10 Things Hiring Managers Wish They Could Tell Candidates
Hiring is tricky. In theory, the process is easy. You write a job description, post that job on your website, or the job board of your choice. You sift through the resumes and interview the qualified applicants. You choose the best candidate for the job and hire him or her. Right?
Oh, I wish it were that easy, but anyone that has hired before knows that it is not!
My favorite saying is “you can’t predict humans”. They are complex creatures, and you can only form decisions based on typical behavior. I could tell you stories about all of the “atypical” behavior I have seen over the years, but I am writing an article, not a book!
The hiring process has many complexities, but many interviews go south based on some very simple actions taken by candidates.
I surveyed a group of hiring managers, and asked them to name one thing they wish they could tell all candidates. Here is their list.
1. Don’t Speak Poorly of Your Previous Company/Supervisor
I couldn’t have stated it better! There is usually a reason a person is looking to leave their current role, and it may have everything to do with their current boss, but now is not the time and place to slander your employer. A hiring manager is automatically flagging you as a potentially toxic employee, and has concerns that you will speak of their company as poorly in the future. Regardless of your current circumstances, keep it professional.
2. Your Body Language and Presentation Says a Great Deal About You
Hiring managers are not asking you to look like a contestant on “The Bachelor” or “The Next Top Model”. We are not talking about looks. Do you display confidence when you are sitting across from your interviewer? Are you dressed professionally for the position you are interviewing for? The rule of thumb is a suit, but there are certainly exceptions, depending on your occupation. Sit up straight and appear interested and competent, not indifferent and distracted. Make regular eye contact with your interviewer. For more tips on this, refer to our article on What Do I Wear to an Interview?
3. Do Not Fill Your Resume with Fluff
There are many opinions about resume formats, but hiring managers are looking for a few basic items. The most important is: what did you accomplish while you were in each position? Do you have data included with each position you held? Employers want to know what you did to stand out. If you don’t have quantifiable results listed in each position you have held, now is the time to add it. Refer to 3 Things a Modern Resume Must Have for more information.
4. Ask Relevant Questions
You may have a great idea of what the job entails after an interview, but be prepared with unique questions. Questions such as: additional details regarding the department you would be working in, the supervisor’s management style, cultural questions, or questions about the company history are all relevant and portray interest in the role. I cannot tell you how many times a hiring manager has made negative remarks when a candidate has not prepared questions.
5. You Can Be Too Early for An Interview
Enthusiasm is a great thing – so is punctuality. When a candidate arrives 30 or 40 minutes early for an interview, however, it can be a negative reflection. The hiring manager often feels obligated to come out and greet the candidate, or start the interview early. They do not want to leave you out there waiting, but are often cramming their schedule to allow for time to meet you. See our article on Too Early for an Interview for additional insight.
6. A Phone Interview is NOT Casual Chat
This should go without saying, but this is one of the common answers I received in the survey. Some hiring managers mentioned examples such as: that it was obvious that a candidate was lounging on a couch or chair, the background noise was so loud that it was difficult to hear the candidate’s answers, and – my favorite – the candidate was eating while talking with them! PLEASE take the phone interview as seriously as you would an in-person interview.
7. A Thank You Note is Appreciated
We will in a day and age where basic etiquette is no longer the norm. Whether you have interest in the position after the interview or not, DO send a thank you note to the individuals who interviewed you. An email is sufficient, as long as it is not a canned, copy and paste email that you send to everyone. Make the note unique, and reiterated details of your conversation. DO NOT send a group email!
8. State Your REAL Weakness
A hiring manager is interviewing you for both skills and cultural fit, so honesty is a must during the interview process. The manager will appreciate a genuine response like “my desk is notoriously messy, but I can always find what I need” versus the rehearsed response talking about your perfectionism. Having “perfect” answers to questions will not land you the position. Being authentic will.
9. They Will Often Check References Beyond Your List
We live in a small world, regardless of the size of your city. Social networks have created endless access to names and contact information. Will the hiring manager check references aside from the hand-chosen and prepared names on your list? You better believe it. Make it a point to exit any position on a positive note. You never know who your future boss knows. For more tips on resigning, please read 7 Things to Do Before You Quit.
10. Nobody Likes a Stalker
There is a difference between excitement and desperation. No one likes the latter, and it can sway an employer that was leaning toward you. Calling incessantly (even when you don’t leave a message – they know it’s you) is annoying. There are many instances where the hiring manager is waiting on approval to move forward. When they know, you’ll know. They are just as eager to fill the role as you are to get the offer.
The interview process is complex enough. Don’t ruin your chances by committing one of the above actions. Be conscious of your candidate etiquette, and before you know it, your job offer will be in your inbox.
by Natalie Lemons
Natalie Lemons is the Founder and President of Resilience Group, LLC, and The Resilient Recruiter and Co-Founder of Need a New Gig. She specializes in the area of Executive Search and services a diverse group of national and international companies, focusing on mid to upper-level management searches in a variety of industries. For more articles like this, follow her blog. Resilient Recruiter is an Amazon Associate.
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