What do recruiters and hiring managers really want to hear from you during an interview? If you're mid-job search and are honest, you can admit that you've pondered this question. After all, searching for a job can sometimes feel like an audition for America's Got Talent. However, interviewing for your next job will not require you to sing, dance or perform magic tricks. It will require you to prepare and go in with your eyes open.
To get you ready for any interview, here are five qualities and characteristics that recruiters and career experts tell us they want to see in you. As you're fine-tuning your interview answers and ironing your best suit, reflect on these key traits that interviewers want to see most.
1. Communication of Motivations and Preferences
Recruiters are on the hunt for quality candidates that are a fit with their culture. In this job market, it pays to be forthcoming about your motivations, expectations and work-life preferences such as how far you’re willing to commute or being interested in flexible work options. So don’t be surprised if hiring managers or recruiters ask questions like “Why are you looking for a new career opportunity?” and “How far will you commute? Do you prefer urban, suburban, or rural?”
2. Confidence in Skill and Experience
Hiring managers are eager to extract a candidate’s knowledge, experience, skills and abilities, in order to follow a common thread that weaves through all of your work experience. Therefore, you can present a strong hiring case by being able to describe the details about your biggest career accomplishments and contributions.
Preparing anecdotes and succinct examples of your impact will leave a positive impression on anyone who you may interview with. You should be able to illustrate, through specific examples, your ability to make the department or organization better than when they arrived. Did you streamline a process or reduce cost? Did you lead a team to quantifiable success?
“People contributing to the success of an organization is why we hire, retain and promote,” says Bill McCabe, recruitment Leader, Polyglass USA. “A candidate should be able to articulate simply how they moved the needle in a positive direction in an organization.”
Share specific details on projects assigned, obstacles faced, etc., including the actions you took and the end result.
3. Preparation for Proceeding Further in the Process
According to Glassdoor research, the average length of job interview processes is 23.8 days. However, some industries are able to screen candidates quickly, while others rely on more lengthy and intense interview processes. Therefore, recruiters are looking for candidates who are prepared to efficiently move through the hiring and interview process.
Having a current overview of meaningful references is advised in order to keep the process chugging along. In today’s digital world, and with ongoing work-life mobility, having current email addresses – even LinkedIn URLs and other modes of connecting with references – is advisable.
Also, be prepared to discuss salary expectations at any time. Using a tool like Know Your Worth, will allow you to remain informed and ready to negotiate at a moment’s notice. This also will enable the recruiter to properly match you with the right hiring company prospects, decreasing chances of either party being blindsided and to maximize everyone’s time.
4. Be Honest and Reflective about Professional Failures or Shortcomings to Show How You’ve Grown
A common interview question for hiring managers to ask in advanced stages of the process is “What was your biggest failure?” Successfully tackling this question and those like it shows that you are able to reflect honestly about where you struggle professionally.
To answer, be honest with yourself about your professional areas of challenge. Self-awareness is a soft skill, and these skills are increasingly in demand in the workplace.
Next, share with the interviewer how you’ve addressed the weakness or failure. Perhaps you owned the shortcoming right away, then you created a plan to avoid the issues as they occurred and recalibrate the scope along the way. Alternatively, perhaps you’ve attended a training course or worked with a mentor following the failure. Mention the steps you’ve taken. Identifying and addressing an area of challenge demonstrates growth and maturity.
To complete the narrative, don’t cast blame on others or get easily agitated when discussing. “We all fail sometimes. HOW we fail now proves how successful we can be in the future,” explains McCabe.
5. Be Transparent About What It Will Take to Poach You
Thanks to a low unemployment rate, recruiters are poaching currently-employed people, left and right. In order to attract candidates, recruiters have to inspire you to hear them out, and often times that inspiration comes in the form of an attractive salary.
If a recruiter is trying to tempt you with an opportunity, it’s important to communicate with the company in a respectful, professional way. Be straightforward about what it would take to lure you away from your current job: a higher salary, access to an onsite gym, access to education and training, flexible work schedule, etc.
It’s a job seeker’s market, so be honest and open to the offer that the interested company comes back with. You may be surprised to see a recruiter “show you the money”. Regardless of the offer and whether you are interested in being poached or not, positive communication is critical for maintaining a strong reputation.
Reporting by Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter.