I just hired a new team member and forgot how difficult it can be to find great talent. I’m typically helping prepare candidates, so it was eye-opening to view the hiring process from a different point of view. It’s hard to hire. I forgot how much time it takes to build the business case, create the job description, work with Human Resources, set up interviews, evaluate candidates, negotiate offers, and create an onboarding plan. I invested a ton of effort in finding just the right person – and even more excluding the wrong ones. A manager’s ability to find and integrate exceptional talent is a critical skill with a lot of potential career risk. Do it right and it can be a step towards the corner office. Do it wrong and it can be the last rung on their corporate ladder. A hiring manager puts a lot on the line.
Here are a few more interview tips to accompany my previous post - How to Prepare for an Interview. These are a few reflections on what I was thinking as I evaluated candidates.
Having empathy for the hiring manager and thinking through their point of view could help you land your next opportunity.
I invested time in the job description.
Bottom line – I invested here, so I expect you to do the same. Before posting an opening, I spend time either revising a job description to match my specific need, creating a description for a new role, or at least reviewing an existing one to make sure it is still applicable. Make sure you read it to get a sense of why the position is open right now. Look for what you think might be the key areas of responsibility. Take out your resume and map your skills, experience, and accomplishments to these areas. Find a way to translate the language of your previous jobs to the language of the job description and customize your resume to match. Don’t force it here, but if the job says KPIs and you typically use metrics – then adjust and use the one that I use. I’ll notice it.
I have a specific need.
There is a reason I posted the position. I might be backfilling an existing role because someone got promoted. The company could be growing fast and I need help. Or I might have a specific project or initiative that needs support. Whatever the reason, there is some specificity to the need. Based on the work that needs to be done, there are a certain set of KSAs (Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities) and experiences that I am looking for. You need to spend some time thinking about the need. It’s my job to communicate it through the job description and job posting, but it’s your job to understand what I need. You might need to do some research, ask people in your network, or come up with a good list of questions for the interviews. Once you have a sense of the need, you can match your skills and experiences. Help me see how you can meet my need.
I want you to interview well.
If you made it past the phone screen and the first meeting with me, I want you to wow the team. I’m asking my peers in the organization to invest time in assessing you as a candidate, so I want that time to be well spent. When you do well, it makes it easier to pick the best candidate. If you have an off interview and one person is ho-hum in the debrief, then that might be the end. I moved you to the next round because I saw potential. Feel free to ask me about the other people you are scheduled to interview. I’ll likely give you some context on who they are and their perspective on the role. I’d do this for any candidate who asks, but few of them do. Don’t be afraid to ask a couple questions about the other interviewers – who they are, what they care about, or where they sit in the organization.
I need to know you want the job.
I know you are evaluating other offers. If you are good, you are interviewing with multiple companies and may even be seeking a raise or promotion at your current company. I get that. I am going to look for a signal from you at the end of an interview that you want to move to the next round. This must be a clear signal (think "closing" the interview). You don’t have to give this signal if you’re not sure – that’s fine. But if you don’t send me the signal, I will look for someone who does.
I have a budget and salary range constraints (and some wiggle room).
When a position is posted, there is a salary range assigned to it. The more established the company, the more established the range. Big companies have done market surveys, set up pay bands, and tend to have less flexibility with negotiations. When I post the position, I have a budget and constraints. It’s just the way it is. I also have some wiggle room. I might be able to talk about sign on bonus or minor compensation changes. I have some wiggle room and I expect you’ll ask me if what’s possible. If you are respectful, I will go to bat for you. The expectations for your performance might increase, but that’s OK. Just be respectful and don’t make me regret making the offer. Realize that I have some wiggle room, but I might not have much. The more you communicate your value, the more likely I’ll push HR.
I don’t want to screw this up.
Who I hire is part of my personal brand. I want to make a great hire and bring someone on who will fit the culture and get things done. I also want to make sure I don’t bring someone in that will negatively impact my brand. I need to make sure you’ll fit the culture. Hiring carries with it risk for me. Make sure you’re thinking of ways to help me succeed. Realize this risk exists and work hard to make it easy for me. Crush the interviews so everyone falls in love with you – especially my boss. You’ll make life so much easier.
I will help you succeed.
Once you are on board, my number one job is to help you be successful. I’ll put together an onboarding plan and help you jump start your network. We’ll talk goals and professional development. I’ll be in your corner. When you are interviewing, give me a taste of what our one on ones will look like. After I get my questions out of the way and ask you for yours, show me some depth of thought. Ask me about my leadership style. Ask me what it’s like to be on a team with me. Ask me what I’m working on and where I feel weak or strong. I welcome that conversation as it shows you are thinking things through. You must make sure this is a good match (as much as I need to do the same). Don’t be afraid of the tough (but respectful) questions.
Keep the hiring manager’s point of view in mind the next time you’re looking for a job. It might just get you hired. Happy hunting…
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- Mike Sweeney, www.sabercoaching.com