Is It Important To Know What Hiring Managers Want?
Our firm coaches a lot of candidates, and the most common questions we receive from the CRAs we represent are related to their resumes. While I appreciate that every job seeker should be concerned with their resume, the resume is only the starting point. Unfortunately, most candidates fail to consciously consider what candidate qualities the hiring managers want to see…and it goes well beyond the resume.
Fortunately, there are certain candidate qualities all hiring managers look for, regardless of the industry.
What Qualities Do Hiring Managers Want Most?
Hiring Managers want to see that you have goals
When I logged in this morning, I noticed that a study start-up specialist had sent a LinkedIn message to me. After only being with IQVIA for 15 months, she was looking for a new position and was hoping I could help.
Before I move forward with her story, I do want to state that her wanting to leave IQVIA after only 15 months wasn’t my primary concern. I believe all of us would agree that sometimes situations occur that will encourage individuals to leave a position after only a short time. The real concern was that her overall tenure was quite poor, with her last three positions averaging 15 months each. Prior to those three positions, she had held various roles with different companies and they all averaged 12 months or less.
Want to know what I saw when I viewed her profile? Someone without career goals. While an occasional short-term position can happen to anyone, a history of short tenures is hard to overlook.
Alternatively, I love working with goal-setters. I find that individuals who set goals have a different mindset because they are clear when it comes to knowing what they want. As a hiring manager, it is important for me to choose a new team member who has specifically selected my project; therefore, interviewing someone who shows she is clearly in control of her career is top of my list when it comes to assessing overall candidate qualities.
It is simple. If the opportunity I am offering aligns with the candidate’s career goals, not only will she stay with me long-term, but she will excel in the position. She will become loyal to me and I will become loyal to her. She will overcome tough situations and she will embrace new challenges because she has a vision of who she is striving to be. And, because her career goals align with our company’s mission, she will be invested in the company’s and project’s objectives. The net? She will be an excellent hire and our company will be better because of her.
How do you reflect your career goals on your resume?
The best way for you to show you have goals is to tell a story with your resume. An effectively written resume will not only represent your past experiences but will also clearly portray that you are in control of your career path. Meaning, that anyone reviewing your resume can clearly see that you didn’t leave positions just because they got tough, or alternatively, you haven’t accepted positions out of desperation. Instead, your resume shows where you hand-selected each role because it enabled you to continue marching toward your objectives.
When your resume shows clear progression and excellent tenure, it will always grab the hiring manager’s attention.
How do you exhibit your ambition and career goals during the interview?
When you are interviewing, be sure to share your goals. But importantly, clearly articulate how your career goals align with the company (or project). This, of course, means you have researched the company and you understand how your career goals align with the company’s mission or the project’s objectives.
You exhibit critical thinking and problem-solving skills
Successful CRAs are able to ask probing questions and analyze the resulting responses to effectively perform their roles. The interview is a perfect place to show that you have fine-tuned your critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
How do you show your critical thinking skills during the interview?
Prepare. We offer some sample questions to help you prepare; however, it is important to note that you should always pull from real-life experiences. Said differently, describing how you would handle a future situation isn’t equal to explaining how you have handled a previous situation. Therefore, engage the behavioral method of interviewing to clearly describe real situations that highlight your critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
As a side note…
When you are describing scenarios to the hiring manager, be sure to share details. As an example, describe the steps you took to initially analyze the problem that needed to be solved. Then speak to how you examined the collected data to come up with a solution. If you engaged additional team members to help solve the problem, be clear as to whom you included and why. And very importantly, always clearly describe the outcome and be prepared to discuss what you learned throughout the process.
Consider being strategic in your approach.
You can also exhibit your critical thinking skills by showing the interviewer that you have already visualized yourself in the position. How? Depending on the role, you can be prepared to detail your planned approach to being successful in the position. You can do this by describing how you will tackle your first day, your first week, or your first month of the position. You should also consider asking the hiring manager what her short and long-term expectations are for you and how she will measure your success.
Your time management and organizational skills are evident
While I work hard to avoid using the words ‘always’ and ‘never’, I think it is safe to say that effective CRAs will always possess strong time management and organizational skills.
The difference between time management and organizational skills:
It seems that time management and organizational skills are always grouped together, but when you are preparing for an interview it is important to prepare for each topic separately.
After all, your ability to manage time is not the same thing as your ability to stay organized.
Let’s talk about time management and how you can express skills in this area.
There are two primary ways to show that you have strong time management skills. First, be on time for your interview. Second, be timely in your responses to email inquiries and be thorough and detailed in the answers you provide.
Clear and simple.
But here is where many fall short when it comes to proving they have solid time management skills: showing how you have effectively scheduled the execution of large projects. To properly exhibit strong time management skills, be prepared to discuss how you have tackled a large project by breaking it down into smaller ‘bite-sized’ tasks. Then, provide examples of how you scheduled those smaller tasks to meet the overall project deadline.
Oh…and speaking of deadlines. Be prepared to discuss how you have missed a deadline in the past. A hint? Everyone has missed a deadline, so own up to it, describe the situation, and speak to what you learned from the experience.
What does it mean to be organized?
In our view, having effective time management skills is only one characteristic of being organized. After all, properly managing your time will keep you efficient so that you can get more ‘stuff’ done.
Being organized also means you are an effective communicator, you set goals, you delegate or recruit other team members to help ensure deadlines are met, and you manage your workspace and resources so that you can easily find what is needed when it is needed.
How to prove organizational skills in an interview.
When I ask a candidate what she does to keep organized, I am looking for her to describe her processes, systems, and methodologies. Meaning, what type of tool do you use to manage your time? Do you use a specific project management program or system to handle multiple projects or assignments? How do you track deadlines and what measures do you take to ensure you are going to meet those deadlines? What triggers do you set up that will flag for you to ask for help or delegate tasks to another team member?
One of my favorite questions to ask (and one you can use to help prepare) is for a CRA candidate to describe how they organize themselves when picking up a new study. I love it when the CRA candidate starts describing different folders for different sites, the trackers they use to coordinate what needs to be monitored, what type of task lists or to-do lists they maintain, and how they prioritize or reprioritize those tasks on a daily basis.
A few other things to consider
Your communication skills are always under scrutiny.
Every single interaction. We will often see CRA candidates become too relaxed in their communication style. In our view, effective communication is one of the most important candidate qualities a CRA can possess and should be exhibited in every single interaction.
Verbal communication skills also include the ability to manage your body language so stay aware of what your body language is telling your interviewer during the discussion. And written communication skills will be evident in your email correspondence as well as through any written credentials such as your resume, cover letter, or responses to assessments. Focus on being clear and concise while also considering the right amount of detail you should be providing.
Don’t forget that communication includes the ability to listen. Make sure you are actively listening, taking notes where it makes sense to do so, and providing thoughtful and interactive feedback throughout your discussions with the hiring manager.
You possess a natural ability to lead others.
Even if the position you are applying for doesn’t entail overseeing the duties of others, natural leadership qualities are something that all hiring managers look for. This includes accepting responsibility and volunteering for projects, even if the tasks included aren’t the most desirable.
Be prepared to speak about how you have taken ownership of a team or project without being asked. This is also a great time to show the hiring manager that you eagerly accept challenges and are willing to tackle tasks and changes as they present themselves.
Showing that you go above and beyond:
This means you have a history of doing more than asked or expected. You can set this initial impression by simply being prepared for the interview. You can also share previous examples where you have accepted additional responsibilities without being asked.
The most important candidate quality is…
You. Beyond all advice, remember to be yourself. The interview is meant for you to explore the company while they explore you. The goal is to find a great match…so being yourself should be your key focus.
The qualities listed above are attributes all hiring managers are looking for in candidates. Your ability to demonstrate them before, during, and immediately following an interview will directly impact your hiring manager’s decision. Communicating and demonstrating your best candidate qualities will go far in landing you that dream job.
Have questions? Contact us; we are here to help!