Interviewing Tips From a Manager’s Perspective

This is post is a little different in that it is not going to be Biblical in nature. But hey, this blog is for all facets of life. So I want to give some interviewing tips from a manager’s perspective.

I’ve been a hiring manager for almost 10 years and have hired over 100 individuals and done probably over 500 interviews. It’s amazing the mistakes I see over and over, not only from individuals just entering the workforce, but ones that have been in the workforce for years.

Be Prepared

First thing first, you’re applying for a job. I expect that you’re going to try to be selling yourself, I would be doing the same thing, if I was on the other side of the table. In fact, if I think you’re a good candidate, I’m going to try to sell you that our company is the place to be. So in my mind as a hiring manager, I’m thinking what I see is going to be some of your best preparation. So I assume if this is your best, if I hire you, the preparation is see right now is the very best you have. The standard is being set now.

Don’t look like you pulled your clothes out of the laundry basket 5 minutes before coming to the interview. I work in a field where you would wear a suit to an interview. Personally, I don’t really care about that, but coming in with khakis and a polo that both look extremely wrinkled; makes it look like you prepared for this interview last minute.

Be prepared for the most obvious interview questions. What is a strength, a weakness? How do you deal with conflict? Tell me a little about your work experience/self. I ask these questions at the first part of an interview. These really determine how much I want to continue the interview. For the most part, I don’t really care what your answers are, I want to see that you were prepared for the interview. Do you have answers ready? Have you thought about it? People are good at giving their strength, but I’ve had some awkward waiting when I ask about weaknesses. Everyone has them, I just want to make sure you are aware of what yours is. But please. . . have prepared answers for those questions.

Etiquette

I personally am not real big on interview etiquette, but I know some managers are. The typical wait to be seated until the interviewer says have a seat type stuff.

For me, I’m going off your handshake. Is it firm? If I get a limp handshake the first thought that goes through my head is , “does this person have any confidence?”

If you’re interviewing with several people and subordinates of one of the interviewers are in there, do not say “oh you’re the one I have to impress” to the highest ranking person. I have personally ended interviews right there, if I thought the person was serious. Some say it because they’re nervous. Quite honestly, I value the opinion of what individuals that report to me more than my own, on the interviewee. They are the ones closer to the job function being interview, they know what it takes day in and day out. I would not have them interviewing if I did not value their opinion. There have been many times where I have said I don’t really think this person would work out after the interview and the people that report to me said the opposite. More times than not, I will hire the person, if there is a consensus from the rest of my reports that interviewed.

If the interviewer asks you to basically repeat information that is on your resume, don’t say, “It is on my resume, what questions do you have?” You’re being asked, for the very reason to see if that information is accurate. You would be amazed at how much people lie on their resume. Don’t lie. It only hurts you in the long run. Even if you get the job, if I find out you lied about your experience and abilities, it hurts how I see you later in your job performance.

Resumes

Speaking of resumes, make sure you go over it and proofread it. Mistakes here and there are not going to hurt you, but if the document is riddled with spelling errors, it makes it look like you’re not prepared or serious about the position.

I know many “experts” say you need a resume that stands out, that is different. I would say that’s wrong. I would say to choose a general style that looks professional. A couple of reasons for that. First, today most companies use an online system where you upload your resume. That system usually messes with the formatting, the crazier the format, the worse it looks in the online system. That system usually strips all the fancy fonts, and formatting you have in the document and gives a very basic text document. Second, if you have some fancy format, why are you trying to stand out? I look at that as usually trying to hid that there’s less substance.

When I’m looking at a resume, I’m only spending a few minutes on it, because I have several others I have to get through. That means your resume needs to be tailor made for the company you are applying for. Make sure you know what they are looking for and ensure you have those items in your resume, if you have the experience. Don’t lie, that will get found out in the interview and will not go well.

If you’re looking for good resume styles and resume builder, I would suggest MyPerfectResume.

You Are Interviewing the Company Too

Remember you also need to see if the company is a correct fit for you too. There will be times that the company will think you are their ideal candidate, but you don’t think it is a good fit for you. It needs to be a mutual fit for both parties. If you’re not happy working there, then you’re not going to be performing at your best.

Honestly, as a manager, I used to hate this portion of the interview, until I realized it was beneficial for me to find someone that wanted to be there. Why was it scary for me? I know all the issues we have. In fact, I’m more critical of those issues because it is my job to fix them. In this part of the interview, you need to be looking for body language from the interviewer. If they start shifting in their seat, it probably means they are not comfortable and you probably need to ask more questions to make sure you know what you need to.

What should you ask? As an employee you need to know about the culture. That will be the greatest impact to you and how you feel. I would suggest asking these questions:

  • How is your company’s morale and what do you guys do to maintain it?
  • What is the average tenure like? You want to see if people see this company as a place to have a career or a place that is a training ground for another company.
  • What is the company’s greatest struggle and greatest strength? Just as we have strengths and weaknesses, so does the company. The likelihood that the person interviewing you is going to be your boss is pretty high. If they don’t know what their company does well and doesn’t do well, do you really want them being your boss? How are they going to tell you what you’re doing well at and need improvement at to get promoted?
  • Always ask what a typical day looks like in your position. Many job descriptions are generic to fit multiple departments and give you very little insight to what your job will be.
  • What growth opportunities are there? Is there a place for you to expand your career or are you going to be doing the same job for the next 10 years.

I wanted to do this post, because like I said at the start, I’ve done quite a bit of hiring and I see a lot of the same mistakes happen over and over again. I also see a lot on the internet, but nothing that’s coming from a hiring manager’s perspective. I hope you found this useful. The best thing to remember when interviewing is, it’s uncomfortable for both sides, the interviewee and interviewer. Once you realize that, the nerves become more tolerable.

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