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What Do Hiring Managers Look For?

Career Skills, Interview Tips, Job Placement, Professional Development, Resume Tips

What do hiring managers look for in applicants? What are they thinking during your interview? It’s difficult to know how to impress employers and what they are looking for in their next employee. Luckily, In 2022, we spoke with hiring manager Shelly Dretzka from aHRrow about how applicants can stand out in the application and interview process.

The Application Phase

Hiring managers are under a lot of pressure, especially right now, to find high-quality candidates who will stick with their organization long-term. Dretzka emphasized the importance of choosing that candidate very carefully because of all the time and effort associated with filling open positions and training new employees. Dretzka also touched on the fact that no matter how desperate a hiring manager is, they can’t appear too desperate because that may be perceived as a red flag by applicants.

What Are Employers Looking for in a Resume?

Dretzka recommends making your resume easy for the hiring manager to read by highlighting or bolding certain skills or certifications you know the employer is looking for based on the job description. Dretzka shared that she loves the idea of having a “Master Resume” on which applicants list ALL of their past job experience and then customizing that into a specific resume for each position they’re applying for based on the desired qualifications.

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The reason for wanting to quickly point out specific skills and experiences to the hiring manager is that they may only be looking at your resume for nine seconds, so you’ll want to make sure there’s obvious indicators on your resume that make them pause.

Hiring managers are also looking at the length of time you’ve spent in each position. If you show a consistent pattern of switching jobs after a short amount of time, this may count against you. However, this is very subjective and dependent on the particular industry you’re in and the company and position you’re applying for.

Another important tip Dretzka mentioned seems obvious but is worth mentioning, PROOFREAD YOUR RESUME. Spelling and grammatical errors are a huge pet peeve for some hiring managers and can automatically eliminate you from the candidate pool. Have a friend or family member proofread your resume or upload it to an online grammar-checking tool like Grammarly.

Applicants may be hesitant to apply for positions that they’re not 100% qualified for. Dretzka explained that the job description hiring managers will post is often a “wishlist” and that hiring managers are generally open to applicants who meet only 60 or 70% of the qualifications.

The Interview Phase

Hiring managers are taking into account how quickly you respond to requests for interviews and how many times, if at all, you request to reschedule the interview. Dretzka shared she will generally work with an applicant if they request to reschedule once but tends to lose her patience and move on to other candidates if someone asks to reschedule any more than that.

Dretzka also mentioned that in today’s Great Resignation hiring frenzy, applicants may be able to stand out by simply answering their phone calls and showing up to interviews.

How Do You Prepare for an Interview?

Beyond that, Dretzka highly recommends doing your homework and thoroughly researching the company you’re interviewing with by checking out their website and social media as well as connecting with past and present employees on LinkedIn. You can ask these employees about the company’s culture, values, and the direction it is heading. You can also find reviews of most companies on websites like Indeed and Glassdoor, keeping in mind to consider that some employees may have had very unique experiences at each organization that are specific to their particular circumstances and position.

Dretzka also recommends being prepared with questions for the interviewer. Bringing thoughtful, specific questions will show the interviewing team that you have put in genuine time and thought into what it would be like to be in the position you applied for.

Interviewees should also strive to answer questions genuinely and honestly. Hiring managers have keen eyes and ears that can easily detect someone who is lying or who is making things up as they go along.

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Things to Remember

Dretzka recommended that above all else, be yourself. If you focus too much on fitting yourself into roles instead of finding a role that is a great fit for you, you’ll be looking for a new job again before you know it.