When searching for a job, it becomes easy to view each hiring manager as the enemy. After all, they are the gatekeeper, the one who is keeping you from attaining your dream job (or in this economy, any job). Yet, it’s important to remember that they are in very much the same position as you – just in reverse. You have certain skills, training and expertise you wish to put to work for the benefit of a particular company. And they have been charged with finding someone who possesses the requisite skills, training an expertise that will drive the business and generate greater profits. Making the two come together in a mutually pleasing conclusion is simply a meeting of the minds.
The first thing you absolutely must understand is that the hiring manager is under a great deal of pressure to deliver just the right person for the job. Unless you are interviewing with an extremely small company, chances are you won’t find yourself sitting down with the CEO. That means the person interviewing you has to answer to someone. They aren’t about to jeopardize their job by taking a chance on an under-qualified or otherwise questionable candidate. As a result, they are going to ask the tough questions, make you prove yourself, and then perform the proper due diligence to verify that you are just as great as you say you are.
In nearly every instance, you come into an interview as a complete unknown. Your job is to make the interview feel comfortable and confident about hiring you. They are not trying to be the bad guy – or gal – they are simply seeking to assure themselves that you will be able to perform in the job in question. At the same time, their hiring decision must be one that leaves them feels safe and secure in their own career. Again, that’s why they are not about to take a chance on an unproven individual.
That’s not to suggest you must be absolutely perfect and possess a flawless job record to boot. Hiring managers understand that no one is perfect. Everyone has weaknesses and shortcomings. For that reason, you will find yourself answering questions about weaknesses, shortcomings, and difficult situations you encountered. For you, the trick lies in turning a negative into a positive. Maybe you were once assigned to manage the account of a company whose industry was a complete mystery to you. That may have been a shortcoming, but you can still win the hiring manager over if you share a gripping account of how you dove in, thoroughly researched not only the company, but its industry and key competitors, and then helped them achieve great things.
Finally, remember that the hiring manager is looking for a solution to specific pain points the company is currently facing. Once you are in the interview environment, pay close attention to what they say and ask a few probing questions of your own. Seek to uncover those pain points and then convince the hiring manager that you are the remedy, the one person that can relieve all that ails them.