The View from the Hiring Manager’s Desk

Posted by Pat Tovo

view from the hiring manager's deskSure, interviewing for a job is difficult, but so is hiring.

It wasn’t until I was a hiring manager that I realized how draining interviews can be from the decision-maker side of the table.

Sifting through resumes, setting parameters for screening and shifting my own work around so I would have time for in-person interviews was challenging. When the actual in-person interview was upon me, it was difficult not to just say “Whew. We made it. You’re hired.”

So why didn’t I?

My job depended on my decision.

Most job candidates don’t realize that the decision to hire or not hire a candidate can tremendously impact the hiring manager’s career. Hire too many didn’t-work-out candidates and your boss starts to question your competence. Hire the just-competent-enough candidate and you, the line manager, have to bring up the slack. Hire a superstar with a personality problem and you’ll spend most of your time refereeing squabbles.

I found the hiring manager position difficult, but an upside to my experience is that I know at least some of the concerns, thoughts, and questions that go through the minds of managers with whom I interview.

Consider these likely hiring manager questions and how to address them during your next interview –

  1. Does this candidate really want to work here? As a hiring manager, one of my duties was to recruit staff that would help the company succeed. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? You might be surprised at the number of job candidates I interviewed that didn’t know anything about our company. That told me the candidate was just looking for any job. I ruled them out almost immediately.

Why? First, I wanted an employee who truly wanted to be in the job I offered and contribute. We had very solid business goals and I needed staff that wanted to succeed. The second major reason was that I wanted someone who wanted to stay with the company. Hiring is difficult and expensive. No one wants to hire someone and find out the job is a stepping stone.

What you can do: Take the time to do your homework on the company. You owe it to yourself to make sure that the company is one you want to join. And please, devise some specific questions for the manager that shows insight. If you ask basic questions, the manager will know you haven’t done your homework.

  1. Can I manage this candidate? There are some job candidates who look great on paper but just don’t mesh well with the hiring manager or staff. When you join a department or group, it already has a personality. The hiring manager wants to make sure that a new hire won’t negatively impact that culture. So if you are very laid back and the group is very aggressive, you may not be a good fit. The reverse is, of course, true too.

And then there are other red flags for individual managers. I remember one person who was a little flinty in interviews, but very well qualified. We later found out was rude to the receptionist. We hired her. Guess what? She picked fights about everything from a minor edit on a memo she wrote to the cushion in her chair. Lesson learned.

What you can do: Ask the hiring manager to describe their management style and the team dynamics. Ask for examples of how new employees have integrated effectively into the company, and if there are any examples of individuals who were not successful.

  1. Are you qualified? There are few things worse than hiring someone and then discovering their inflated resume. And it’s no fun for that employee either, who feels as if they’re drowning. So be honest about your qualifications for the position.

Everyone who applies for a job is going to paint favorable backgrounds. That’s expected. But don’t fib about your skill levels or knowledge. Trust me, you can’t learn everything you need to shore up your experience gap in the two weeks between when you’re hired and when you start.

What you can do: Of course you’ll present your skills and knowledge in a positive light. But if you lack a skill or knowledge, don’t fib. Explain your lack of expertise and offer a solution such as “I’ve never worked with that type of software, but I’m more than willing to enroll in an online course and get up to speed. I am a fast learner.”

  1. Are you just interested in the money? I worked for a company that paid above average salaries. I was always on the alert for those candidates who seemed more interested in the salaries and generous benefits than the nitty gritty details of the job. Yes, we paid well. But we paid people who were skilled, educated and committed. I occasionally wondered if candidates were thinking, “I don’t really want this job but I can power through because, wow, maybe I can finally buy a new car.”

What you can do: Research the position you’d fill and come up with a list of why your skills, education and knowledge make you the perfect candidate for the position.  Then explain why you are interested in the job. By the way, why are you? You need to know that before you talk to the hiring manager.

  1. Will this person quit on me? It is terribly disappointing to go through the application and interview process, do background checks and then have the candidate say they don’t want the job when it is offered.

But even worse is when the person works at the job a few weeks or months and then leaves. Again, this makes the hiring manager look bad and adds extra work to the entire team.

What you can do: If you think a job isn’t for you, be candid. Express your concerns. Perhaps it’s something readily fixed. But if it’s not the job for you, be honest with the hiring manager. Thank them for their time and tell them at this time it’s not a move you should make. The manager will be disappointed, but respect your honesty.

Finally, understand that the hiring manager wants you to be the perfect candidate and wants you to succeed once you’re hired. Help the manager see that’s just who you are by communicating as clearly as possible how you solve their problems.

Pat Tovo guides job seekers in conducting successful employment searches through targeted prospecting, effective resume writing, and polished interviewing skills. She enjoys facilitating workshops and working one-on-one in career counseling. 

This entry was posted on Sunday, June 25, 2017 9:40 pm

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