5 Things Hiring Managers Notice During Job Interviews

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When it comes to finding the right person for a vacant position, recruiters have to look beyond a candidate’s resume and job history, which only offer facts about the candidate they’re interviewing. While your resume and cover letter are incredibly important, they’re only the first step—if the employer likes what they see, your next challenge is the job interview. 

The company’s objective is to find someone whose values, goals, and expectations align with its own and who has the right disposition for the role. Job interviews are so important because they give hiring managers an opportunity to look beyond the facts and get to know the person. For your part, you get a chance to reveal the person behind the qualifications and skills, to show you’re passionate about the job and excited to work for the company.

If you have a job interview coming up, you’re probably preparing for it by practicing your answers to common interview questions, doing research on the role and the company, and perfecting your elevator pitch (a short presentation intended to convince the hiring manager that you’re the ideal person for the job). These are excellent ways to practice, and they can go a long way in polishing your interview skills, boosting your confidence, and helping you control your nerves. Knowing what you want not only from the role but also from your career and being able to express it clearly is key to a successful job interview and works wonders for your confidence. 

However, that’s not all hiring managers look for in a job candidate—there are a lot of additional factors they take into account. If you’re feeling nervous about your upcoming interview, set up a mock job interview with one of our experts, who will give you constructive feedback to help you improve your body language, communication skills, and your answers to both common and industry-specific questions. You’ll end up feeling more confident, which will positively affect your performance.

Let’s now see what hiring managers notice during job interviews. 

1. Punctuality

One of the first things a hiring manager will notice is whether you’re on time, and not just right on time, but about 10 or 15 minutes early. Being on time is a sign of respect and shows that you’re serious about the job, while being late will make you seem inconsiderate and uninterested, whatever the excuse for your tardiness. Of course, some obstacles you truly can’t foresee, so prepare for the unexpected as much as possible by testing out the route to the company’s location a few days in advance, whether you’re driving, walking, or using public transportation. Be sure to factor in the weather and the traffic, and give yourself some extra room on top of that in case something unexpected occurs.

If your interview is online, you should still be ready earlier than planned so you can double-check your internet connection, sound, and video quality. Test your webcam and video-chat software with a friend or a family member to make sure you understand how to use it and avoid any technical issues. Your environment should look clean and professional—using a filter for your background is inappropriate, so find a suitable space and set up your device there.

2. Presentation

First impressions are important in any setting, and you don’t get a chance to make a second one. For a great first impression in a job interview, your presentation needs to be on point. The way you’re dressed and greet the interviewer, your eye contact, tone of voice, facial expression, and body language in general are all elements of your presentation and things the hiring manager is taking note of. Therefore, it’s extremely important to be mindful of how you speak about yourself and what kind of energy you bring into a room. Hiring managers are only human, and they’re subject to the same biases as the rest of us, so the way you make the interviewer feel can change their perception of you, regardless of what skills and qualifications your resume boasts.

Your outfit and overall appearance can also have a strong impact on how the hiring manager perceives you, so make sure that you wear something appropriate, professional, and comfortable and that your hair, makeup, and accessories are understated—the last thing you need is for your shirt to eclipse you. Go with soft, subdued colors that won’t overshadow you. While it’s important to dress professionally, it’s equally important to be comfortable in your outfit. If your clothes make you squirm and itch, it will be difficult to have the confidence necessary to ace your interview. One last piece of advice here: Put your phone in silent mode!

3. Preparedness 

Once you’ve both introduced yourselves and the hiring manager starts asking you questions, they’ll be taking note of how well prepared you are. Are you having trouble answering simple questions about yourself, your goals, or your job history? Do you look like you’re racking your brain for the right answers, or are you cool, calm, and collected, responding with confidence? Did you do your research on the role and the employer? Are you familiar with the company’s mission and values, or do you seem clueless about your potential new workplace? Do you come across as well-informed and passionate about the industry, or does it seem more like you’re here for the paycheck? 

A job interview is a professional setting, and the way you speak, the confidence you project, and the clarity of your answers (or lack thereof) will tell the hiring manager a lot about who you are as a person and as an employee. For this reason, many candidates conduct mock job interviews to practice and perfect their interview skills before the big day. Remember that it’s not just the content of your answers that matters but also the way you deliver them, including tone, body language, and framing. A professional mock interviewer knows how to replicate an authentic job interview environment and can provide personalized advice to help you polish your skills and grow your confidence.

4. Communication skills

The goal of a job interview is to allow the hiring manager to assess whether the candidate is the right fit for the role and the company while also allowing the candidate to determine whether the company is the right place for them. For the interview to succeed, there needs to be clear communication. Communication skills constitute an important soft skill that’s useful in any industry, and yours are truly put to the test in a job interview. Demonstrating great communication skills can help compensate for shortcomings elsewhere, while poor communication skills can detract from an otherwise great resume.

Through personal and behavioral questions, the hiring manager can learn more about a candidate’s character, job history, and the way they react in given situations. These questions allow the interviewer to assess whether an applicant performs well under pressure, works well in a team, has leadership qualities, can solve problems, and brings more to the table than other candidates. 

So, as a candidate, you have to sell yourself as the best choice without being rude or arrogant. Always be honest, but don’t be shy about highlighting your strongest qualities and skills, and remember to stay focused on the question, meaning no going off on tangents. Good communication is about truly listening to the question and providing a relevant, concise answer that’s easy for the other party to understand, so it’s worth practicing to hone this essential skill.

5. Personality

Joining a new organization is about a lot more than your skills and qualifications—you also have to get along with the other people in your team or office, and that usually comes down to personality. Now, we’re not saying anyone expects you to be friends with every single one of your co-workers, but fitting into the company culture is definitely an important factor. What hiring managers really look for is someone who’s respectful, polite, kind, pleasant, and good at their job, so be genuine and provide thoughtful answers that truly reflect your personality. 

If you’re tempted to present yourself as someone you’re not, just consider what would happen if you do get the job—you would either have to keep up the act forever, or you would be found out and may have to endure a work environment you don’t fit into. So, be yourself, and if you’re not right for this company, there are plenty more out there.

Job interviews can be nerve-racking, but being prepared does make a huge difference, and rehearsing your answers to common interview questions is one of the best ways to prepare for the real thing and improve your communication skills. To practice with an expert, schedule a mock interview so you can confidently tackle the next challenge on your career path.

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