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How to Prepare for a Hiring Manager Interview, Part 2: Their Needs

interview tips Jul 15, 2021

In our previous article, we talked about the basics of preparing for a hiring manager interview. If you haven’t read it yet, please check out Part 1 before continuing with this article.

Today, we want to shift the focus and talk about the hiring manager’s needs. They have a job to do, and they are working hard to find the best candidate. This is something you must understand and respect going into the interview process. Acknowledging the goals of the hiring manager can give you a significant advantage as a candidate.


Let’s look at 7 key issues to help you with your hiring manager interview preparation:

Item #8 – Culture Fit

The interview is about more than just deciding if your skills align with the position. Another big question running through the mind of the hiring manager is “Will I like working with this person?” They want to know if you are a good fit for the team and for the organization. Will you fit the company’s culture as well as you fit the job description itself? If it is close between you and another candidate, the hiring manager will always pick the person that is a better culture fit.

Item #9 – Interest

If you display a lack of enthusiasm or interest, it is an interview killer. It’s not always easy to get excited for an interview. I understand it can be a grueling process to find a good job. Still, you must show your interest in the job and in the company. It all starts with a positive attitude and then you must stay actively engaged throughout the interview. Listen carefully to the questions being asked, ask compelling questions of your own and have an upbeat dialogue. Show how much you want the job. Just be careful not to go too overboard with enthusiasm!

Item #10 – Honesty

This seems like a pretty straightforward interviewing tip, but it is worth highlighting. Hiring managers look for honesty. Don’t make up stories or exaggerate details. Show that you can be vulnerable and have learned from any mistakes. Keep your focus on the positive and be honest with your answers. Remember, not every situation works out perfectly and presenting only examples that have perfect endings can make you less likable or relatable. 

Item #11 – Learning Mindset

You must show that you have learned from your past experiences and that you are willing and able to keep learning in your new position. This comes in two facets:

  1. Always focus on what you learned, even if it was a tough experience. Remember there is always a silver lining. Find it, highlight it and back it up with a time you applied what you learned.
  2. Be a continual learner. Show that you are constantly learning and growing. Talk about your interest in expanding your skills and knowledge.

Item #12 – Proactivity

One of the key items hiring managers look for is examples that demonstrate proactivity. They want to trust you to get the work done when the ball is in your court, which allows them to focus on more strategic issues. Identify and share examples of times when you had to be extremely proactive. This may include work outside your primary job duties to support your team and help drive the business forward. When providing open-ended answers, implement and explain areas where you can be proactive.

Item #13 – Problem Solving

This is similar to proactivity. You want to demonstrate that you are good at problem solving and troubleshooting. This is where understanding the job description can make a difference, along with the items discussed in Part 1 of this article. This is particularly important when answering open-ended questions. Remember to clarify, present a clear framework, create assumptions that you are likely to face in the role, and get into the weeds in your solution. Don’t stay too high-level. Also, share examples of where your problem solving was on display and show how your skills match with the challenges you will likely face in this position.  

Item #14 – Soft Edges

This is an item that we frequently discuss with our clients during their practice interview sessions. Remember that all your interview answers and examples should have “soft edges.” Hiring managers don’t want to hear anything that creates spikes or raises red flags. Avoid using negative words or talking negatively about a past manager or coworker. Don’t ever make excuses. Lastly, make sure you are always respectful and speak with an inclusive tone and lens. 

These tips, when combined with the items in Part 1, should help you create better interview habits and help you properly prepare to meet with the hiring manager. Next week in Part 3, we will focus more on the hiring manager pro tips. This includes topics like slowing down and how to take calculated risks. Stay tuned! 

You can also watch the full video on this subject here:

To learn more about Practice Interviews and our interview coaching services, contact us today. Also, be sure and check out our YouTube channel for more great interview tips and resources.

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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