For you, the only thing you want is to get a job. For the hiring manager, making the hire is a priority competing with many others at the same time. So what is going on in the hiring manager’s mind? Most hiring managers take no pleasure in the hiring process. It’s just one more thing they have to take care of, and they often feel insecure in making that final decision, since some of their previous hires proved disappointing.
A hiring manager also knows that making a hiring mistake could potentially ruin his reputation and credibility. While reviewing resumes he is asking himself three questions: Why should he interview you? What can you do for him? And if hired, would you be effective in filling the job duties?
Now, provided that you get invited for an interview, the hiring manager has three more qualifying questions to answer before deciding to hire you: (1) Are you particularly good at what he needs done? He is not hiring just average people. This is your opportunity to recite your accomplishments eloquently and succinctly. Do not repeat what you said in the past. Highlight only your accomplishments and the results. (2) Do you fit into his organization? This is the primary area in which you have to be convincing. You may have all the qualifications, but if the hiring manager cannot see you as part of his organization, then nothing will help you. (3) Are you committed? The hiring manager sees in you an investment—hopefully, a long-term investment. And he wants to make sure it’s a good one. He also wants to make sure you are promotable and have the potential to grow within the organization.
As you can see, the hiring process is complex for both the hiring manager and the candidate. Both sides will share in the potential rewards as well as the associated risks. The question for the candidate remains: how to increase chances of getting hired by outshining the competition? The theoretical answer is to network to the max, because statistics have proved that 60 to 80% of people found their jobs via networking. The practical answer is to mock-practice your interviewing skills. You can do that with friends or your spouse or—best of all—with a qualified career coach. The reason that interviewing skills are vital to acquire is simply that hiring managers make their decisions based on how well you interview and not on your job skills.
When preparing my clients for interviews I am often handed the Job Description relevant to the interview. Most often I caution my clients to take that Job Description with a grain of salt. I have learned through the years working for major companies that “the bigger the company the bigger the mess”. And I of course say this with sarcasm but there is a lot of truth in this. Typically Job Descriptions are documents required by Human Resources to have on file for reference purposes. They have no practical use except during the hiring process or during the yearly employee evaluation should there be a dispute. Once a position needs to be filled the Job Description becomes the focal point for recruiting. However, very often these documents have not been adequately updated and made pertinent to the opening. At times they are outright misleading! Evidence to this was when I interviewed with Honeywell. Truthfully, I was very reluctant to apply for the position advertised in The New York Times. It was two titles below my level but it was 15 minutes drive from my house. Since I was so upset with my employer at that time I was very motivated to make a change. Evidently my resume was so impressive that I was called in for an interview. Only during that interview I find out that they are looking for someone with my background and accomplishments and not what they advertised for. I have spent my best fifteen years of my career with Honeywell.
So what is the candidate to do to be best prepared for the interview? The answer to this question is to learn the skill of sleuthing into the company through his networking contacts and the skill of being able to ask the interviewer questions revealing the key issues on his mind. The Job Description may reveal some of the issues but often is buried among the details. The reason for this is easy to understand. Job Descriptions are often written by HR. How much they understand the core needs of the position? HR most often uses standard language descriptions that are very general. “Looking for a highly motivated self-starter with strong organizational and leadership skills. Must be an excellent communicator with…”. The same goes for recruiters unless they have a long-standing relationship with the company. The conclusion is that the candidate should attempt to surface the true needs of the hiring manager as soon as possible at the start of the interview. One way to do this is by asking the interviewer a question such as “…I understand what you are saying but I wonder if you could share with me what would the hired candidate be doing say in the first three weeks on the job? Paraphrasing that question you would be asking what is important for you? After all a newly hired person will focus in the initial period on the job on what the boss needs done. Right?