Having worked in HR for many years before becoming a career coach, I learned a lot about job interviews. Specifically, how hiring managers come to a decision about who to hire. To the job seeker on the outside, you may think it’s a clear-cut process where the most qualified person for the job is selected. Unfortunately, hiring is never clear-cut. Especially, during interviews. Here’s why:
Most Hiring Managers Don’t Know What They Want
When a position becomes available in a company, it’s usually for one of four reasons:
- The person currently in the role is getting promoted and a replacement is needed.
- The person currently in the role quit and a replacement is needed.
- The person currently in the role is being fired and a replacement is needed.
- It’s a new position that needs to be filled for the first time.
In all of these cases, hiring managers are forced to come up with a list of candidate criteria they believe are needed to do the job successfully. This is where the problem begins. Why? Hiring managers often don’t know all the criteria needed to the job well. How is that possible? Let me explain…
The Job Search Fine-Tuning Process
While most hiring managers can tell you the tasks associated with a job and the hard skills needed to complete them, they have a much harder time identifying the ‘soft skills’ needed to succeed in the role. For example, it isn’t as easy to explain what type of personality will do best in a position. Nor is it simple to identify the aptitude a person must have to be able to learn in the company’s work environment. As a result, these things are often determined during a series of initial screenings of candidates with the right experience levels. After which, the hiring manager is able to better determine what they are looking for in a candidate. At which point, the information is conveyed to HR, the job description is adjusted, and the search for the candidate continues. Even with special tools, like this Career Decoder Quiz, to help identify the personas needed for a job, it can still stake some time for a hiring manager to fine-tune the job description.
EXAMPLE: Have ever had an initial interview only to be told they’re going with another candidate, BUT you then see the job re-posted a few weeks later? You know what happened. You were a victim of the job description fine-tuning process.
What Can You Do?
The single best way to stay in the running during the job search fine-tuning process is to nail the interview on two levels: personality and aptitude. If you can personally connect with the hiring manager, you can make a strong enough impression to make them want to adjust the job description in your favor. (i.e. This INC magazine article discusses using mimicry to be more likable in interviews.)
Instead of worrying about getting the job you are interviewing for, you should be focused on building a relationship with the hiring manager that can lead to you getting a job with him or her in the near future. The best way to do this is by completing thorough interview prep so you are relaxed yet confident in the interview. The more prepared you are, the easier it is for you to make a good impression.
NOTE: In the event you don’t get chosen, don’t assume you can’t get the job. While I don’t suggest you stalk/harass the employer, you can circle back in a month to check in on their progress in finding a candidate. By then, they have often come full circle with the job description and are re-evaluating previous candidates. Which means, it’s your chance to let them know you’re still interested.
Think of it this way: Hiring managers can sometimes act like ‘window shoppers’ – they’re just looking for now. It’s up to you to be the patient, positive business-of-one who is ready to provide your services once they’ve determined they’re ready to buy.
P.S. – Not sure how to thoroughly prepare for interviews? I invite you to check out the new comprehensive course, “Job Seeker’s Guide To Nailing Every Interview.” When LinkedIn readers use this link, they save over 20%. Work with me personally inside the course and you’ll get all your questions answered so you can nail your next interview!