How Hiring Managers Think

I went to a café for lunch today.  I don’t usually eavesdrop on other’s conversation, but in this café, it’s so cozy it’s impossible to ignore other’s conversations.   Well I happen to overhear a very interesting and loud conversation between 3 people who work at an environmental software company.   They are trying to decide whether to hire a candidate they already interview and how to fill another entry-level sales position.  I thought I share this to demonstrate one example of how the hiring managers think and what that may mean for job seekers

Let’s start with the person they already interviewed.  Let’s call her Susan.

  • They all express similar opinion about her qualification – Susan is really good and has experience in the industry already but they were a bit concerned that she may be set in her ways on how she works and that may not be a good fit for their small company filled with young people.

Key point: If you have quite a bit of experience and are applying for a job at a small company, show somehow in your interview, how you can still be flexible and adaptable to their ever changing environment.

  • After some discussion, the person that seems the most senior said, “She does seem qualified.  Let’s give her a try since Rick highly recommended her.”

Key point: Good reputation matters a lot.  So spend as much time on networking and building a good reputation for your work as you do on your resume and interview skills.  For more networking tips, click here

Then they moved on to the entry level position they want to fill with a recent college grad.

  • They agonized for good 15 minutes on the job description.  What characteristic do they want and why?  and how to phrase it in the job description.  They wondered if it was too generic to say “Strong communicator, detailed oriented, etc..”

Key point: Read the job description carefully. More likely than not, the hiring managers spend time on spelling out exactly what they want.  Tailor your resume for each application to easily show how you have what they want.  You can  download a free resume template here to get started

  • The most senior person then said, “we probably want a woman for this entry position than a guy.  Women tend to be better communicators.  I don’t want to profile candidates, but just look out for it.”  Later on he said, “Whether their resume and cover letter are articulate could be a good signal whether they are a good communicator.  My wife is super articulate and her resume is much better than mine.”

Key point: 1) Hiring is a subjective process.  Hiring managers are human and will undoubtedly use their life experience to judge who is a good candidate or not.  2) Women can have advantage in certain type of jobs if hiring manager thinks gender makes a difference in qualification, even though they cannot officially state that anywhere.   3) If you didn’t get an interview or a job, it may have nothing to do with your qualifications.

  • “Let’s get 45 to 50 resumes this week and narrow it down to 3 or 5 based on their resume and cover letter and do the interview from there.”

Key point: It’s a numbers game for hiring manager and for job seekers.  So you should spread your net wide as well and apply to as many positions that interest you.

  • “When I interview a candidate, I like to ask question like what is your greatest strength?  And see how they answer the question.  I want to see if you listen and really answer my question or spend 10 minutes listing out all kinds of things all over the place

Key point: Listen to questions carefully in interviews and answer exactly the question that is asked.  Be organized and concise.  Having a lot to say may not be a good thing if it’s not to the point

As you can see, there is no set process on how hiring works.   This is just one example I happen to hear.  It’s a bit of trial and error on both sides and it’s going to be somewhat subjective.   Just like dating, you just have to get yourself out there, learn from each experience, and in time you will find a good match.  Good luck out there!

–  Lei

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