Hiring Managers: What do they want?

August 8, 20146:36 pm1196 views

When hiring managers and recruitment consultants ask candidates occasionally strange questions during an interview, what do they actually want to get out of these questions?

When answering questions such as “What’s your greatest weakness?” and “Why should we hire you?”, sometimes a query like, “What are your hobbies?” can seem both easy yet difficult at the same time. It involves disclosing details of your personal life to the hiring manger for a simple purpose — they want to get a better sense of who the candidate is.

Hobbies can showcase an individuals strengths, passions and skills. So be prepared to discuss those in the interview. According to Amy Hoover, the President of TalentZoo, “The employer is trying to determine whether you’d be a good fit, and getting insight into your interests, hobbies, and personality all help in evaluating that”.

By learning more about external interests, recruiters and hiring managers can learn more about a candidates personality, even drawing some conclusions about how they may thrive in the organisation, as well as optimise both the organisational and job fit. For example, hobbyist painters interviewing for an account executive position with an advertising agency might be viewed as an asset when working with  their creative counterparts, due to this creative flair.

Involvement in orchestrating community events indicates a certain level of organisational skills are critical, which translate well into positions involving promotional or event planning and management. Some employers also look for well-rounded individuals, so there’s no need to limit pursuits outside.

However, what interviewers are really looking for when they ask about hobbies are:

1. Team Players 

Most jobs involve a certain level of group interaction and support. Cross functional work teams continue to thrive on any kind of activity that people do in their spare time, as that demonstrates the ability to be a team player. Examples are playing a team sport or working with groups on a volunteer project. This creates positive perceptions amongst prospective employers.

2. Leadership Skills

Leading a group in leisure activities, ranging from a book or hiking club to a charitable effort or community activity or social welfare organisation speaks well of an individuals ability to lead on the job. Not all jobs require leadership or management talent, but these activities project and make visible the desire to make a difference.

3. Active Skills Development

Staying with a particular leisure pursuit, and training for improvement — which could relate to anything from artistic or musical talents, to bettering communications, writing or research skills — leads to an impression of perseverance. This is always a positive aspect and add value for any position an individual is being hired for.

4. Well-rounded & Versatile 

Hiring managers like to know that you have an array of interests and are not just focused on the type of work you do 24/7. The assumption is that engaging in a diverse assortment of hobbies may better equip applicants to manage a broader array of experiences and people professionally. However, listing out too many hobbies can imply indecision, a lack of ability to commit adequate resource and applicants stretching themselves too thin.

See: Does Branding Really Matter in Recruiting?

5. Disciplined and Goal-oriented 

Hiring managers like to see applicants who set goals in their leisure pursuits. They want to see that applicants enjoy completing a project, with the desire to reach certain milestones in their leisure activities. Goal-setting is essential in any job, as managers like to see that professionals with a sense of purpose and determination to reach goals that that’ve been mutually established.

Training for a marathon or taking a class in programming? Candidates may want to mention that at this point of the interview.

6. Passion

Displaying excitement about leisure pursuits can show a side of candidates that interviewers typically can appreciate and value, as it adds to the authenticity of the impression they receive. Demonstrating the capability of enjoying activities and being passionate about them, whether inside or outside of the office, is value-added.

7. Focused

Individuals may have entrepreneurial interests on the side.  But if such endeavours are irrelevant to the professional needs of the organisation, this can raise alarm bells amongst interviewers. No interviewer wants to get the impression that candidates are attempting to gain a salary or work experience until they’re ready to launch their own business.”

8. Interests Outside Work

A terrible response to this type of question is “I have no real specific outside interests. I’m just too busy.” This tells employers you’re a workaholic — which isn’t necessarily a good thing. It also implies that the candidate can’t take time outside of work to refuel and recharge by doing the things they enjoy. The best policy is to bring up leisure pursuits that speak to team orientation, good people skills, tenacity and thirst for knowledge in the areas of passion.

Avoid emphasising hobbies that can be construed as vices (e.g. wine tasting, craft beer making or cigar clubs), as this may foil an impression, by adding negative elements to an otherwise wholly positive interview with a candidate.

This is abridged content from Business Insider, with the original article available here. Any questions? Reach Shiwen via shiwen@hrinasia.com

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