By Robin Madell
U S News, June 11, 2019.
By managing up during the interview process, you can impress hiring managers and improve your chances.
The job search process can be stressful for candidates, but hiring managers have their share of challenges as well. Their companies are likely short-staffed if they’ve lost a team member, and preparing to onboard and train a new employee adds hours a day to managers’ already busy workloads. Keep this reality in mind as you jump through the hoops of the interview process. Make life easier for the hiring team by avoiding key mistakes that trip up many applicants and homing in on what matters to your potential future boss. Read on to learn exactly what hiring managers wished you knew.
Avoid common interview mistakes with these hiring manager secrets.
Things hiring managers wish you knew include:
- The details make a difference.
- We look for red flags.
- Asking the right questions shows you know our companies.
- Don’t negotiate during a phone screening call.
- We really do check references.
- We research your social media accounts.
- Arriving late for a job interview can disqualify you.
The details make a difference.
From your first contact with an employer to the thank-you note that you send after your interview, everything matters. Don’t think that if your resume is perfect, you can let your guard down on the subsequent steps. Even communications with an employer that seem “less formal” to you – such as email messages to confirm logistics – should be treated as part of your official application. Typos and other careless mistakes can cause you to miss an opportunity, no matter how minor they may seem to you.
We look for red flags.
Hiring managers and recruiters are alert for telltale clues that may tip them off to a problematic candidate. Each manager has his or her own list of pet peeves, but you’d be wise to avoid some of the most obvious ones. These include arriving or calling in (even slightly) late for an interview, treating any part of the job search process too casually (such as failing to turn off your cell phone during your interview) and being unprepared to talk convincingly about why you want to work there and what you can offer the company.
Asking the right questions shows that you know us.
Some job candidates rely on their reflexes during job interviews. While it’s helpful to anticipate curveballs, you should also prepare smart questions to address the inevitable final inquiry of the interview: “Do you have any questions for us?” Don’t wing this one – the key here is to do your homework in advance and figure out relevant areas to probe. Use the job description and company website to determine what matters to the employer and design your questions for the hiring team around those areas.
The time for negotiating isn’t during the phone screen.
If you’re looking for a job, then earning a good salary is no doubt part of the reason you want to work – but be careful. While you may be eager to learn the position’s salary level to know if proceeding with the process is worth your while, asking about salary prematurely can keep you from moving to the next round. The initial phone screen and even the first in-person meeting are generally too soon to broach the topic of pay and benefits. Wait until you have an offer in hand to probe details on salary and start negotiating.
We really do check references – and sometimes those you don’t give us.
The reference check is a stressful part of the job search for many candidates, particularly if they aren’t sure what kind of review their references will give. Do your best to identify reliable references who have been unequivocally happy with your work so that you can feel more confident about what’s being said about you. A caveat: Even if you provide a list of stellar references on your application, employers may take the initiative to dig deeper and contact former bosses and colleagues who you didn’t include in your lineup.
We research your social media accounts first.
You’ve heard it before, and it’s true: Employers and recruiters routinely use social media sites to get an idea of a candidate’s character before deciding whether they will extend an interview opportunity. A 2018 study by CareerBuilder found that close to three-quarters of employers turn to social networking sites to check out candidates as part of their hiring process. More than half of those hiring managers have decided against hiring a candidate based on what they saw on a social site.
Professionalism matters in the examples you share.
Consider this example: You’re under pressure to answer an interview question about the most challenging situation that you faced in your previous position. What comes to mind is dealing with a difficult former boss. Do you describe the situation in detail, throwing your boss under the bus? The answer, if you want a shot at the job, is no. Be sure that any stories you tell during the interview process avoid negativity, particularly if you’re describing past colleagues and companies.
Being too casual can hurt you – even if the industry is casual.
Some industries like tech are known for their jeans and hoodies culture. But if you’re not in the door yet and going for your interview, avoid adopting the industry’s informality as your own too soon. Wearing business casual to your interview is a better approach and shows respect for the hiring team.
Numbers matter when proving your value.
Both on your resume and in an interview, hiring managers will want to know exactly what you can bring to their table. When showcasing your accomplishments, avoid generalities. Instead, point to quantitative data that proves your value. For example, don’t just say that you helped increase your department’s profits; explain that you did so by 50%.
Arriving late to the interview can disqualify you.
On the day of your interview, showing up in the right place with time to spare should be at the top of your priority list. You may think your excuse of having gotten stuck in traffic is good enough to pardon a slightly tardy interview arrival, but to most hiring managers, it won’t be. Plan ahead to ensure that you have more than enough time to navigate any traffic snarls or other unexpected situations, and get there on time if you want a crack at the job.