Confessions of an Entry-Level Hiring Manager

I have some confessions to make.

I’m a Hiring Manager.

I can hire you.

But I can also decide not to hire you.

And for every person I hire, twenty hopeful contenders are left by the wayside. You need to understand that the job search process is not designed for your benefit–it benefits me and my company. But you still have to work within that process.

We’re very picky about whom we eventually hire. We are making an extremely large investment in our entry-level training and want to make sure we hire only the best.

And there are certain things that I do to weed out and exclude those who don’t fit our precise criteria. This is my public confession.

We were at your campus, but you might not have even known we were there. We always ask for “closed interviews” when we come to campus, which means that we preselect who we meet with.

How do we decide who to meet with?

We talk to your professors.

Remember that professor in your major that you couldn’t stand, but you had to take two classes with to graduate?

Well, you were not on his list of top students when I spoke with him. We also reviewed the booklet of resumes that the Career Placement Center provided to us, but since you never got your resume to them, you weren’t in the booklet.

We found several more there who rounded out our campus schedule.

Good resumes.

Good grades.

Good experience.

Sure, there are some schools that require us to conduct at least AB of our interviews as “open slots.” We’ll meet with you. But if you have less than a 3.0 GPA, we will not even consider you. If you lack any tangible work experience or significant class project experience, you’re out.

When I meet with you in the waiting room for our on-campus meeting, I’m looking for one thing: a great attitude. If you don’t have the attitude, nothing else matters. Grades, experience, extracurriculars, nothing else can make up for a lacking in the attitude category.

It’s what I will judge you on most quickly. And it’s what you need to establish firmly and strongly in the first few minutes of the interview. In fact, if you’re good, you’ll probably establish it during our walk back to our interview location. Ah, yes, that silent walk. I probably won’t say much as we walk back.

I’ll give you a quick opener, such as “I appreciate you taking the time to meet with me today” just to see where you’ll take it. A cocky, “No problemo!” response won’t score any points with me. “The pleasure is mine. In fact, I’ve really been looking forward to meeting with you after reading your company’s annual report. Very impressive!” Very impressive indeed. Points scored and tallied. You have just taken the early lead.

When we get back to our interview location, I need to spend a concentrated twenty to thirty minutes toward one simple objective: deciding if this is someone who we would have an interest in potentially hiring. Someone we are interested in enough to consider bringing back to our company site for final interviews. I’ll look for your eye contact. Your body language. Your expressions. And all the non-verbals that communicate far above what you are actually speaking.

Are you confident in yourself?

Are you able to communicate at a professional level?

Are you a winner? Or a loser?

I’ll ask you questions that are designed to put you at ease, to help break down the artificial barrier that often exists. I want you to be comfortable, but not too comfortable. I need to get through to the real you. If I feel you’re just putting on a show, that I can’t get through the outer veneer, you won’t make it to the next step. I want to know who you really are. I’ll do it by asking a series of structured “closed/open questions,” such as: “Are you a creative person?” (Almost everyone answers “Yes”), then asking, “In what way?” or “Can you give me some specific examples of personal creativity?”

This is where the actors stumble and fall. At the end of the interview, I score you on the A-S-P scale: Appearance, Skills, and Personality. You have to rank a 1 or 2 in each category (you’ll be ranked on a scale of 5, 1 being top 10%, 2 being next 20%, 3 being the middle 40%, 4 being the next 20% and 5 being the bottom 10%). If I’m interested in you, I will offer you my card, our company annual report, and further information about our entry level training program. You won’t even have to ask for it.

At the end of the day, I’ll review my notes and decide which students (if any) to bring back to the company for further interviews. Usually, it’s only one or two out of an on-campus schedule of ten to fifteen. Sometimes it’s more, but sometimes no one from that college makes the cut. I will personally call those I am interested in to make the arrangements, including setting up the airfare, car rental, and hotel.

The rejects will get a “Dear John/Jane” letter with my digitized computer-generated signature. There are just too many to personally sign. Plus, it’s not a very enjoyable activity to send out letters telling people they failed.

Article by Brian D. Krueger, CPC, author of College Grad Job Hunter (Quantum Leap Publishing)


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