15 Interview Tips Hiring Managers Wish You Knew
If it's online, they can and will see it.
With the unemployment rate hovering around 3.7 percent—lower than it’s been in a decade, according to 2019 data from the U.S. Department of Labor—there’s hardly ever been a better time to be a job applicant. However, even in a market that favors job-seekers, 71 percent of job applicants admit that they find themselves stressed out by the job application and interview process, according to 2016 research from the LaSalle Network.
While there’s not much that can make the job hunt less nerve-racking, there are plenty of steps you can take to ensure you stand out from your fellow interviewees. To help you land the perfect job in no time, we’ve rounded up the top tips hiring managers wish you knew, straight from the insiders themselves!
They’re snooping on your social media.
If you think your social media presence is going unseen by a potential employer, think again. A 2017 CareerBuilder survey revealed that 70 percent of employers use social media to screen potential employees—and three in 10 employers hire someone dedicated solely to snooping on candidates.
So, before you even think about applying for a job, make sure your social media presence is locked down. Anything that remains up, even on a private account, should be inoffensive. That means removing photos of yourself under the influence, as well as anything that could be possibly considered misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, racist, ableist, or just generally demeaning or insulting.
They know if you’re being honest or not.
While any good résumé should paint a rosy picture of your accomplishments, it won’t be difficult for a hiring manager to tell when you’re outright lying.
“You’d be absolutely astounded by the number of people who think they can hoodwink their way into a job. It’s almost as if they assume that hiring managers don’t know anything about their own industries, or that applications just need to include the right keywords,” one hiring manager revealed on Reddit. “It’s pretty easy to spot when someone is just throwing sentences together, and it’s even more evident when someone has invented accomplishments in order to seem more impressive.”
They don’t want to read about your hobbies.
Once you’ve landed the job, you’re welcome to entertain your co-workers with tales of your fly-fishing trips and your macramé projects. However, those hobbies don’t have a place on your résumé.
“Why do I care if you’re into tennis, or enjoy cross stitch?” one hiring manager asked on Reddit. “Unless your hobby or interest is related to the job, or could impact the job (like you play on a national sports team and will need time away), leave them out.”
Don’t try to make your résumé stand out visually.
Using visual tricks to make your résumé look different from those of other applicants is a universally bad idea—your accomplishments and skills should be what makes you stand out. “I hate résumés that are (pick one or multiple): more than one page; double spaced; have dumb framing lines or whatever they are; all sorts of colors; tiny font; giant font,” says one hiring manager on Reddit.
Others caution against using oddly-sized paper in an effort to make your résumé stand out visually. And never, ever, ever use Comic Sans.
You should only list recent accomplishments.
It’s great that you won that trombone competition in middle school, but your résumé isn’t a great place to tell people about it. If you want to wow a hiring manager, another insider wrote on Reddit, only list accomplishments that are relevant to the job, and preferably ones from the last decade.
And if you’re going to list an objective, tailor it to the job.
If you write an objective on your résumé, make sure it’s specific to the job you’re applying for.
“The classic first line ‘objective: to obtain full/part-time employment in your company/business.’ As soon as I read that line I set them to the side,” another hiring manager revealed on Reddit.
Don’t refer to yourself in the third person.
Don’t write your résumé as though it’s about someone else. Write it in the first person, or you’ll come across as an oddball, at best. “Stop referring to yourself in the third person. This isn’t a press release,” recommends one hiring manager on Reddit.
Try not to scare anyone with your skills.
If you’re applying for an accounting position, don’t mention your cake-decorating skills. And unless you’re applying for a job that requires hand-to-hand combat, listing anything about how good you are at violence is a bad idea. One hiring manager recalled a particularly creepy candidate on Reddit: “He had ‘fighting skills’ listed. We move boxes.”
You need to personalize your cover letter.
If you’re not tailoring your cover letter to the job you’re applying to, don’t be surprised if you don’t get asked in for an interview. A cover letter written specifically for the job you’re inquiring about will make you stand out from the pack.
“Applications offered without a personalized introduction tend to get moved to the bottom of the pile,” the same hiring manager wrote on Reddit. “Form letters are incredibly easy to recognize, and they give the impression that a given applicant is more interested in getting hired than actually doing the job.”
And you need to use a professional email address.
When you’re sending in job applications, make sure you’re using an email address that wouldn’t cause a conservative hiring manager to faint. “I’m shocked at how people will use (I’m guessing) their personal (and not very professional) email addresses,” revealed another hiring manager on Reddit.
So, if your email address has any references to sex or drugs in it, make another one—preferably one that’s just your name—with which to send out résumés.
Don’t give cookie-cutter interview answers.
If you’ve landed an interview, try to make yourself stand out from the pack with inventive answers—interviewers want creative and interesting responses. When asked about your weaknesses, don’t just state that you’re a perfectionist. When asked about your strengths, don’t simply rehash what’s written on your résumé.
“I asked [a candidate] some level 2 and 3 questions, and he drew a blank on one, but followed up with ‘I could Google it easily,” recalls one hiring manager on Reddit. “So, I kinda jokingly, seeing what his thought process would be, said ‘what if you were unable to Google it?’ And he immediately came back with ‘If this job is somewhere where I can’t access Google I don’t want it.’ [He] worked here for 2 years.”
They don’t want to hear that you’re gunning for their job.
Hiring managers are people with bills to pay—just like you. Unless you want to have yourself automatically disqualified, don’t tell them you’re eager to someday have their job. They likely worked hard for that job and, odds are, they’re looking to keep it. However, you can still demonstrate your initiative by saying that you’re eager to grow with the company and do what it takes to expand your skillset along the way.
They want to see your sense of humor.
While you don’t want to seem like you’re not taking the interview seriously, a sense of humor can go a long way in impressing interviewers. “I was hiring a second videographer. Our director asked the candidate to describe his ideal co-worker. He pointed at our videographer and said ‘that guy,'” recalled one hiring manager on Reddit. “We hired him.”
You should ask questions, but don’t pry.
Having a few questions about the company you’re interviewing with shows initiative and makes it clear you’ve done your research. However, asking personal questions about your interviewer is unlikely to go over well. “A girl stopped me mid-question (she even put her hand up) to ask my star sign. Then the star sign of my significant other. Then she asked me to describe our relationship,” one hiring manager revealed on Reddit.
Be upfront about any skeletons in your closet.
While having a criminal record may make finding a position more difficult, having your employer find out about it on their own is even worse.
“I was interviewing a much older guy for a similar position of mine. Everything seemed okay, and he was our best candidate. Before moving forward, I did a quick Google search to only find out that he was fired from his previous job because of stealing $5,000 worth of computer equipment,” one hiring manager recalled on Reddit. And for more interview tips to get you ready for your big day, check out How to Ace Every Common Job Interview Question.
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