Cracking the code of a great interview isn’t rocket science. But it does take preparation and practice to ensure you can present yourself as the answer to the hiring manager’s prayers.

top-4Review the job ad carefully to make sure you understand not only the job duties and requirements, but also read between the lines to catch any nuances of what’s most important to accomplish in the role.  Have your questions ready as well so you can gauge if it is a great job for you or not. And know that, even if they never ask these questions specifically, at the top of every hiring manager’s mind are the following four critical questions.

In David Letterman style, the Top 4 Things Every Employer Wants to Know in An Interview are:

#4. Can you do the work… well? Whether you’re interviewing for a frontline job, management position or leadership role, your next employer wants to know if you can do the work they need done. One of the best ways to demonstrate this in an interview is with concrete examples of how you’ve tackled similar duties, responsibilities and challenges in the past. Deliver your stories by briefly describing what circumstances or challenges you faced, the actions you took to resolve those challenges and, most importantly, the results of your actions. Demonstrate what you’ve done in the past as a way to let them know what great outcomes you’ll produce in your new role.

#3. Will you be easy to manage… or not? Can your potential new boss see a great relationship or nothing but wailing and gnashing of teeth when you two work together? Be authentic and honest with this one while at the same time trying to understand exactly what it will take to work effectively with the person to whom you will report directly. The good ones want to know if they will have to micromanage or if they can set you loose to do great work without having to look over your shoulder. You also want to ask questions to know if you will get along with him/her, too. I often coach clients on asking their own behavioral questions in the interview to get as clear an idea as possible. Questions like, “Tell me about a time when one of your direct reports didn’t deliver like they should have. How did you as the manager handle that?” will paint a much more authentic picture than “So, what’s your management style?”

#2. Will you fit in with the team and our culture? In my humble opinion, nothing is worse than having to check a part of yourself at the door everyday and have to work hard to be someone you’re not, just to “get along.” My best advice: in the interview, be yourself and let them meet the real person they’ll work with day in and day out. If you’re not a fit, better to find out in the interview than on Day One of a new job you suddenly can’t wait to leave.

And the #1 thing every hiring manager wants to know in the interview…

#1. Why you and not any of the other candidates? Indeed, why you? The hiring manager probably has three to 10 other people he or she will be interviewing. So, why not them? This is the culmination of all the other questions and is the most important question you need to address. Package your competence (can you do the job?), your character (can I work with you… can the team work with you?) and your confidence (are you the right person?) in a way that’s 100% authentic to the results you can deliver, the colleague you are and the value you can bring to the team and organization and the right hiring manager will have all the answers they need.

Meredith’s personal mission is to create “best places to work” filled with engaged employees and “follower-worthy” managers and leaders.

As Senior Vice President at Innovative Career Consulting, an OI Partner based in Denver, Meredith guides leaders, teams and entire organizations to increase productivity and profitability while developing happier people. Meredith personally specializes in leveraging strengths in the workplace – in team development, career coaching and pre-hire selection and development assessments.  Partnering with companies across industries, she empowers teams to deliver better bottom-line results, increase productivity and improve efficiency. 

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