Hiring managers still wanted people who knew how to do the job, but we were willing to cut some corners. People could get away with behavior that was unthinkable in a candidate a few years earlier.
Slow to respond? That **might** be okay. No replies over the weekend? No problem! We love work-life balance. A disheveled appearance and lack of preparation? Hmm… maybe they just had an off day, and we'll see how the next call goes.
Now that the market in B2B technology has cooled considerably, expectations have changed. Employers can be more selective -- and love or hate it -- the power dynamic is back on their side.
We'll look at what a hiring manager is thinking about when searching for their next team member, why interviewing should be viewed as a two-way street, and what kind of preparation will go a long way in securing your next dream job.
Hiring is difficult. You're given an hour, or less, to get a feel for whether the person will get along with people in the company, knows how to do what they say they have experience doing, and understands what motivated them to apply. Finding someone who doesn't thrive on chaos is almost as important as whether they can do the work.
Hire the wrong person and your whole team is negatively impacted.
It's nearly impossible to evaluate someone quickly, particularly when the interview is taking place over video calls. And it's impossible when the person being interviewed refuses to turn on their camera and doesn't try to represent themselves professionally.
When someone accepts a job, they commit to spending more waking hours with their coworkers than their life partner. They will experience stress, life-altering changes in their personal lives, and health challenges while working. How they handle these events directly impacts the quality of life of their coworkers. We're all human, and it's normal to show emotion when facing adversity, but hiring managers are trying to screen out people who will take out their frustrations on the people around them.
Those of us hiring candidates are looking for people who will work well with others and be able to shoulder the responsibilities that come with the job. We're looking for people who will exercise healthy boundaries.
It's in our best interest to ensure the person has the experience they claim to have. If a person misrepresents their skill sets, other team members will need to take on more than their fair share of work to make up for the deficit while the new person hopefully ramps up.
Good hiring managers also commit to pouring considerable time into their new hires. They must take the time to communicate the company's expectations of its workforce and train the new hire to navigate the nuances unique to the company.
The relationship between an employee and boss should be mutually beneficial. This should commence with the hiring manager selecting someone they trust can do the job, and that new hire should expect a lot of support from their new boss. Both parties should focus on finding the right match and communicating interest and respect.
Before attending any interview, it's essential to understand what you can live with in a working environment, what you enjoy, and what you can't tolerate. You need to develop guidelines for your next position, and you'll want to also visualize an ideal environment.
Do you want to work remotely? Do you function better in an office environment? Do you need clear priorities and frequent communication? Do you prefer to work independently? How often do you want to check in with your boss? How closely do you want to work with other people on your team?
If you're early in your career, you may have to compromise. You may not get to choose whether your position is fully remote. You may also need to compromise on how much oversight your manager wants, particularly in the first few months. You may also need to negotiate your salary.
Do some self-reflection to understand what you want from a job, then research companies before applying. Glassdoor is a great resource, and so are communities and networking groups. Ask questions about the company culture, be honest about the conditions you work best in, and ask your hiring managers several questions about their management style.
With that in mind, let's discuss what resonates with interviewers and will set you up to find a job you'll enjoy.
An interview is a first impression. As a hiring manager, I want to know the person understands what the company does. I want to get questions about the environment and understand their research into the company.
Ruby Speros, Go-to-Market (GTM) Recruiter at Lyra Health, said,
"Any time that a candidate has done their due diligence in understanding a company’s value proposition as well as areas of opportunity. Asking questions about work being done towards continuous improvement shows me that a candidate is truly invested in growing alongside our organization."
Have I hired people who skipped this step? Once or twice. But it was to my detriment. These people consistently demonstrated an apathetic air and weren't very interested in staying at the company long term. I'd rather work with someone who wants to grow and learn at the company, even if that means losing them to a great opportunity 12-24 months later.
Researching a company demonstrates an interest in the job, and, right or wrong, it communicates that you're willing to put extra effort into your new position.
Hiring managers expect people to use ChatGPT to polish their resumes. We're skeptical of any statistics a candidate cites, so edit those embellishments from ChatGPT out if your references can't back them up.
Most of us have also learned that a certification isn't always proof of competency in an application or practice. We will ask questions to verify that you have the practical experience and attempt to understand the logic behind your problem-solving approach.
Don't let a line of questioning offend you if you have a certification. Some people work hard for their credentials, while others either don't retain the information after the exam or don't understand how specific actions impact the people around them. Plus, getting offended makes the interviewee look defensive and makes us question how difficult you will be to work with.
One of the best ways to understand whether a person has real-life experience with something is to hear how they've handled a scenario. For example, if I'm hiring someone to put lifecycle processes and funnel metrics in place, I'd like to hear how they've done this in the past and what kind of learnings they had.
We all expect some projects to go poorly. I see a ton of value in making a mistake if the person recognizes it was a mistake and learns how to avoid it going forward.
I get nervous when someone tells me their projects always go perfectly. Humans are flawed, and I want to see that you can navigate challenges and maintain a positive relationship with the people who work on a project with you.
I don't believe in handing out assignments to candidates. I do understand why some hiring managers insist on them. It's difficult to understand whether a person has the right level of experience if the hiring manager lacks expertise in the area they're hiring for.
Before your first interview:
On the other hand, disengage early and refuse the assignment if you've had less than stellar interactions with the hiring manager and you aren't sure if the job is exciting for you. It's better to communicate a mismatch than to flake out on an assignment. Assume it's a small world, and you'll run into those hiring managers again at a company that's a better fit. Do what you can to give them a positive impression of your capabilities.
In every job I've interviewed for, I've been asked what my biggest failure was, how I've navigated a difficult situation, or how I've learned from a mistake. I, in turn, ask the same question in interviews where I'm hiring.
Hearing how someone navigates a challenge helps me understand whether they see a road bump as an opportunity or a loss. I want to find people who are determined to find solutions and don't expect everything to go right the first time.
In operations, problem-solving is key. So often, we don't have the positional power necessary to force change. Instead, we're left to find a scrappy solution that involves selling – convincing – the people around us to adopt a new approach.
Sometimes you'll propose a solution that gets shot down. Sometimes you'll build something that doesn't get used. It's frustrating, but an opportunity to learn what needs to be done differently next time.
You'll know that references are extremely helpful if you've read our article on best practices for optimizing your LinkedIn profile. I may have reservations about a candidate based on a gut feeling I had in an interview, but if a reference gives a glowing review, I'll set it aside and rely on what someone has to say who has worked with that person for years.
It's hard to read an interviewee well. If someone who has worked with the candidate has positive things to say, it will override a lot of miscommunication that may have occurred.
When interviewing for a past position, I had been told not to go into too much detail because it shows a lack of flexibility and ability to adjust to new situations. That advice was terrible, and I had multiple follow-up interviews that involved sketching out Excel reports on a whiteboard to prove I knew how to solve the problem. They used different acronyms than my previous job, but the issues were the same.
If it hadn't been for a glowing reference, I probably wouldn't have gotten the position, even with the whiteboard sessions.
When interviewing, ensure your references are still on board to provide a reference. Directly ask your references if they'd prefer not to give a reference before you list them. Finally, if you don't get a position, ask them if your references aren't strong. It's rare, but sometimes people sabotage an interviewee's chances.
For more position-specific information, check out our blog's "Hiring" category for resume suggestions and questions that hiring managers should ask while hiring, like this article here. We hope these resources set you up for success and you know what to expect during your interview process!
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