How to Read the Hiring Manager's Mind

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I’m always surprised to find out that candidates don’t realize that the entire job interview process involves psychology. The hiring process is based on perceptions, thoughts, and individuals’ psychology.

Every good salesperson knows that behind every sale is a problem waiting to be solved. Candidates don’t always see it like this, but job openings are very similar.

The company with a job opening has a need that must be addressed by hiring a person that can help fill that need.

The company with the job opening has a problem that needs to be solved, and they are looking for the solution to their problem.

In the end, as the candidate, you’re hoping to be the solution for that company’s needs.

Once you understand this basic tenant, the question becomes, “How can I become the solution to the company’s problems?”

This is where things get a little tricky and the candidate must position themselves to be a solution for the company’s job opening. It can be easier said than done, as most candidates that go through the pains of interviewing for many jobs, before actually getting one, can attest to. 

It all starts with the picture in peoples’ minds.

If you can read the hiring manager’s mind in the interview process, you can position yourself as the best candidate for the job.

Conscious of it or not, we all paint pictures in our minds of what an ideal person, situation, or solution is a problem we face. The same goes for hiring managers when they go to hire a new person.

The hiring manager has a painted picture or framework in his or her mind of the type of person they want to hire. As the candidate for a job opening, unlocking that framework can be the difference between getting the job and not getting the job.

From there, the question becomes, “How do I find out the picture in the hiring manager’s mind?”

There are several ways to “read the hiring manager’s mind” or unlock and acquire what the hiring manager is looking for in their ideal candidate.

It all starts with the job description.

If you carefully read the job description, it can lead clues to the types of responsibility and experience that the hiring manager is looking for in an employee for the job opening.

One tip you can use is to put the same keywords and language in your resume as are in the job description. You can also use those same words and language in your interviews.

When you do this, you are better positioning yourself.

Remember that you have to actually have that real-world experience and you must be able to articulate those same words and language in the interviews. This helps you to become seen as an ideal candidate for the job.

Another thing you must do, to understand the picture in the hiring managers’ minds, is to ask many questions during the interview.

This is an overall good strategy in an interview anyhow because you want the discussions to flow and the dialogue to be natural. You are trying to make sure you are just as much of a match for the company, as the company is a match for you.

More so, asking pointed questions and taking note of the answers the hiring managers give you is an important way to start to develop the picture of an ideal candidate in the mind of the hiring managers.

Some of the questions you can ask include:

1.      Why is this job opening available right now?

2.      What personality traits are you looking for in an ideal team member for this company / department / group?

3.      How do you envision this person working in your team?

4.      What happened to the last person that was in this position?

5.      Where does this position lead in the future?

These are just a few of the questions you can ask but there are much more when you take time to look at the job description.

Please remember to make sure these questions are asked during the flow of the interview and not all at the same time or at the end of the interview.

Lastly, the thing you can do to find out the picture in the hiring managers’ minds is to find previous employees of the company and contact them.

This must be done carefully without causing alarm. Many previous employees are still close with their previous bosses and co-workers.

When approaching and asking for information from these previous employees, you have to develop the relationship slowly, and you must show that you have good intentions and are not just fishing for perceived negatives in the situation.

It’s my advice to ask the previous employees what they liked about working at that company before you ask them about anything else.

Often, if you build the relationship carefully with the previous employee, they will offer up what they didn’t like about the company without you having to ask them.

Once you have started to get the past employee to open up to you about their experience at the company, you can ask more serious and pointed questions about the people, situations, and psychology of the people in the company.

This takes some of the risks off you but also gives you the ability to understand the type of company and people you’d be working with on a day to day basis.

Having that detailed information about the hiring managers can help you understand their mindset and, perhaps their thoughts, better.

To recap, some of the ways you can find out the picture in the hiring managers’ minds is to:

1.      Read the job description carefully

2.      Ask pertinent and important questions during the interview process

3.      Ask previous employees about their experience working with the hiring managers

Once you have a better understanding of the pictures in the hiring managers’ minds, you are better able to craft and articulate your message to the employer. In this way, you can paint the picture in the hiring managers mind on how you are the solution to their problems.

When this is done properly, patiently, and carefully, you position yourself to be the candidate that gets the offer that leads to being hired by the company.

This practice can also help you when you are starting off your new job with the company because you’ll have a better understanding of what you can do, can’t do, and shouldn’t do during your new job.

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