Five Things Your Hiring Manager May Be Thinking But Will Never Disclose

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What is that hiring manager thinking while you’re sitting there during an interview? The answers might surprise you—and should help you in your job search.

Staffing specialist Robert Half International’s OfficeTeam unit for North America came up with five little known facts about hiring managers and what they might be thinking in secret during an interview. One of the things that can throw you if you’re not aware of what’s happening: Interviewers may intentionally try and make you uncomfortable.

“Many times they want to see how you react under pressure and how you think on your feet,” Anaar Dewjee, division director of staffing firm Robert Half International’s OfficeTeam unit in Toronto, told eFinancialCareers.

Don't Rush to Say Something

That’s why it's important not to rush to say something every time there’s a lull in the conversation. Hiring managers hope that if they keep you talking, you’ll reveal more of yourself, OfficeTeam says. They may also throw curveball questions to see how you react and to learn about how you think. If there are pauses between interview questions, that’s OK, says Dewjee. “It's imporant to think before you speak,” she says. “You want to show you take time to register what’s happening and think things through before you respond.”

Be Nice to the Assistant

Also, OfficeTeam found, it is very common for a hiring manager to inquire with the assistant who greeted you when you first came into the office as to what he or she thought of your manner and communications skills, says Dewjee. Six in 10 executives surveyed by OfficeTeam in the U.S. said they consider their assistants' opinions important when evaluating new hires. The figure was even higher in Canada.

What that means is if you don’t deal with the office assistant courteously and professionally, you’re in big trouble. “You always need to be able to interact with different levels of employees as well as employers,” says Dewjee. It’s not always apparent to job candidates that first impressions are that big of a deal.

Some of the other findings may be more obvious. These are the five things many hiring managers may be thinking—but won’t tell you—during your job interview, and how you can use such information to your advantage:

  • “I haven’t prepared for this. I’m winging it.” No matter how long you spent preparing and doctoring up your resume for the employer, there’s a good chance the hiring manager doesn’t remember exactly what’s on it. That’s why you should always have an extra copy or two of your resume on hand, and be prepared to walk the potential employer through what you consider the highlights.

  • “I can’t stand phonies.” Never, ever, tell the interviewer your greatest weakness is that you work too hard or are too much of a perfectionist. Come to the interview with several job-related anecdotes in mind that reveal the real you and speak to how your specific talents can help the business. Don’t be afraid to show some personality.

  • I love talking about myself and my company.” Interviewers are usually advised to let the candidate do most of the talking. But hiring managers are only human and enjoy discussing things they are passionate about, including their careers and interests. If that seems to be the case, asking the prospective employer about his or her professional advancement within the company can actually yield valuable information about your growth potential at the firm. You don’t have to wait until the end of the interview to ask questions.

  • “I may go out of my way to make you uncomfortable.’” Hiring managers hope that if they keep you talking, you’ll reveal more of yourself.  So be careful to keep your responses concise and on point. Don’t be afraid to stop to collect your ideas before speaking. Pauses in a conversation can be much more valuable than thoughtless chatter.

  • "I’ll be quizzing my assistant about you.” Nearly seven in 10 (69 percent) of Canadian executives OfficeTeam surveyed and 60 percemt of U.S. executives the organization polled said they consider their assistants’ opinions important when evaluating new hires. Make sure you treat everyone you meet with respect when you arrive for an interview. If the administrative professional isn’t busy, it’s fine to make a bit of polite small talk while you wait. Clearly, you want to avoid loud cell phone conversations (or any cell phone conversations, really) and be on the lookout for other annoying behavior on your part while you’re waiting for your interview.

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