What Do Hiring Managers Look for in Interviews?

What do hiring managers look for in an interview

As a recruiter, a lot of job seekers ask me, “what do hiring managers look for in an interview?”

In this article, I’m going to reveal 5 hints for your interview with a hiring manager. These are the top 5 things hiring managers are looking for when they interview you. (No matter what industry you’re in).

You can watch the full list in video format below, or scroll down to read the article.

Interview with a Hiring Manager: 5 Things They Look For

1. Can you perform the job?

Do you have the skills, experience, abilities needed to perform the job? If there’s education or training required, that’s included here too.

Job requirements are often a bit flexible but the hiring manager is almost always looking for somebody who can step in and make a smooth transition, and start contributing relatively quickly.

So it’s not just about whether your experience is adequate, but whether it has set you up for a high chance of success.

Remember, companies want less risk… less risk you’ll leave the job, less risk you’ll spend months training and learning and not produce any results, etc.

To summarize: Companies want to see you that your skills and experience will allow you to hit the ground running and be successful in the job they’re offering – relatively quickly. 

This last part isn’t always the case; sometimes they just want a “hungry”, motivated person and they’re willing to be patient with them (particularly for entry-level jobs or younger job seekers). But in most cases, hiring managers look for how quickly you can learn the job.

The best way to demonstrate this is talking about past work and past successes that are as closely-related to their job as possible. That’s something you should be spending a lot of time doing in your interview with the hiring manager. 

2. Do you want the job?

Okay, so you’ve shown them you can do the job. But you also need to show passion in your interview. Do you want to do this? Is it exciting to you?

This tells the hiring manager how you’ll handle challenges, what type of energy you’ll bring, and most importantly- how long you’ll stay in the job!

Nobody wants to hire a person who will get bored at work, lose focus, or leave in 6 months, regardless of talent or experience!

Hiring managers DO worry about somebody being over-qualified, and that’s why. It takes a lot of time and effort to hire somebody, get them through orientation and familiar with how the company works, only to have them leave in 6 months.

If you want to beat the competition and get hired faster, one thing you should do in each interview is try to show a DESIRE for the specific job you’re discussing with the company, and put the company’s mind at ease about any risk of leaving within the first year.

3. Do you have the right attitude and motivation?

This area relates to your overall work characteristics, regardless of skills or experience and regardless of interest in this particular job.

In general… Do you seem motivated and driven? And by what?

Often the hiring manager will ask directly, “what motivates you? what is the reason you get up every day and come to work?”

It’s important to have a great answer to that. Get specific. Tell a story if you can!

They want to know how you’re going to respond when things get difficult.

If you accept this job and it ends up being a rocky first couple of months where you struggle a bit, what’s going to be your response?

Again- they don’t want you leaving in 6 months if things aren’t going perfectly to plan! Sometimes you join a company and it’s a struggle to get started. It happens to even the best workers and it’s definitely happened to me. But the hiring manager wants to know that you’re going to come in and work hard to overcome it, not quit.

Helping them understand the specific reasons that keep you going each and every day will put their mind at ease when it comes to this topic. It’s okay to get personal too (example: “I’m passionate about the automotive safety industry because my father was badly injured in a car accident”).

4. Will your personality fit with the team?

This is a huge component of what hiring managers look for in an interview, yet most job seekers don’t realize.

My suggestion is be authentic to who you are but also show that you’re flexible and able to work with a variety of people.

Don’t be too polarizing or extreme in the interview. Avoid words like “always” and “never” when describing your habits and personality.

Example of what NOT to say:

“I never work well with type A personalities”

“I always take the lead in groups that I’m in”

If you seem too extreme in any one direction, the hiring manager might become worried if your style is different than somebody else on the team.

The company has already invested time and effort into their current team. The hiring manager doesn’t want to lose that.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t stand out and be memorable when it comes to showing passion and enthusiasm. Those are always great personality traits to show. The more excited you seem for the work that needs to be done, the more likely you’ll get hired.

If a hiring manager interviews 20 different people for a job, how are you going stick out in his or her head? Showing high energy is one great way and increases the odds you’ll hear back sooner and won’t have to follow up to get a response after your interview.

5. How do you compare to the competition on these things?

This is the final step that a hiring manager is looking at, but one of the most important things to look at.

Let’s say John is the first person to interview for a job. One day later, the hiring team meets with a second candidate, Beth.

They’re still going meet other people, but what’s the first thing the hiring team is going to discuss after Beth leaves the room?

They’re going to talk about how they thought she compared to John. That’s the first question they’ll ask each other.

They’re not deciding who to hire yet (most companies don’t make a decision after meeting only 2 people), but they’re already starting to take note of who stacked up better in which areas.

So if you do a great job in the 5 sections above, and the hiring team is already thinking about how your experience seems like it’d help you learn this position quickly, or that you seemed like you’d get along great with a variety of team members, or that you’re very internally-motivated, it’s going to help you get hired faster, and for better jobs!

Helpful Resources Before Your Interview with a Hiring Manager

If you read the list above, you now know the top 5 things hiring managers look for in an interview.

If you want more help preparing for your interview, here are some common questions you should practice: Top 14 interview questions and answers.

And here are a couple of the most popular individual questions:

“Why should we hire you?”

“Why did you leave your last position?”

“Tell me about yourself?”



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