Interview Question: "If You Were Hiring, What Would You Look For?"

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published January 3, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

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Interviewers commonly ask candidates open-ended questions to make a general assessment of their qualifications, experiences and ability to fulfill the needs of a role. For instance, an interviewer may ask you "If you were hiring, what would you look for?" to evaluate your understanding of a position's requirements and if you meet them. If you're facing an upcoming interview, it may be beneficial for you to prepare to address this question. In this article, we explain why employers ask this interview question and how to answer it, including three example responses.

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Why employers ask "If you were hiring, what would you look for?"

Employers ask this question to assess whether candidates fully comprehend the requirements and responsibilities of the role for which they're interviewing. In your answer, you can offer your perspective regarding an employer's expectations for a role, what skills or knowledge an ideal candidate needs to fulfill these expectations and whether you possess these qualifications. From here, employers can better evaluate your understanding of the role and if you're adequately prepared for it.

How to answer "If you were hiring, what would you look for?"

Follow this step-by-step guide to form an effective answer to this question:

1. Conduct research and learn more about the job

To prepare an effective answer to this question, first conduct some research so you can learn more about the job for which you're interviewing. Review the job's listing and determine what expectations an employer has for an ideal candidate. In addition, consider browsing the organization's website to learn more about its workplace culture, operational functions and overall mission.

Related: Interview Question: "What Do You Know About Our Company?"

2. Think about the qualities and skills that may benefit this position

Using the information you gathered through your research, consider what qualifications might help a candidate successfully fulfill the expectations an employer has for this position. Make a list of the education credentials, skills, qualities and types of expertise a candidate might benefit from. As you form your list, think about what qualifications you already have and how you've demonstrated them in your past work.

3. Outline the qualities you believe are a priority and make connections

In your answer, you can mention that you did research into the job listing and the organization to show you're a proactive candidate with genuine interest. From here, outline all the qualities you might prioritize as a hiring manager screening candidates for this position. As you discuss the qualities you believe are important, try to make connections between them and your own skills, experiences, education and abilities.

4. Ask for feedback to determine whether you missed anything essential

As you wrap up your response, ask the interviewer for their thoughts about the qualities you outlined. This may reflect positively on you and demonstrate your openness to feedback as a professional. Further, the interviewer's insight can help you determine whether you fully understand the position or if you missed any essential components in your answer.

5. Explain how you can fulfill the requirements of the role

After you conclude or the interviewer provides you with feedback, they may ask a follow-up question about how you fulfill the requirements for the role. Take this opportunity to explain how you meet their expectations and what valuable skills, experiences and qualifications you can offer them. This can help interviewers make important ties between your abilities and what they expect from an ideal candidate.

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Example answers to "If you were hiring, what would you look for?"

It may be helpful for you to review various example answers to this question so you can gain a better understanding of how to form your own response. Here are three samples to review while preparing for your interview:

Example 1

"I think anyone who assumes the role of a lead teacher would benefit from having excellent communication, organizational, collaboration, leadership and time management skills. These foundational competencies are essential to providing effective instruction in the classroom and meeting other expectations regarding curriculum development, lesson planning, grading, record-keeping, coaching and teacher-parent communication. In addition, I believe it's important for lead teachers to act empathetically toward their students to enhance their social-emotional learning.

I think that a candidate with the right combination of these qualities may be able to handle the various competing responsibilities of a lead teacher while working toward the ultimate goal of serving students and providing them with a quality education. I believe my professional experience teaching high school for seven years helped me develop this set of qualities successfully, and I hope to continue growing and optimizing my approach while serving as a lead teacher."

Example 2

"I believe the ideal candidate for the position of an administrative assistant would have excellent organizational skills, the ability to manage their time efficiently and expertise working interpersonally. With these qualities, a candidate may be able to understand and meet the administrative needs of an organization successfully. I think it's valuable for administrative assistants to be both flexible and adaptable as professionals. Not only do they work in a highly variable capacity, but they commonly experience time-sensitive challenges in their role that crop up and require immediate attention.

Being able to make shifts on short notice and navigate these issues with tact can help administrative assistants effectively support the day-to-day operations of an organization and its leaders. In my previous role as a secretary for a law firm, I developed this type of agility so I could better meet my supervisors' expectations and ensure the firm's operations ran smoothly. Due to my current skill set and initiative, I think I would be an effective administrative assistant, and I hope to offer the best of my abilities to support your organization's work on a day-to-day basis."

Related: Interview Question: "Why Should We Hire You?"

Example 3

"Working as a graphic designer requires you to have a combination of technical and creative skills. Therefore, If I were interviewing candidates for this role, I think I'd look for someone who can operate specialized design software and use technological tools to create compelling, original content. I'd make sure to examine a candidate's portfolio of work to determine whether they've demonstrated their abilities in the past and understand what I might expect from them as an employee.

Even more, I think it's important that graphic designers have excellent communication, interpersonal and business skills. To be truly successful in their roles, these professionals often need to work alongside clients, evaluate their needs and produce designs that meet their expectations. With 10 years of experience as both a freelance and in-house designer, I've worked on a diverse array of projects with clients from all over the world and developed the skills to fulfill all the requirements of this role."

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