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How to Prepare for a Hiring Manager Interview, Part 1: The Basics

interview tips Jul 14, 2021

Hiring manager interviews can be tricky to prepare for because the interview can take so many different paths and hiring managers can apply many different techniques. It’s difficult to prepare for everything that might happen, but the information below should help you get ready for this important stage in the interview process.

Over the course of this 3-part blog series on hiring manager Interviews, I would like to highlight 20 items for success. These are broken down into three categories: The Basics, Their Needs and Pro Tips. I also suggest you check out my YouTube video for more insight and information on this topic.


Here are some of the basic interviewing strategies you should understand and apply during the hiring manager interview:

Item #1 – Expect the Unexpected

There are so many different approaches I’ve seen hiring managers take when interviewing candidates. They aren’t always bound to one particular structure and they can often get quite creative with their techniques. You have to come into this interview expecting the unexpected. Be ready to adapt to whatever comes your way and try not to let anything unusual about the interview throw you too far off track.

Item #2 – Common Questions

There will most likely be certain common questions you can expect in any hiring manager interview. The four I see the most are:

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. Why do you want to work here?
  3. What do you look for in a manager?
  4. What would your co-workers and/or current/former manager say about you?

 Item #3 – Questions for the Hiring Manager

Typically, at the end of the interview, you will be able to ask the hiring manager questions. Always start with positive questions about them, what they like about the company, their role, and a unique/fun challenge they are currently working on. Remember, this is done at the end of the interview, so don’t challenge them too much. Keep it on the softer side. If you get through the process and they want to hire you, that is the time to ask more challenging questions to determine if you want to work for them! 

Item #4 – Positivity

You should exude positivity in all facets during this interview. Make sure to focus on using positive words and by reflecting positively on past events, even if they were failures or conflicts. Negative people do not get hired!

Item #5 – Skill Alignment

This is one of two areas where preparing can really help you with a Hiring Manager interview. It is critical to align your skills and strengths with the position needs. Walk through the job description and identify the top areas where your skills are a strong match for the role. I highly recommend narrowing it down to the top 3 to keep your responses and examples more focused.

Item #6 – Research

Your interview goal is to align your skills with the position. Understanding the organization, their brand, their core values and their mission will enable you to strengthen your top three relative skills even more. Research the company and implement some of these research items into your answers. Find ways to align your skills not only with the role, but with the company itself.

Item #7 – Brevity

One of the most important things to remember when interviewing is brevity. You want to communicate your skills and show why you are a good fit. Be clear and concise with your answers. When answering standard questions—such as “Tell me about yourself” or “Why should we hire you?”—think 60 seconds or less. Your behavioral answers should be in the three-minute range, depending on the complexity. And, your open-ended questions need to be well structured, never going over two minutes in your solution. Sometimes, hiring manager interviews are shorter than other interviews in the process. Staying on point is key.

We’re just starting to dig into this topic. Hiring manager interviews are a very important part of the process and they can be challenging to prepare for in a number of areas. Next week in Part 2, we will focus more on the hiring manager’s needs. This includes concepts like culture fit and how to demonstrate a learning mindset. Stay tuned! 

If you are looking for professional interview coaching, contact me today to set up an introductory consultation. You can also visit the Practice Interviews YouTube page for more videos on a wide variety of different interview prep topics.


Jeff H. Sipe

Jeff has interviewed over 1000 people in his career and previously spent five years working at Google headquarters in Silicon Valley. You likely found Jeff through YouTube and you will find the same level of dedication in his one on one practice interview sessions.

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