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Job Interview Secret, you haven’t heard this one before

job interview secret

the job interview secret. . .shhhhh

Sharing the job interview secret

Here is the job interview secret:  I don’t care if you can do this job.  I don’t care how qualified you are.  I don’t even care what school you went to.  What I care about is you making the hiring managers life easier and your ability to articulate this during an interview.

I often hear from a candidate “I can do this job”, “I can be successful at this job”, and the classic “this is the perfect job for me”.  I understand where candidates are coming from, but it is this mentality that keeps them out of the running.  Trying to fit yourself and your skill set to the job description is only half the battle.  I would say it is only 1/3 of the battle.  Most candidates focus on two things:

  1. “I” and “Me”  (as stated in the first sentence above)
  2. Trying to prove that they can fulfill or meet the requirements of the JOB DESCRIPTION.

Only focusing on these two points is a sure way to ending the interview process.

At this stage in the search, this job isn’t about you the candidate.  It is all about the company, and more importantly the hiring manager.  (When we begin negotiating on the job offer, we can shift the focus to “us”, but while interviewing, the focus is on the needs of the hiring manager. )

The job interview secret is proving that you can make the hiring manager’s job easier.   This is a very different mentality:

(Job Description) + (communicating that your skill set matches the job description) ≠   job.

(Job Description)  + (communicating that your skill set matches the job description) + (how you are going to make the hiring managers job easier) = job.

Whether they are qualified or not, the candidate that does this the most effectively wins.

The background:  The hiring manager explains the job specifications to HR.  HR in turn “interprets” these requirements into something that is politically correct for the viewing public.  Usually, these interpretations sound exactly the same, regardless of the industry or the position.  Buzzwords, very generic, very safe.

The rub:  It is not unusual that the Hiring Manager doesn’t realize they are trying to hire someone to make their job easier.  Their mentality is that they are hiring someone to fill a “position”.  The job description tells us what the hiring manager THINKS is going to fill a position.  Between the candidate trying to fill a Job Description and a Hiring Manager trying to fill a position, both sides are missing the point.  It is subtle, but it is literally two ships passing each other in the night.

Think of the job description differently.  Each bullet point is a description of how THE HIRING MANAGERS LIFE is going to be EASIER.

We are not being hired to be an analyst, a cashier, or a truck driver.  That may be the position we are interviewing for, but at the end of the day, the hiring manager is looking for someone to make THEIR life easier.

The job interview secret is that the job interview process is all about the hiring manager.

Communication skills separate a qualified candidate from a candidate that is going to be hired.  It isn’t the candidate that is most qualified to do the job that wins.  The candidate who can communicate with the hiring manager most effectively on the topic of “how the hiring manager’s job is going to be easier” will be the one that is hired.  Making their professional life easier is a given.  Make their personal lives easier is the cherry on the ice cream sundae.

At the end of the day, you are being hired to make your manager/hiring managers job EASIER.   You are not being hired so you can earn benefits, earn a paycheck, and definitely not for consideration of your career.  The number one thing a hiring manager is looking for is someone to help them solve their problems, (the hiring managers, not yours).    They don’t want to baby you, build you up, or worry about your drama.  They want you to solve their problems and if most managers had their way, the two of you would never have to interact.  If you were going to pay someone, isn’t this what you would want?  Make my life easier biatches!

When I interview people, I find most candidates don’t “own” the interview.  They allow the interview to own them.  They allow 100% of the control to be had by the hiring manager.  In the least, it should be a 50 / 50 give and take, but it is better if you the candidate are doing 75-80% of the talking.  If you aren’t doing the talking, you are not proving how you have made prior managers lives easier and how you are going to make your new manager’s life easier.

This approach may be a little awkward for some.  Yes, it would be easier if the hiring manager just asked you “How can you make my life easier?”  But this question just leads to sexual harassment lawsuits so the way they get around this is that they ask the usual:  tell me about yourself, tell me about your experience, and tell me about your weakness.

I find that a lot of candidates are so focused on answering these generic questions, they miss the hidden point, the job interview secret.   That hidden point is to prove with examples how you the candidate are going to make the hiring managers life easier.   There is a big difference in mentality here.

This is one reason I like to hear a candidate talk about how “we” will be able to do this, or “we” could do that.  It tells me that they are vested and already thinking that “we” are a team.  The candidate is here to help the hiring manager.  It is a subtle difference but will get the hiring manager into a different head space.

Yes, you should focus on proving that you are the most qualified candidate for the position.  But what you should be doing is putting the focus on proving that you are the one most qualified to make your manager’s job easier.  You need to communicate how you can help this hiring manager succeed in a bigger, better, faster fashion.

If you are the hiring manager, would you hire candidate 1 or candidate 2?

  1. “I have the skills that you listed in your job description”
  2. “I have the skills that you are looking for per the job description, and I will use them to help you become bigger, better, faster”.  My goal is NOT to take your position, my goal Ms. Hiring manager is to make you succeed and look good.

For anyone that thinks this is ass backward, remember when you are hired, your goals will inevitably wrap up into the hiring managers goals.  Your manager’s goals will wrap up with department goals?  Make them look good!!!

Some questions to focus the conversation on how you and the hiring manager will be working as a team.

  • What interested you in this company?

I like this question because it shows interest in the hiring manager.  You are making an effort to get to know them and their relationship to the company.  A great starting point for a common point of interest.  It also sets the tone for the following to be asked :

  • What keeps you up at night?  What are your pain points?
  • What problems are you working on right now?

Just make sure you answer the question with something intelligent.  Just sitting there nodding your head in agreement when you hear their response will just reinforce their easy decision.

Good Luck,



nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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