4 Things Hiring Managers Wish Every Job Applicant Knew BEFORE The Interview

Linda Le Phan

You’ve likely heard all of the usual interview tips: dress properly, smile, be on time, bring your resume, show off your skills, etc. etc. But as a job seeker you might wonder – aren’t there some other common rules of interview success that you should know about before you go through that special kind of torture also known as the in-person interview?

Sure, the interview process will vary drastically from job to job and from industry to industry, but we’re willing to bet that there’s some ‘secret code’ that all hiring managers understand and practice when screening through applicants face-to-face, and we want to know what that is! According to Job Market Experts, 98% of job seekers are eliminated at the initial resume screening and only 2% of candidates make it to the interview, so it’s important for every job seeker’s sake to make every interview count.

To get the inside scoop from within the HR world, we asked a bunch of HR pros and leading business executives what the most common interview mistakes they see with job seekers today and came up with these crucial pieces of advice every interviewee needs to know to rock their next interview:

You should have a good answer for “Tell me a bit about yourself”

One of the top “go-to” questions that interviewers will throw your way in a job interview is “Tell me a bit about yourself”, and you’d be surprised at how often job candidates don’t see this question coming. “You can practically guarantee that your interviewer will ask you some form of that question, so not being prepared for it is a critical error”, says Michelle Petrazzuolo, an HR professional with fifteen years’ experience and who is currently the CEO of Level Up Prep, a business that provides mock interviews and resume prep for job candidates.

“Many people give a summary that is too personal, accidentally revealing something unflattering or irrelevant about themselves. Some ramble on for far too long out of fear of silence”, Petrazzuolo goes on to say. “Done correctly, your answer to this question should justify why you are sitting in that seat and provide the recruiter with a platform from which to start talking about your fit in the role.”

Lack of research and preparedness is typically a dealbreaker

A huge job interview pet peeve that pretty much all hiring managers have is lack of research and preparedness, with the worst case scenarios being job seekers who show up and don’t even seem to know who they’re interviewing for! Do yourself a favor and, at the very least, take the time to get to know who the company is, what exactly it is they do, and how you might fit in. Added bonus points if you dig into insights from actual employees about the people and the culture at the company.


Employer reviews like the ones you can find for this agency here, for example, give tons of company insights that can be helpful during an interview

“Stand out candidates impress us by doing their homework on our work, values and even by referencing the content we publish”, shares Christina May, Chief Marketing Officer and Managing Partner of Illumine8 Marketing & PR. And beyond that? Prepare insightful questions of your own for your interviewer.

“Go beyond shallow questions like “Who are your competitors?” These questions require no background research so are less impressive than questions that demonstrate a deeper understanding of the product, industry, or role itself. Let your intellectual curiosity take over, but try to ground your question with a desire to better understand the job opportunity”, says Jordan Wan, the Founder and CEO of CloserIQ, the sales recruiting platform for startups.

Watch what you say about your old boss or company

Another one of the biggest mistakes job seekers make during the interview process that hiring managers can’t stand is speaking very poorly about their old boss or company.

“It’s surprisingly common and a very clear sign to me that if they portray their old employer in a negative light, they wouldn’t hesitate to speak poorly about my company if they worked here. I have never hired someone who speaks in this way because I view it as unprofessional and tells me that they have a victim mentality,”  shares Jason Davis, the President of ClubConnect, a health club education software company.

In general, actually, any overt negativity counts against you. It’s “best to leave overly negative experiences out of the interview. A potential employer does not want to hear a candidate speaking negatively…it’s the quickest way to be removed from the running.” adds Jessica H. Hernandez, President and CEO of Great Resumes Fast, a top-rated, values-based executive resume writing service for accomplished and emerging executives.

A great practical example from CloserIQ’s Jordan Wan of how to spin something negative: you may want to say something like “I struggled to find exciting career paths for my growth at the company,” instead of, “The company doesn’t promote top performers.”

Focus on what you can bring to the job, not just what you will get out of it

Job seekers, listen up: it’s not just about what the company can do for your career, but also what YOU can do for THEM. Hiring managers hate it when candidates show up to the interview and focus too much on what they will get out of the job rather than what they will bring to the job.

“Job seekers who demonstrate their value during the interview process will always have more choices, more offers, and better career opportunities,” shares Sonja Hastings, Software Sales Recruiter at Optimal Sales Search. With more than 10 years in the recruitment industry working with ambitious software and sales professionals, Hastings also points out that “your first priority during the interview is to demonstrate your relevant skills to the employer…you’ll have plenty of time to find out what’s in it for you after you get the offer”. 

That’s IF you get the job offer.

Take these tips into account for your next interview and let us know @kununu_US how it turned out!


Linda Le Phan is the Content Marketing Manager at kununu US, a company review platform built on transparency. When she isn’t focused on creating great content around the modern workplace, company culture, and workplace happiness, she is probably going out to get an iced coffee (even in Boston winter), raiding the snack drawer, or jamming to kununu’s Spotify playlist.