3 Questions Hiring Managers Always Ask (Themselves) About You

3 Questions Hiring Managers Always Ask (Themselves) About You was originally published on Idealist Careers.

It’s normal to be nervous about an upcoming interview, but prepping answers to tricky questions can help ease the process and make sure you present how you’ll do the job. Even with the standard interview process in flux, you can bet that almost all hiring managers want you to touch on the same three points to determine your compatibility with a role.

1. Can you do the job?

This is the main question at the top of every hiring manager’s mind, and the reason that you’re interviewing for the role: Are you capable of doing the work?

An interview is your opportunity to elaborate on your most relevant work experience (not simply repeat the information that’s already on your resume). Think about what sets you apart from candidates with similar backgrounds and prepare anecdotes that highlight your unique approach to projects or challenges at work.

If you’re interviewing for a leadership position, reflect on your ability to guide others. Maybe you took the initiative to organize regular check-ins to help your team get more comfortable with giving and receiving feedback. If you’d like to highlight a project you spearheaded, share what project management tools you used to provide insight into your workflow.

Pro Tip: Make sure that you know the difference between showing versus telling to really wow a hiring manager!

2. Will you do the job?

Even though you may have the skills and experience a role requires, you’ll also need to show the hiring manager that you’ll actively do the work. It’s great if you’re genuinely passionate about an organization’s mission; but if you aren’t interviewing for your dream job, you’ll still want to share which parts of the role excite and motivate you.

To properly address this question, take note of what drew you to apply for the job in the first place. Will it allow you to engage in direct service in a community-based setting? Did the organization recently announce an initiative you’d like to get involved in?

You can also illustrate that you will do the job (and how you’ll do it) by doing research into some of the hiring organization’s pain points prior to the interview. Getting the scoop on the real challenges they face—and how those challenges relate to the role for which you’re applying—gives you an opportunity to present some real solutions in your interview.

When a hiring manager hears specific ideas for how you plan to manage your responsibilities, they’ll know you’re serious about the job.

3. How will you add to the organizational culture?

If you’re a seasoned interviewee, you may be expecting to see something about culture fit on this list. However, many hiring managers are changing direction and moving away from culture fit and toward culture add, and we couldn’t agree more.

Rather than judging how you’ll fit into an established organizational culture—I’m sure you can think of at least a few ways this method can lead to biases in hiring—many hiring managers are now looking for candidates who will help to evolve an existing culture, bring different ideas to the table, and advance efforts toward diversity and inclusion. In other words, culture add. 

Interestingly, there isn’t much you can do to exhibit your potential culture contribution other than being yourself. 

Culture add is most effectively measured through objective analysis on the part of a hiring team, so the best advice we can offer here is to avoid squeezing yourself into the box that you think the hiring manager expects you to fit in. Instead, when you interview, don’t shy away from ways in which you can challenge the status quo, improve a current process, or represent a viewpoint that the organization may be missing.

These points may not encompass everything a hiring manager is thinking about during an interview, but they’re a good start. Brainstorm a few examples of how you plan to address them to show off your relevant skills and experience. That way, the next time you’re in a job interview, you’ll know you did everything you could to demonstrate why you’d be a great fit for the role, team, or organization.

By Alexis Perrotta and Jaxx Artz


Are you deep in the job search journey? Check out our Interview Q&A series for tips on how to answer common questions during your next interview.