Aegistech President Sam Tomarchio has interviewed hundreds of people in the IT sector over the course of his career. When asked for his top 10 list of qualities a hiring manager are looking for in applicants, this is what he told us.
#1 – Punctual Candidates are late to interviews more often than you’d think. Plan on being 5-10 minutes early, and no earlier. Sometimes transportation problems are unavoidable, but poor preparation is the number one reason candidates aren’t on time. The interview is the manager’s chance to envision a future with you, and you with them. Don’t let their first impression of you be fashionably late!
#2 – Polite I can tell you some horror stories about rude candidates. After an interview, many managers will ask the receptionist what they thought of you. How were they greeted and spoken to? What type of behavior did you display in the lobby? Were you loud and on your cell phone the whole time? Smile, make eye contact, and be courteous to everyone…you never know who is watching.
#3 – Professional Dressing informally says you’re less serious about the job than the candidates who showed up looking business-like. Men, this means wearing a suit and tie (the only exception is if the office environment is casual and they told you to dress down). If you currently work in a casual environment and would tip off your boss by showing up midday in a suit, ask your recruiter to explain the situation to the interviewer.
Another 21st Century problem is your cell phone. Simple: TURN IT OFF! On multiple occasions, I’ve interviewed candidates who checked emails and texts during the interview. They seemed surprised when I ended the meeting and walked them to the door.
#4 – Attentive The manager expects your undivided attention as they explain the group dynamic, the project, the technology, and the challenges they face. Stay engaged, use active listening techniques, and ask relevant questions. If you can’t focus now, how are you going to do it at the weekly development meeting?
#5 – Enthusiastic The first four qualities are common sense to most people, but enthusiasm requires a little extra energy. Managers are looking for people who truly love what they do; they won’t need to be motivated to perform because they receive pleasure from their work. Unfortunately, to many people work is just work. If this is the case for you, make an effort to show enthusiasm for the position and the company.
#6 – Intelligent Managers want to hire smart people. Be prepared to answer brain-teasers that don’t have a right answer. The trick to answering these questions is thinking aloud, because the manager is typically less interested in the solution than how you think out the answer. Example:
How would you move a mountain one foot to the south?
- What things would you need to consider?
- What type of people would you need to get involved?
- How would you start?
- How would you make sure it was on target?
- What assumptions would you have to make before you started?
They could change the question to almost anything and achieve the same result: getting you to think aloud and see how you solve a problem that you had no idea you’d be facing.
#7 – Responsible Most people are overworked, so the manager needs to know that if they add you to their team, you’ll be able to handle your share of the work load. They specifically want to know what you were responsible for in your previous roles, and how you handled it. Show them you can carry your weight with examples of past achievements.
#8 – Detailed “Involved” is one of the worst, most over-used words you can use on a resume or during an interview. It’s all fluff and no substance. Be very detailed in describing your previous roles, and provide examples. Don’t try to embellish areas where you’re weak — either you did it, or you didn’t.
#9 – Interested You want the manager to leave the interview thinking, “They really want THIS position” (see #5: enthusiasm!). They are hiring to fill a specific need right now, so show them you’re interested in the role at hand, not the one you hope to be promoted to down the road.
#10 – Baggage Free All of the qualities above share a common theme: no one wants to hire a problem. Someone with commuting issues, circumstances that require extra time off, the inability to get along with others, or a negative attitude (never badmouth current or former coworkers!).