When you send your resume or attend an interview for a job, your sole intent is to get that job. But, from the perspective of the hiring managers, they are looking for the best candidate among the pool of applicants who they believe can do the task. So the candidates need to know what the hiring managers look for.
According to recent statistics, only 2–3% of sent resumes result in an interview, and the average time spent on a resume in 2022 was 6–7 seconds. Also, 75% of companies used ATS, an applicant tracking system that automatically screens and filters candidates. Applications filtered by ATS are directly sent to trash and never reach a human being.
Read our step-by-step guide on How to Create an ATS-Friendly Resume.
The above statistics are not meant to demotivate you but to inform you of how things are happening in reality so that you can prepare your resume and job interview better.
Landing a job takes more than just submitting a resume or acing an interview. To truly stand out, you need to understand what hiring managers are looking for in candidates and tailor both your resume and interview skills accordingly.
This guide breaks down the key qualities hiring managers seek out in applicants, both on paper and in person.
Five Things Hiring Managers look for in your Resume
When reviewing resumes, hiring managers are scanning for signals that you are a strong match for the open position. Here’s what hiring managers hope to find in your resume:
1. Proper Resume Formatting
First of all, proper formatting of a resume is required to pass the ATS filtering (if the company is using one). Without proper headings and keywords, the automated system can’t extract the relevant information. That means even if your resume is excellent in terms of the qualities you possess, poor formatting can send it directly into the trash. Use clear section headings, neat formatting, and strong action verbs.
If your resume reaches a person, proper formatting is still needed because they need to scan it in a few seconds to extract the key points. They are not going to spend hours reading a poorly formatted resume just to understand your profile. Again, without proper formatting, your resume is thrown directly into the trash.
2. Relevant Profile Match
Hiring managers do a thorough job requirement analysis to understand the key skills, qualifications, and experience required by the job description. If your profile is not relevant to the job description, it’s a good practice not to apply, which is just a waste of time.
Your skills, qualifications, and background should align with the job description. Highlight related education, certifications, and experience because these are what hiring managers are looking for.
3. Core Technical Skills
Most of the job descriptions include a section where they put a subheading for the core skills required. These are the must-have qualities in the applicants. These skills determine whether the profile is relevant to the position or not. In some cases, you can make it to the interview even without the exact experience years required or with a lower GPA if you have all the core technical skills required by the job.
Showcase hard skills needed for the role like software, languages, coding, tools, etc. It is better to quantify your level of expertise, as it makes them clear about your level.
4. Experience Level
Hiring managers look at experience level as a supporting element for your core skills and knowledge of the work environment. Some core skills are not gained through certification or training but through actual work experience. If you are applying for the senior level, showcasing your experience is very important.
Include a work history that fits the required experience level stated in the job advertisement.
Qualifications on the job description are included to filter applicants from certain backgrounds and skills so that candidates already have some prerequisite skills and knowledge in the fields. Also, qualified candidates can be further trained quickly and at a low cost.
Qualifications can be classified into two types: Academic and Professional. Academic qualifications are gained from educational institutions that equip candidates with in-depth knowledge in the field, whereas professional qualifications are advanced career training or certification gained from professional bodies within the industry.
If the job description states any specific qualifications, state them clearly in the resume. It is a good practice to include relevant certifications and training even if the job description doesn’t mention them explicitly. Remember that you have to showcase your best abilities while at the same time being better than the other applicants.
Seven Things Hiring Managers look for during the Job Interview
If you made it through the first step of resume screening, then you’ll be called for an interview, and now you are one step closer to your area job. In addition to your resume, the interview allows hiring managers to assess your potential face-to-face. Sometimes there can be only one interview, but it can go up to the second or third round as well.
Here are the key qualities hiring managers evaluate during an interview:
1. Communication Skills
Communication skills are very important in the business domain for both internal and external activities. Interviewers focus on how well you understand the questions and convey your thoughts and ideas. The key points are fluency, proper word selection, and the articulation of the speech.
Demonstrate strong verbal and listening skills. Provide clear, concise responses.
2. Work Ethic
Having a good work ethic is important in the workplace. Your perspective on work, professional beliefs, priorities, diligence, and moral behaviors reflect your work ethic. Hiring managers try to evaluate your work ethic qualitatively and compare it with all the other interviewees.
Your work ethic is measured indirectly through your responses to a set of questions. Convey professionalism, positivity, reliability, and integrity through your answers.
Passionate workers do not just solve problems; they also enjoy the process. Passion wins over talent, and recruiters are looking for candidates who love what they are doing. Companies need passionate workers who work continuously to solve problems and drive growth.
Show genuine interest and enthusiasm for the role and company.
4. Cultural Fit
Hiring managers look for your alignment with their company’s workflows, beliefs, values, and behaviors. Cultural fit affects overall productivity, internal communications, and the work environment you’ll create after joining the company. For the assessment of cultural fit, they may ask you about your past companies, working style, and personal values. Prepare a background study of the organizational culture of the company before appearing in an interview.
Display values and a work style that align with the organization.
The workflow runs smoothly when the workers know how to solve problems. Hiring managers focus on candidates with a visionary approach who can think multidimensionally and provide long-term solutions to problems. They may ask a few questions to assess your problem-solving ability within the scope of your task.
Take time to think through questions. Analyze issues logically and present multiple solution alternatives. Rank alternatives according to feasibility and constraints, and finally present your solution.
6. Technical Expertise
Hiring managers do not blindly believe whatever skills you write in your resume. They are looking for a signal or confirmation of whether you are capable or not. You’ll be asked a few questions related to core skills for the assessment of your technical expertise. Carefully look at the core skills posted in the job description and prepare beforehand.
Answer role-related questions to showcase your hard skills.
7. Ability to Perform
Hiring managers calculate your ability to perform the key responsibilities based on weighted average scores combining hard skills, soft skills, experience, qualifications, and other specific qualities they are looking for in a candidate. The scoring system involves a degree of importance that varies across the qualities. This is based on the nature of the job and the quality they emphasize the most. For example, they may place more weight on core skills than the number of languages you can speak or whether you have a driving license or not.
Tailor your resume to emphasize how well you can perform the key responsibilities outlined and perform well during the interview to increase your overall performance score.
By understanding exactly what hiring managers want to see, you can master both the application and interview processes. Highlight these key areas in your resume and responses to put your best foot forward. Show them you have what it takes to not only get the job but excel at it.