The question is, what is going to influence a hiring manager to actually hire someone? You need to be able to answer this question – in generally, and hopefully specifically as it relates to the hiring manager who is interviewing you.
Last week I wrote The underqualified candidate, which I’ve had on my mind for quite a while. One of my points was, are we shooting too high, and therefore missing everything we are shooting for? I was shooting too high (GM, VP, CIO) and too low (business analyst, project manager), and wasn’t getting any interviews. I didn’t take a proper inventory of my skills, which led to a long, dreadful job search.
In the comments Emily makes some strong points – I’ll respond over there in the comments when I’m done with this post, but let me share some reasons why I hired people:
To get the job done. I’ve heard that people only hire for two reasons – two make the company money, or to save the company money. When I was interviewing people I didn’t have that in mind – I had a good idea of the job I was hiring for (usually they were new positions, so I had created the job descriptions and had the end goals in mind – usually operational). Perhaps make/save money is a good definition for C-level job seekers, but at the level I was hiring I had very defined roles and knew what they should be able to do.
To make me look good. I quickly learned I would go to management meetings and get feedback on my hiring decisions. Sometimes it was really positive, sometimes it was negative, sometimes it was petty – but it always came from my peers or from executives in the company. I want you to make me look good, which shows that I can make good decisions. Screw it up and I look bad. I’m trying to figure out, in the interview and resume, how to make sure I don’t look like a dolt for a bad hiring decision.
To test people out. In that post Emily reiterates that I was hiring interns. Guess what – I call hiring interns a “try before you buy” opportunity. I could hire you for a semester and see if you really were as good as you seemed to be. If you were, I’d extend it or offer you somethign permanent. If you didn’t work out (your work wasn’t up to speed, you didn’t know how to communicate with others, or you simply didn’t fit in) we could easily part ways. Don’t think for a second that people aren’t evaluating you ALL THE TIME, even after you land that job (whether it’s an internship or a C-level position).
To get rid of a headache. I don’t want to add more expenses on my payroll if I don’t have to – when I finally do it it’s because I can’t stand a certain headache anymore. I want you to come in and be (as a professor once told me high speed, low drag (meaning, get the job done well and quickly, and be very little overhead for me).
To create opportunity. This goes back to the “make money” thing I mentioned earlier. One hire I couldn’t make but really wanted to was an older sales professional – a rainmaker. I really wanted to hire him to bring in extra revenue… but the board didn’t approve it. Bad, bad decision on their part. If I could have I would have hired him so fast.
There are other reasons why people hire…. you need to ask yourself: what are you bringing to the table? In order to know if that’s valuable or not, you need to know why the hiring manager across the table from you is wanting to hire someone.