How to Showcase What Hiring Managers Are Looking For During An Interview

by May 4, 2020Hiring Decisions0 comments

The St. Louis Business Journal recently conducted a pole and released the results in their publication. (Unfortunately, I forgot to pull the publication date for reference)
Most readers of the Business Journal tend to be business leaders so often the pole questions can provide insight to how leaders and decision makers think.

They Asked – What’s most important to you in your hiring decisions?

44% – Attitude
30% – Work Ethic
16% – Skill Set
7% – Growth Potential
2% – Strong References
1% – Salary Requirement

I provided you the entire results, but for this discussion, only the top 3 are relevant.

When I coach individuals on finding their best career path, I often hear them throw up the concern that they do not have the skill set or degree for what they would actually like to pursue.  This holds them back from even trying as they feel they are automatically disqualified.  Truth is, skill-set matters, but that can also be trained and learned over time.  Often the important items like attitude and work ethic are behaviors that are often based on our root personality and our life upbringing.  It is much harder to help improves someone’s attitude then it is to teach someone a particular skill.  Point is, stop letting this be a limiting factor in pursuing a dream career.  You can learn from books, magazines, online resources, and on the job.  Just go for it and watch the opportunities unfold.

With all that said, some may ask how can I, a job seeker, really show things like my attitude and work-ethic?  How can’t he hiring manager judge that off a resume or even a short interview?  Here are some tips on how you can stand above the rest next time you are seeking to win the job.


Like it or not, the decision on your attitude is made in the first 5 to 10 seconds of meeting you.  It all has to do with how you present yourself at the greeting.  Nail these key components and you will demonstrate the attitude these hiring managers are looking for.

  • Dress for success – I’m not saying you have to wear a business suit, but it is always wise to dress one level above the company or industry culture your working to get into. Of greater importance, make sure you clothes are clean, fresh, and wrinkle free.  This signals that you care about yourself.  If you care about yourself, the hiring manager will believe you will care about the company.
  • Smile – Smiling is the greatest attractor. We humans are naturally drawn to and like people that smile a lot.  We assume that people who smile are happy.  Hiring managers assume the happy person in life will also be happy at work.  Happy people typically do not drag the work environment down into negativity.
  • Posture – Your posture is a great indicator of your personal confidence. Standing or sitting up straight, keeping your shoulders back (not slumped),  and keeping your arms at your sides without hiding your hands will show that you are both confident and open to advice.
  • Firm Handshake – much like posture, the handshake immediately tells the hiring manager a bit about your personal confidence, but even more importantly the level of interest you have in them. A firm shake says you are happy to see them and interested in the time.  A weak or limp handshake can communicate that you wish you were not there.

Work Ethic

Work Ethic is much harder to demonstrate in a resume or even the interview.  You demonstrate your work ethic before and after the interview.  Follow these few tips and you will effectively demonstrate that you are willing to outwork your competition.

  • Pre-Interview – Most job seekers will take the easy (although actually harder) way out to find a job. They happily sit at home and send the same resume to online job postings hoping for the best.  The successful job seekers will actually work early to make connections with leaders at the companies or industries they would like to work in.  They are willing to try and track down the hiring manager to have a short phone call, maybe just to ask advice on how to stand out from the crowd.  Some will say this is breaking the rules, but breaking the rules shows the hiring managers you are willing to work for both this job and that you will work hard after you are hired.
  • Interview – Performing research on the company, role, and even the managers performing the interview so that you can craft solid questions in this interview. Most job seekers are happy to just answer the questions asked of them, but the winners understand that the hiring manager really desires to have insightful questions asked of them.  This is just another signal that you are willing to work harder then your competition.
  • Post Interview – The very first thing you should do after an interview is stop by the store and pick up a thank you card. Write a personal note and specifically call out a moment in the interview that you appreciated.  Maybe they offered you some advice, thank them for that.  Then drop it off at the post office.  Most of your competition will either choose to do nothing or default to an email.  Both come off as lazy and the hand-written note shows your willing to go above and beyond.  Additionally, many are scared to follow-up on the interview to see where the hiring manager stands with the decision.  Your follow-up will not be viewed as intrusive, rather it will show that you are interested and willing to work hard to get what you desire.

Skill Set

So if you have been in a field for a while, your resume will naturally demonstrate your skill set in a particular field.  If you are trying to transition to a new industry or line of work, this can be harder to demonstrate, but not impossible.  The key here is to do your homework and invest in your own personal and professional growth continually.  With Amazon, YouTube, and Google, there is no topic that you cannot learn about before an interview.  Performing this homework can show that you know much about the topic even if your work experience does not demonstrate it.  Believe it or not, your wisdom without work experience may rate higher in their mind as they will see they have someone passionate about the role or subject and not just someone that has been putting in time at another job.  You can take this one step further by writing and posting articles about your learnings and opinions on the topic and this will help them perceive you as a bit of an expert on the topic.  LinkedIn is an easy tool for networking and sharing your expertise with others by posting blogs there.  If this seems like to much, you can simply share relevant articles, but make sure you comment on that article in your share so they can see your mindset.

If your attitude, work ethic, and skill set are 90% of the decision criteria, putting these tips to work should put you in the forefront of landing your next dream job.


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