Hiring Managers

How Hiring Managers Make Decisions

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Every day, millions of job seekers find themselves struggling to understand one big question: What does it take to actually get a job offer? Interviews come and go but no job offers. What gives?

The whole job search process has changed up so much in the past few years but at the end of the day, there is one thing that has not changed at all – you can only get a job offer as a result of your performance in a job interview.

However, if you don’t have a fundamental understanding of who actually gets job offers, it doesn’t really make a difference if you land five or 50 job interviews. It’ll be tough to land a job. Here’s a little insight on how hiring managers make decisions…

How Hiring Managers Make Decisions

When hiring managers sit down together to decide which candidate gets a job offer, the decision is not likely going to be made based upon any one candidate’s education, qualifications, work experience, or hard skills. Occasionally, one or more of those could play a part by breaking a tie between two great candidates but that doesn’t happen all that often.

The simple fact that decisions typically do not center around that criteria should clarify the truth: some people who are clearly less qualified than you are, do get the job offer.

As an attempt to be the most impressive candidate, many job seekers search online for the most common interview questions and then spend time pulling up their best stories so they can give great answers that show they have the skills to do the job.

But by the time you get past the phone interview (and especially when you get to the the second interview and beyond), it’s not really about whether or not you meet the requirements set forth in the job posting anymore. It’s already been determined that you are qualified enough.

Pulling out your best stories is a good idea, but it skips over a key component – hiring manager don’t just want to know what you did in previous jobs. They also are looking very closely at how you did it.

Hiring managers are very interested in knowing who you are as a person – your work ethic, your attitude, your work style, your people skills, and whether or not you will fit in the work culture and be a big asset to it.

Who Gets The Job Offer?

If two managers are trying to make a hiring decision, the following is a representation of a typical conversation:

Manager 1: “Wow! Mike has 10 years of experience and a masters degree, but I was more impressed with Jeff. Wasn’t that a great interview? He doesn’t have the experience but he has the passion, a great attitude, and the drive that we need around here. And he has a lot of great ideas! His enthusiasm was contagious! I sensed that Mike sees this job as more of a way to just collect a paycheck. I also get the feeling he might be resistant to our way of doing things. Didn’t he seem pretty set in his ways? I think he might be burnt out or something. I think I can get Jeff up to speed in no time. Staci was good, too, but I say we go with Jeff.”

Manager 2: “I agree. I admit, I am a little concerned that Jeff has only three years of experience since we decided we needed someone with at least five years. But he seems to really know his stuff so I think I am okay there. I love how he talked about how important his own personal development is – he’s the type who will probably train himself.

“You are right on with Mike –I didn’t sense that in the first interview but I did in this one. He seems like the guy who wouldn’t do much outside his job description. And, while he could step right in and do the job, we definitely need more positive energy around here. I liked Staci, too. What are your thoughts on her?”

Manager 1: “I like Staci and she could be the right person, but having Jeff and Staci’s interview back-to-back really showed some of Staci’s deficiencies. She could easily do the job. She didn’t say anything that was overly concerning, but she just doesn’t have that energy – the enthusiasm that Jeff has. He seems to have a lot more ambition than she does. It just doesn’t seem like this job excites her as much. Jeff seems excited about what we do here and has a personal interest in it and that’s important.

“Also, I am not certain she’ll fit in – remember when she talked about that project she worked on with four others but then said she did 90% of the work? She had a reasonable explanation but I don’t know if I buy it. Plus, she did seem focused on questions about work hours and flex time. I just feel like Jeff will really run with this job and turn it into something great. I would like to extend an offer to him.”

Manager 2: “You’ll be his manager, so if you are certain, I will support that.”

How Do Hiring Managers Describe You?

That is a key question to ask yourself. Do you express your positive attitude, enthusiasm, excitement, and stellar work habits? How will hiring managers describe you, as a person, after you leave?

Soft skills are critical and it’s not enough to say you have them. Most people say they are a positive person and will work very hard to get the job done right. That does nothing for you if you don’t prove it. If you want to impress, hiring managers must be able to feel those words and see how you displayed those characteristics in the past.

Show enthusiasm in your tone – raise it up a few levels! Be expressive and show excitement. Show you care about the work by giving examples of how you cared and expressing it in a caring tone. Show how you always put forth your best effort in everything you do by giving clear examples of excellence in past jobs. Show ways you went above and beyond and express why excellence is important to you.

However, there is one critical question that plays the biggest part in making this work for you. Are you that person?

Most people know they should present themselves in this way but many just say who they are and don’t show it. And some are people who don’t actually even have positive attitudes. And many of these people go in to interviews and try to fake it. Some people are really good at it. Many others are not so good at it. But for the most part, a lot of hiring managers can see right through it.

By far, the most effective way to express positivity, enthusiasm, and excellence is having it in you to express – it has to be real to really have a significant impact. If that’s what hiring managers want to see in you, then it should go without saying that they also expect it from you on the job.

If those words don’t describe you, taking some time to work on your own personal development, in this area, should be a top priority on your to-do list.

When it’s all said and done, hiring managers need to be WOWed by you! If you want to stand out and get job offers, then show up at the interview and give them your best self so that when you leave, they already know they want you to come back.


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Jessica Simko

Jessica Simko is a senior-level HR Consultant and job search/career strategist. Please feel free to download her FREE report on "The Job Interview Game."

11 comments

  1. I went through 3 interviews and was told by a lower level HR person that I was one of 2 finalists. The hiring manager met with me in the 3rd interview and said he wasn’t interested in skills as they can be learned, he is interested in attitude. I displayed a positive attitude, love of learning, and strong work ethic. I was told I would find out something the end of the week and sent thank you letters. I received an email saying he wanted interview more candidates and HR would follow up with me in 2 weeks. I replied to the email that I knew that meant the hiring manager wasn’t impressed by me so I said there was not need to follow up with me.

    I immediately got a phone call from the HR person saying that he only wanted to interview two more people and those candidates weren’t new competition just two that hadn’t originally been finalists. I was told the interview teams were very impressed with me. I was asked if I was still interested in the position and I said I was very interested. The HR person called me on her day off, so she didn’t have my phone number handy and had to get it from somewhere. Does that mean I still have a chance and if so, is it probable he just wanted to validate his selection? Please let me know. Thanks!

    • I believe that hiring managers hires based on daily mood and YEs, on racial basis. Very few managers are objective and use accuracy. Wrong impression because the manager is particularly “nasty” regarding your ethnicity and a combination of your culture (the candidate culture) make the needle of the scale go to a direction instead to the other. Despite the ” tolerance ” factor, USA is very intolerant and based on races issues. Look at the application and see the voluntary self-identification; it is illegal but is a reality. Furthermore, in US every person charged of something fell as a semi-God; an entity that can maneuver lives and people depend from them. Just stupid assholes without life.

  2. I went on 3rd interview I emailed all interviewers to thank each one of them I got a letter from them saying at this time we won’t make a hiring decision HR will contact me in the near future.Why would they interview me 3 times and tell me they won’t make a decision soon.This is a goverment job I really want. Just don’t make any sence at all.

  3. I too agree that recruiters use cookie-cutter methods, both for interviews and other forms of screening. To me, this seems lazy and narrow-minded. I personally know two job-hoppers who look sharp, smell sharp, provide “perfect” answers to the usual interview questions, show extreme enthusiasm throughout the hiring process, and even beyond. In other words, they talk the talk. But, they CAN NOT walk the walk. Hence, I referred to hem as job-hoppers. Sooner or later, they are found out and get the heave-hoe. Recruiters, HR reps, and managers need to get their hands dirty and dig for the right candidate. When you stop thinking you know everything, then you will likely start to knowi something.

  4. My first consideration of any application is in relation to spelling and grammar – is it spelled correctly, and does it read comfortably because this may be the only interface I may have with a candidate, and if they can’t be bothered to do this, then I can only infer that they can’t be bothered to apply the same self-dicipline and self-respect and effort to the position.
    Same applies to you – “manger #2″ indeed…

  5. OK, I agree with the article, but for example I’m an introvert and this kind of showing of in the interview is completely impossible type of behavior for me. Because any interviewer will sniff instantly that I’m making up this false excitement. How can I overcome this problem?

    • Elizabeth Burnside

      Maybe if you apply for things that really engage you in a field you actually do care deeply about those feelings will come through no matter who you are talking to. It is true that we all need to earn a living but if you are truly excited about what you do, as opposed to paying the bills, you will find this comes through in interviews and beyond. There is more to life than money, and feeling that you make a difference in some way is part of the total compensation package. If you think about your style, maybe you will find that being an “introvert” is not so black and white, and not a bad thing if you are engaged and enthusiastic about what you are doing. We all get out of bed in the morning for complex reasons–think about total job satisfaction. Your real engagement will come through to others–and this will get you the job and help you keep it! Good luck!

    • Hi Veronika,

      I totally see where you’re coming from. I, myself, am an introvert on the far side of the introvert spectrum. I listen and observe much more than I talk (i’m sure that’s the case with you, too). I immensely enjoy my alone/quiet time.

      When I first started out my career, I would be “that person” who sat silently in meetings not saying a single thing but thinking many thoughts. It was after the meetings where I would approach my managers and co-workers one-on-one and share my ideas and input which they always seemed to like.

      One day, during my performance review, my manager said that my one major development area was that i needed to speak up more (a lot more) and voice my opinions on things, even if i am afraid people wouldn’t agree with them. From that day forward, I trained myself to do just that. It was incredibly difficult at first, very awkward. But as time goes by, it gets a lot easier. Now, i’m actually running large meetings, sharing ideas with people well above my pay grade, and speaking in front of classrooms full of people. Everyone is always surprised to find out that i’m a heavy introvert, which i’ll take as a compliment since i’ve been able to fool so many people ;)

      I would strongly recommend that you enroll in a beginner improvisational comedy course. I did and it worked wonders on my speaking skills. It really helps you be able to overcome your anxiety, come up with stuff on the fly and articulate what you’re thinking.

      Remember, just because you don’t speak up doesn’t mean you aren’t thinking great things. Your brain/introversion is fine. It’s the speaking out/up aspect that you need to work on and that is a completely trainable skill if you’re willing to learn it. good luck!!!

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