Knowing what’s important to hiring managers, what they want to hear from a candidate during an interview, and what factors impact their decisions are key. To position yourself as the perfect candidate, consider these seven things:
1. Honesty is critical. Be honest with yourself first and foremost. Is this really the best next career step for you, or are you competing for the position just so you can get out of your current job? The hiring manager will quickly notice if your strengths aren’t a good match.
2. Personality matters. Hiring managers want you to be happy and fit in as much as you do. You could have the exact skill set needed for the job but won’t get hired if your personality clashes with the company culture and/or the people with whom you would be working. Personality styles such as being too aggressive or too shy are factors when considering candidates for positions.
3. Enthusiasm vs. aggression. Companies want to hire executives that show enthusiasm and are upbeat. There is a fine line that can be crossed from enthusiastic to annoying or pushy – and crossing this line can destroy any chance for a job offer. Behaviors that irritate hiring managers are overly frequent emails or phone calls to check on your status in the hiring process and not respecting their time. Curb your enthusiasm.
4. Small things matter. Spelling errors and formatting issues in your resume and career documents are not tolerated by hiring managers. These blatant errors tell them that you may not be thorough in your job either. Be on your best behavior at all times; you never know when a receptionist will report to the hiring manager that you were less than cordial when you were turned down for parking validation. Some companies even set up these challenging situations to observe the adaptability of a potential employee.
5. References count. Hiring managers are suspicious if you can’t produce references. Even if your company policy is not to give references, there probably are other people throughout your career that can attest to your work ethic and experience. Be sure to specify what each reference will confirm; for example, a former boss will talk about how well you take direction; or a direct report may talk about your leadership skills.
6. Beyond the reference list. Skilled hiring managers dig deeper than your reference list to find out more about you. They intentionally call people not on your list because we all know the people on your reference list were handpicked and rehearsed to give a positive report.
7. Job offer tactics. No matter how encouraging the hiring manager seems at the end of the interview, don’t count on the job until a written offer is presented. Many factors can complicate or interfere with the hiring process, all or none of which may be the direct result of something you said or did. They may not want to reveal you didn’t get the job because they fear repercussions or a confrontation. Keep a positive attitude and continue to forward in your job search until you receive that offer in writing.