4 Secrets of Hiring Managers

hiring_manager_secrets_webGetting an interview is a great first step to landing a job. But, how do you ensure you’re a top pick for the position when you meet face-to-face with the hiring manager? We asked four hiring professionals from Express Employment Professionals to share their secrets from the initial phone call to the follow-up in order to help you stand out in your next interview.

Secret #1: The first impression is hard to change.
You only get one chance to make a first impression. Sometimes that first impression may be through a phone call or email, so don’t forget to act professional in non-face-to-face interactions. “A candidate who responds quickly and has a professional demeanor over the phone, in email, or on my voicemail is someone who usually excels in person,” said Lee Wenninger, owner of the Fishers, IN Express office.

Lauren Chandler, a recruiter at the Howell, MI Express office, agrees. “Did the person arrive on time, call back when they were supposed to, or follow up when they should have? This could be a big indicator of whether or not they will be a dependable employee,” she said. “They’re basically on an audition with us, and they have to pass our audition to get to the next one.”

If your first impression happens to be during an interview, be as professional as possible. Here are a few things Joe Paquette, a consultant at Express, looks for in an ideal candidate:

And, don’t forget to be respectful to the company’s receptionist or anyone you come in contact with. “I always ask staff members how they were treated by someone who is applying internally,” Joe said.

Secret #2: The reason you’re looking for a job matters to employers.

Before your interview, you may want to ask yourself why you’re looking for a job. For many jobseekers, finding a job is essential because they aren’t currently working. But, if you’re looking for a job due to other reasons, be honest about why you’re searching. If you indicate on your resume that you’re “looking for additional opportunities,” some hiring managers might see this as a disguise for more serious reasons, like challenges or issues working with a team member or manager.

“I dive into past work history to look for patterns,” Joe said. “I ask the candidate what they think their previous or current supervisor would say about them personally, and I follow up with that supervisor to see if their thoughts are the same.”

If you’re looking for a new job due to challenges in your current one, turn it into a positive. Emphasize how your past experiences have prepped you to become successful in the role you’re interviewing for and give helpful examples.

Secret #3: Asking questions shows interest in the job.

If you land an interview, be prepared to not only answer questions, but to ask some of your own as well. According to Joe, asking questions throughout the interview process shows that you’re interested in the position and driven to succeed. To get ahead of the game on this hiring manager secret, remember to:

  • Research the company you’re applying for and make a note of important information, like the date they were founded, the name of the CEO, and the company’s core values.
  • If you’re given the name of your interviewer beforehand, research them as well. Find out about their educational background and interests in case you can use them in the conversation.
  • Develop a list of questions you may have about the company, the role you’re interviewing for, or the hiring process.

Showing interest in the job or company you’re applying for goes a long way, according to Carrie Smith, a recruiter for the Howell, MI Express office. “If they seem uninterested in the opportunity to be here, I find myself being uninterested in them as well.”

And, when you’re answering a question, try not to talk forever. “Nothing takes you out of the top category quicker than not being able to get to the point. Answer the question, then elaborate if needed,” Lauren said.

Secret #4: A follow-up note is very important.

Following up after an interview is important to hiring managers. Send an email or letter after your interview to say thanks and provide any details you may have forgotten during the interview. And, don’t forget to emphasize your interest in the position. If you don’t have the email address for your interviewer, do some research to find their contact information or call the company and ask for it.

If your interviewer gives you something to do after the interview, like performing a test or providing a sample of your work, do it. And, do it quickly. According to Joe, giving an interviewee a task lets hiring managers see how much time, effort, and thought the candidate puts into that task and if they are someone who can take direction. If you don’t complete the work you’re given, it could put the brakes on your interview process.

“I run from someone who doesn’t complete the task or sends me something without a lot of thought put into it,” Joe said. “It’s fine not to understand the task, but someone who is serious about the job will follow up to get more details if they’re stuck.”

How do you ensure you’re a top pick during an interview? Share with us in the comments section below.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.


  1. Green

    I always have second thoughts when answering the question, “May we contact your current employer.” Not because I have anything to hide, but because my employer isn’t aware that I am seeking other employment, or even a second job which they may not agree with. Please advise.
    Thank you.

    1. Movin' On Up

      Thanks for reaching out, Green. Joe Paquette, one of the consultants who shared his secrets for this article, offered the following advice:

      “It’s always a great idea to prep anyone whose contact information might be shared during your search. For past supervisors and co-workers, give them a heads up. This is also a great time to get updated information from them, like their contact info and job title. While you’re at it, see if they know anyone who’s hiring!

      The important thing in this situation is to note the reason you’re omitting the information is because you’re currently working there. Do you have a trusted co-worker within the organization that you would trust to verify information regarding your current employment? If so, consider giving an interviewer that contact information instead.”

      Typically, interviewers don’t generally call current employers for references. But, it’s a good idea to tell your interviewer that you’d like them not to call. And, if you do leave your current employer’s information off your resume, let your interviewer know that you left it off for a reason.

      We hope this helps with your job search! And, for tips on making sure your reference list is up to date, check out this Movin’ On Up article.

  2. Michael

    I believe what you are saying here and one question comes to mind is it ok to ask for the persons e-mail or contact info ? So you can send them a thank you note and further qualifications you may have left out of the interview . I get nervous at interviews how do you overcome this nervous feeling? thank you for listening to me Michael Ellington.

    1. Movin' On Up

      Michael, thanks for reaching out. You can definitely ask for contact information during your interview. Just let the interviewer know that you’d like to be able to reach him or her in case you think of any additional information or would like to expand upon and reinforce your strengths. As for getting nervous during interviews, that’s a very common feeling. The best way to avoid feeling nervous is by making sure you’re as prepared as possible before your interview. We have several articles to help you prepare right here on Movin’ On Up! To read about four things to do the night before an interview, click here. For information on how smartphone and tablet applications can help you prepare, click here. And, for even more helpful interview tips, click here. We hope this helps in your job search!

  3. jp

    Is this for federal jobs only? It might be different state to state, but I’m pretty sure legally…..your only allowed to ask former employers whether so and so was employed there and for how long, anything more than that can spell trouble for either party. If this is the case, why would someone confess to not getting along with a former boss or making a serious mistake at his last job? Federal jobs and required background investigations are a different story, but normal civilian jobs, I don’t think so. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    1. Movin' On Up

      Thanks for your input, JP! When providing an employment reference, it’s legal to give factual information about previous employees. If a previous employer gives a false reference out of malice, the burden usually falls to the employee to provide proof. To avoid claims of defamation and to restrict giving out any confidential or protected information, many companies create strict policies about providing references. Some companies will only share basic information, like length of employment and position(s) held. All employers should be careful that any information they choose to provide is factual and well documented and that they have a signed release from the employee to provide a reference. Since the information shared from company to company varies, however, it’s generally unknown what a potential employer may be able to learn through a reference.

  4. Marg S

    Sounds like good advice. My problem: Recently completed a medical progam approved by the certification organization. Now, I must prepare for their certification exam, but i would like to work first. It is not impossible, but It is going to be difficult landing a position without an externship/internship./certification. Am willing to relocate; do you have any reasonable suggestions without going over board (understand)? Must support my household–pay expenses. At this time, am not working in the medical field. Everyone has fantastic suggestions–nuts and bolts–they are not always realistic for one’s life.

    1. Movin' On Up

      Marg, thanks for sharing your story. Another reader, Kris, offered some helpful advice below and we agree! Also, finding an internship is a great way to gain experience. Employers aren’t necessarily looking for skills, but for experience that compliments skills. And, internships are a great way to gain that experience. For more information about internships, check out this Movin’ On Up post.

      Another way you can help find work that fits your schedule and interests is by checking your local Express Employment Professionals office. Our offices often have jobs in the medical field, so give them a call today. For a list of locations, click here.

  5. Kris

    @ Marg S

    I tend to see a lot of medical position where you don’t have to be certified (ex. Medical Assistant). You should redo your résumé to display some of the key skills you learned in the program that compliments whatever job your seeking. That way those keywords are picked up with many of companies around job search software. Also, it doesn’t hurt to look at the medical facilities in your area do a little networking, or head to the facilities HR dept. Maybe seeing you in person can see your determination.

  6. Terilee

    While I think all the above advice to the job candidate is good advice, I’d like to comment on the expectations that the candidate “be on time, call back when they’re supposed to, etc”.

    The same professional ettiquette applies (if not more) to the Employer. Return calls, acknowledge reciept of information/ resume’/ etc requested. There’s n/ interviewer.
    There’s nothing worse than being met with “dead silence” on the part of the employer when a sincere & serious professional applicant is outright ignored. THIS is extrememly unprofessional and a candidate should seriously weigh if this behavior / treatment is a preview of coming attractions if hired.

    Professional courtesy plays both ways.

    1. Movin' On Up

      Thanks, Terilee. We agree with you that both parties in an interview process need to be courteous. Professionalism goes both ways, so it’s important to do some research on the potential employer before going to an interview.

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