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What do hiring managers look for?

Looking for a job during Covid-19? Before doing anything else ask yourself, "What are hiring managers looking for?" And then prepare yourself to that. If you're a regular reader of this blog you know that I interview a lot! In between interviewing for jobs and interviewing candidates as a hiring manager, here's what I've figured out.


1. Are you really interested in the job?

As a hiring manager, I see this a lot! Especially when candidates send through generic resumes from which I am supposed to skim through and figure out what skills they have! Is this you? Please have some pity on us and yourself. Hiring is not a fun activity. We take away time when we could have done a million other things, to look at your resume. And we want to go back to the million other things as soon as we can. So making us summarize your resume is not going to land well. In fact, it's very likely that you won't even hear back from the job again, and then you'll wonder why people don't respond to you.


Now, even if you've somehow gone past the resume screening and gone to the interview stage, the hiring manager is still establishing if you really are interested in the job or are just applying anywhere and everywhere. After all if you're not even interested while joining, it is unlikely that you'll be enthralled after. So, if you haven't done your research, then forget it. So, what can you do to make sure you're putting your best foot forward?


Research. Research. Research.


Research about the company. The job role. The hiring manager. Potential interviewers. And potential team mates. Use the power of the internet - LinkedIn and company annual reports especially, to have a better idea of the company and the role, than any of your competition. This in fact is helpful for you too because ultimately, with due diligence you have better chances of figuring out whether you really want that job!


2. Are you a problem solver?

You might think you are. You might as well be the best problem solver since Mr. Einstein. But if you don't demonstrate this though your resume and job interview, you are selling yourself short. Sorry! In fact you're not selling yourself at all!


Hiring managers want to hire you so that their problems go away. So if you're not demonstrating how you've solved several problems in the past and helped organisations navigate challenges, then what's the point in hiring you?


Some technical people equate problem solving to using a piece of code to automate sending out some emails. While this could be true, don't forget that the real problem you're being hired to solve is a business one. Why is it that you wrote the piece of code? Why were the emails being sent out in the first place? Why were they important? What is the dollar value attached to sending those emails? Now, if you've automated sending those emails, a part of the dollar value attributed to those emails could be yours. Pitch to this idea and you'll be the problem solver for the business, rather than being the problem solver for technology with a piece of code.


And then there's this other thing about being a problem solver - are you great to work with? You might be great at problem solving but also be a total farce-hole! So, even though you're great at solving business problems, you could be creating a ton of personal problems within the team. So, what you need to convince is that you are competent both professionally and personally.


In fact, the chart below I found on Muse is an excellent representation of this.

Source: The Muse


3. Are you self-aware?

Have you seen a trend here? My best is always saved for the last! People are scared to answer questions like, "Tell us about a time when you failed" or "Tell me about a time when you made a mistake". People get unnecessarily worried about how to answer when asked about failures in interviews. However consider two things:


  • No one is perfect, i.e. everyone has failed. So failure isn't something to be ashamed about. In fact, no one wants to be working with a Mr. / Ms. Perfect. Showing vulnerability is a power move, and not the other way around. Being vulnerable immediately puts you in the driver's seat.

  • Failure is also something to be celebrated, as long as you're aware of it, and trying to correct it. Why? After all look at Silicon Valley. If there's one thing we should learn from the tech entrepreneurs, it is the fail fast approach.


So if you're being asked about a time when you failed, you're being asked about a time when you were human. And then we're establishing whether you're smart enough to course-correct. If you are, why worry? In fact, you're an asset if you have failed and learned from your mistakes. But god bless you if you think you're perfect- sure as hell you don't belong to my team!


Did this inspire you to approach your job search a bit differently? Let me know how you'll change your approach.

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