Job seekers

A hiring manager’s pep talk to job seekers | Casandre Reid

To hirePhoto by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

You may have heard all of this before.

The don’ts and the do’s to ensure you’ll be successful in that job interview.

However, there is more to learn about what hiring managers expect of you as a candidate, which will increase your chances of being selected.

One difference from today’s lesson (indoctrination for some) is that I share from first-hand experience what hiring managers like me expect of you, an interview candidate.

You, dear candidate, are empowered to improve your chances of being selected.

1. Be on time for your interview

Recently, I chaired a virtual interview panel and reached out to a candidate within minutes of waiting for her to log on. She informed me that she thought her interview was the next day and she didn’t have time.

She was more than late. Instead, she didn’t casually show off.

Earlier in my career, I had a unique encounter and experienced not being on time for an interview.

I was in a (everyday) storm, followed by taking the wrong exit to a destination I had never been to. I became disoriented when I got lost and had no idea where I was going.

Also, I was pissed realizing that I was going to be late.

However, the panel was very understanding and said they were giving each contestant extra time due to the storm.

Altogether I was kicked out for my interview that morning and felt I should have taken a cue from the storm I woke up to that day.

We all know that life happens and the universe can conspire against you on the day of your interview.

Big emergencies?

We understand. In such cases, prioritize yourself and think about that potential employer another time.

However, a random accidental search for your “lucky shoe” or socks that “Fido” or “Fluffy” hid the night before won’t hold up. If so, contact your service contact about your schedule changes and availability.

It’s the most uncivil gesture you can make right now.

Communicating changes in your availability demonstrates your professionalism and respect for your time and your interviewer.

2. Use your time effectively to answer each interview question

Once, I asked a candidate to finish her interview in a record time of 9 minutes.

She was scheduled for a 30-minute interview.

What did we think of this situation?

As a panel, we appreciated the 21 minutes added to our day. We were too shocked by what we had just experienced to have a reasonable discussion.

She self-eliminated.

There are ways to stand out and be memorable, but this is not one of them.

You may or may not have a lot to say, but it’s to your credit if you have “enough” to say. Don’t let the interview committee assume and fill in the gaps.

Instead, think about the questions you are being asked and do your best to get an answer.

Remember that an employer has invited you for an interview because they want to interact with you. They want to hear you present and share your qualifications and experience.

A CV says so much and so little at the same time. There’s a reason why interviews still have a place in the hiring process.

At the very least, give the interview panel something to evaluate.

Your answers should be enough to keep the panel intrigued and provide additional information to help the hiring manager decide on your candidacy.

Don’t eliminate yourself from the competition.

After all, it is one of the panel’s roles to carefully assess your answers and overall qualifications.

3. Be authentic

We have already encountered your paper version in the form of your CV.

When you arrive for your interview, don’t be misleading and think the panel can’t tell when you’re not being honest with us.

Beware of the temptation to fake an interview while expecting a real paycheck.

Please don’t.

As seasoned interviewers, hiring managers have faced the shenanigans of many candidates and exaggerated their experiences.

Suppose an employer hires you on the pretext that you are the best candidate for a job for which you are not qualified.

In that case, you’ll either have to learn this job quickly and deliver inflated results, or risk being fired before you even have time to earn that first paycheck every two weeks.

We really want to get to know you when we meet you in person or call to interview you.

We would have seen your CV and would like to have a conversation with the authentic, live version of yourself at this point in the process.

And it would help if you also wanted to know potential employers. An interview is not a one-and-done. It’s an opening for the start of what should be a genuine relationship with a potential employer.

An interview is a learning session. A version of speed dating, as some might call it.

Trust me on this; you want to take the opportunity to know potential employers as much as they want to know you.

Talk to us and be genuine and honest about what you know and don’t know.

Pro Tip: If there is something you don’t know, say so but also reassure the panel that you have the aptitude and attitude to learn what you need to learn fast.

Hiring managers value authenticity above inflated egos.

4. Relax. Investigators are human too.

You may find it hard to believe, but the interviewer(s) sitting across from you or on the other side of your computer screen have no more power than you give them.

When I transitioned from candidate to interviewer, this realization was liberating and enlightening. I felt a greater compassion for the candidates, having already been in their place.

I often wish I could console and give candidates pep talks before their interviews. In truth, an interview is really not life threatening.

Remember that you have nothing to lose anyway.

You can’t lose what you didn’t have.

And since you didn’t make it to the interview with that “particular” job, leaving without that job isn’t the biggest loss of your life.

Try not to get too stressed and nervous about an interview and the risk of not getting an offer.

You have a short amount of time to demonstrate to the interviewer that you are the right person for the organization. Please note that organizational fit is different and often more critical than your qualification and experience.

Experience can be gained. Education can be obtained. But you’re either a perfect fit for an organization’s culture or you’re not. Either you embrace and support their mission and vision, or you don’t.

Remember that being the most qualified and experienced candidate does not always mean getting the job.

Beyond what’s on your resume, employers are looking for more than technical skills. They also assess how you function and manage under pressure, and what better place to test those skills than in the hot seat of an interview?


You are going to be ok with or without this job. Let your confidence and self-assurance do the most remarkable work.

5. Be professional when following up after your interview

When it comes to interviews, there is a fine line between enthusiasm and desperation. Don’t argue your case about why they should hire you.

If a hiring manager or recruiter is impressed with what they’ve seen and read about you, you’ll be among the first to know.

Once you’ve done your part, give the team time to review the results and reconnect. Depending on the pool of applicants and the position they are filling, the review process may take some time.

It is while waiting to know the results of your interview that you should shine by the virtue of patience.

Avoid sitting by the phone, refreshing your email and, even worse, calling the panel repeatedly to find out if they selected you. Again, a hiring manager who wants to hire you will let you know.

Continue your job search until you have a reason to do otherwise.

final thought

For those of us looking for a job or hiring others, we can attest that finding a job is a complicated process.

Nevertheless, employment has been a wheel that has been turning for years and will continue to turn for the foreseeable future.

As you continue to pursue opportunities, do for yourself what only you can do best – set yourself apart from the competition by following the friendly guidelines above.

Your hiring manager will thank you and possibly reward you with an offer.