10 Ways To Impress a Hiring Manager During an Interview

Updated June 9, 2023

The interview is arguably the most important part of the hiring process. While it can be difficult to know what a hiring manager is looking for during an interview, taking the time to fully prepare in advance can help you feel more confident and relaxed from beginning to end.

In this article, we discuss what hiring managers are looking for during interviews and 10 steps you can take to impress them during your next interview.

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What are hiring managers looking for during interviews?

When trying to hold the hiring manager's positive attention, it's best to start from a place of understanding what intrigues them. Some of the things that a hiring manager looks for when interviewing a candidate include :

  • Culture fit: The hiring manager will assess how well-suited you are for the company culture. One way they might form an opinion is by discovering if you've worked in similar environments before while also assessing your overall demeanor and core values.

  • Managerial fit: Because different supervisors have different management styles, the hiring manager will evaluate how you like to be managed and whether it aligns with the management style of your potential supervisor.

  • Core skills: A hiring manager will take a deeper look at each of your core skills in order to ensure you have the qualifications to perform the job.

  • If you understand the role: The hiring manager will also evaluate whether you have thoroughly reviewed the job description and whether you understand and are excited about the position.

  • If you are excited about the company: They will evaluate whether you appear excited about the opportunity to work with the company, in general.

Related: 125 Common Job Interview Questions and Answers (With Tips)

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How to impress a hiring manager during an interview

Here are 10 steps you can follow to impress a hiring manager during an interview:

  1. Understand the culture.

  2. Do your research on the interviewer.

  3. Demonstrate relevant experience.

  4. Be enthusiastic.

  5. Show that you're easy to work with.

  6. Be precise about why you want the job.

  7. Ask thoughtful questions.

  8. Talk to people at the company before the interview.

  9. Show that you've been paying attention.

  10. Relax and be yourself.

Related: How To Prepare for a Behavioral Interview

1. Understand the culture

Before your interview, conduct company research to understand its values and mission, and how they differ from others in the industry. For example, the company may be well known for being down-to-earth and laid back. Any candidates who interview with that organization need to understand and be in alignment with that culture in order to be a good match.

One thing to remember as you’re discussing your fitness for the company with employers is that the idea of “culture fit” can sometimes be used as a way to eliminate and discriminate against candidates, however unknowingly, who don’t think, act or look like existing employees. A better alternative concept you might consider speaking to is “culture add,” or your ability to bring fresh and additive ideas and feedback to the team. Culture adds make the company stronger by diversifying the experiences and perspectives of its workforce.

2. Do your research on the interviewer

While most candidates will research the company, you can set yourself apart from other candidates by understanding the background of the person with whom you'll be meeting, including the type of behaviors that might draw their attention.

Find the interviewer on a professional networking site and read their bio prior to your interview. Look for a personal connection, if possible. Then, prepare some questions that are specific for that interviewer, such as details about the focus of the organization, the interviewer's specialty or even common interests you both have.

Related: 21 Job Interview Tips: How To Make a Great Impression

3. Demonstrate relevant experience

The best way to show that you're the right person for a job is to make it clear to the interviewer that you have the skills and experiences that align with what's required for the position. The best way to do this is to discuss specific relevant experiences and accomplishments you've achieved in prior roles.

If you're changing careers or industries or even if you're just recently out of school, you can still accomplish this by giving examples of experiences that are transferrable to this position.

4. Be enthusiastic

Make it clear to the hiring manager that you are enthusiastic about the opportunity to work for that company in that specific role. Write it in your cover letter, emphasize it during your interview and reiterate it in your follow-up letter after the interview.

Related: Follow-Up Email Examples For After the Interview

5. Show that you're easy to work with

Because the hiring manager will be assessing whether you are a good fit for the managerial style of your potential supervisor, you can take some steps to show that you're easy to work with. One way is by demonstrating that you're a great listener. Make eye contact, ask questions and give thoughtful answers. Share with the hiring manager that you appreciate constructive feedback and enjoy learning new skills.

Another thing you can do is ask the manager directly how they would describe the managerial style of the potential supervisor. If their style is in line with your own preferred management style, you could say something like, "That sounds great. I find I work well with managers who are [your preferred style]."

6. Be precise about why you want the job

After researching the company, you should have clarity on its mission, key competitors, products and services and target audience. Look for something that you can draw on during the conversation that shows you have a deep interest in the opportunity.

This is also a great opportunity to demonstrate that you understand the role you're interviewing for. Familiarize yourself with the job description and discuss what the job entails and why you're an ideal match, based on your background.

Related: Interview Question: "Why Do You Want to Work Here?"

7. Ask thoughtful questions

Typically, at the end of the interview, you will be asked if you have any questions. Have high-value questions prepared that show you are thinking about things that most matter to the interviewer. For example, a great question could be, "What does success look like in this position?"

8. Talk to people at the company before the interview

Before your interview, leverage your friends and acquaintances to get an introduction to someone who works at the company. Once you're introduced to that person, invite them to an informational interview to gather information about the company prior to your formal interview. This will help you walk into your interview fully prepared and also demonstrate to everyone how interested you are in the position.

9. Show that you've been paying attention

At the end of your interview, thank the interviewer for sharing information about the position, company and what it's like to work there. Reiterate that you believe that your experience aligns with what they're looking for in a candidate and share that you have specific skills that they're looking for, naming them. This type of response demonstrates your professionalism and makes it clear that you've been paying attention during the interview.

Related: How To Make a Good Impression After Your Interview

10. Relax and be yourself

Ultimately, every interviewer wants to get to know who you are. Try to think of the interview as a networking opportunity where you're marketing your best qualities and skills. Do your best to relax and be yourself as you share your relevant experiences, work-related interests and things you love most about the industry and your career.

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