Surefire Ways to Impress Your Next Hiring Manager

Having a prestigious educational pedigree can certainly catch an employer’s attention, as can a stint at a famous company. But even if you didn’t attend a big-name college or work at a world-famous tech firm, there’s no need to worry—you can still impress a tech manager during the hiring process.

“You don’t necessarily need a deep technical background to impress a hiring manager or CEO,” explained Refael Zikavashvili, co-founder and CEO of Pramp, a platform that allows people to practice live technical interviews. “You don’t even need to know the answers to every single interview question.”

So what do tech managers really desire when they interview candidates? To help you figure out what you might be overlooking, we asked two founders to reveal what impresses them. 

Show Me What You Can Do

Taking the initiative to showcase your skills and abilities is absolutely the best way to impress any hiring manager. These folks are interested in assessing your potential and envisioning how you will perform on the job, not picking apart the job-duty descriptions in your résumé.

When you’re trying to a hit a manager’s hot button, a prototype is often worth a thousand words. “Research the company to anticipate the challenges we’re facing, then send me a sample solution for handling a scalability issue,” Zikavashvili advised. “Or a design for a new feature, and bring it with you to the interview.”

Prototypes don’t even need to map directly onto your prospective employer’s portfolio or roadmap. “It can even be a solution that you’ve implemented in a previous job or industry,” Zikavashvili added. “Just walk me through your thought process and approach so I can see how it relates to our situation.”

Tigran Sloyan, CEO and co-founder of CodeFights, says he’s willing to review code samples, test results or prototypes to affirm a candidate’s ability to write clean, organized code. However, he’s partial to side projects that demonstrate passion, a design sense, and the ability build a product or solution.

“If you want to impress me, show me a product or something you’ve actually built in your free time,” he said. Yes, hiring managers are impressed by candidates who make an effort to connect the dots to show how their qualifications fit.

Ushering a manager through the steps you’ve taken to create a product lets you illustrate highly desirable personal traits such as conscientiousness and attention to detail; plus, it helps you draw a connection between your abilities and the job you want. Best of all, providing a miniature project plan affirms your understanding of company missions and customer approach. In fact, Zikavashvili used a similar strategy to score his first job as head of product.

“My ability to envision the product blew the CEO away,” he said. “Although I didn’t have direct experience, I was able to show him that I had the ability to create it.”

Be Authentic

While you don’t want to overemphasize your negative traits or appear to lack confidence, don’t oversell yourself. An experienced hiring manager can easily spot attempts to overcompensate for any professional shortcomings. For instance, you don’t need to agree with every argument or idea the manager puts forward; it’s okay to express a dissenting opinion, so long as you can back it up. But most of all, be fully transparent about what you know (and don’t know).

Demonstrate self-awareness by openly discussing experiments and failures, and objectively analyzing mistakes on past projects. Managers don’t expect you to know everything, and they’ve made mistakes, too. In other words, don’t try to be someone you’re not—presenting the “real you” is key.

Respond Quickly

The way you communicate with a hiring manager can even compensate for a lack of technical knowledge—or, conversely, doom your chance at the job completely, no matter how good your technical skills.

For example, Sloyan views timely follow-ups and quick responses to requests as a sign of interest, as well as a preview of how a candidate is likely to “handle things on the job.” The pace at smaller companies is fast, he explained, so proactive people are essential.

“I’m impressed by candidates who are super-fast in responding to emails and who stay on top of things throughout the hiring process,” he noted. “A quick response signals diligence, hunger and excitement, and those traits are bound to impress any hiring manager.”

Comments

21 Responses to “Surefire Ways to Impress Your Next Hiring Manager”

October 03, 2017 at 6:25 pm, John White said:

One thing you left out. It helps to be a white guy. Because white supremacy must be maintained in technology. And employing blacks in technical positions wouldn’t fit the white supremacist narrative. I dare any of dices commentators to write a counter wieght to this view, In fact the racists censors will probably block this comment from there platform. And then I will just go back to my platform where my listeners are and say ‘I told you so’.

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October 04, 2017 at 6:55 pm, Anthony Veronesi said:

Seems like you have some first hand experience at failing. Just like every other person in this field. I failed many times before I landed my first tech job. I can also tell from your salty attitude, that you gave up and decided to put blame on others. Probably the most racist way of looking at the world. Your basically saying that black people are inferior, and therefore have no chance in the tech world.

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October 04, 2017 at 8:32 pm, John Doe said:

*their

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October 05, 2017 at 1:55 am, Daniel said:

Cool story, John. Also, it’s ‘their platform’ not “there platform”.

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October 05, 2017 at 6:15 am, Wright Blackmon said:

Very interesting view. I’m almost thinking this is very true.

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October 05, 2017 at 6:30 am, Rellim said:

What a convenient and oh so familiar excuse for your own personal failings. Enjoy the miserable reality that you’ve created for yourself.

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October 05, 2017 at 6:43 am, Thomas E. Phillips, Jr. said:

This is just so very, very sad. One of the things I have always liked about computer programming is the lack of racism and sexism, even ageism I’ve encountered. This is not to say I haven’t run into people “out to get me” for various reasons, but the reasons were always individual and personal, not because I was a member of any particular group. Now I’m not saying it didn’t happen, because I don’t know you John White, but I would ask you not to draw the wrong conclusions from whatever has happened to you. Of all the evils of mankind, racism is arguably the stupidest, and I’m old enough to have had relatives try to explain it to me (I thought they were kidding!). In 2017 most computer programmers in Americas aren’t racists because it is just so dumb, and if you will open your mind a bit, I think you will find it largely true and you can join us in a much more realistic fear… of normal people (non-computer programmers).

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October 05, 2017 at 6:57 am, Meg Shipley said:

And in the meantime, while making an equally derogatory and defamatory statement, you’ve offered no real solutions to the problem you’ve presented as a straw man to this piece. Do your listeners also criticize your grammar and presentation? OR, do they follow your idiocy & eat it with a spoon?

While the issues you state exist, there is nothing inherently racist OR “white supremacist” about the tech arena. PoC are simply not encouraged in this area as much as they could be from schools upward to the industry. You could help this cause by doing something constructive/productive instead of making comments like these, pointing fingers aimlessly, and lessening the importance of certain serious terms by throwing them out for every ill-perceived slight you personally register. Stop making a victim of yourself and PoC; start championing the community and making a positive example of yourself.

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October 05, 2017 at 6:57 am, Joe said:

Huh? Whatever you’re on, cut the dose.

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October 05, 2017 at 7:49 am, Jeff Mazur said:

Whatever your problem is, whether it’s a chip on your shoulder, or guilt, you can start by recognizing that the competing candidate pools are disparate by a factor of >8 (>8 times as many white college graduates as black would be expected statistically) – calculated by comparing the products of (graduation rate times percentage of population) for each. So now, go back to your precious platform and get numbers on how much worse-represented the blacks are compared to this number, and if so, why we shouldn’t think that part of that number isn’t disinclination on the part of the black potential candidates (for example, that lower proportions choose tech majors.)
Ultimately, there might be some racist component in what you’re saying you observe, but I’m not convinced yet. I was led to write this reply, to begin with, by your whining, and then, ultimately, by the realization that when I thought about it I couldn’t remember seeing many black students at all in my engineering courses at college.
Waiting for your reply.

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October 05, 2017 at 8:09 am, Rick said:

You realize that by generalizing an entire race you’re being a racist. I worked my butt off for the last 25 years and no one gave me anything I didn’t earn. Get out and work hard and maybe you’ll be successful. I doubt it with your attitude.

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October 05, 2017 at 9:21 am, Geoff Kristoph said:

As a white guy, I’m sure you’re right — depending on geography. You’re probably speaking of the left coast, particularly northern. But here in the south (Atlanta, Charlotte, Birmingham, et al), the reverse is stark and well defined. The new south is typically 47%-47%-3% (Black-white-other), and what you say just ain’t so. In fact, I’ve been edged out by guys with deep tans who had half the qual’s I do in many cases. Change is tough, but about all you can count on. Embrace it. Go where you’re wanted. All but the very least enlightened companies are paying within a 10% window to anyone who can do the job. Jobs are harder to get here, because they are fewer. But, don’t get caught up in loser talk like your missive. While you’re entangled with it, some younger, charming female is taking your job, and now the battle is AGE DISCRIMINATION!
I wish you well.

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October 05, 2017 at 9:48 am, known associate said:

John White….perhaps you should try taking some responsibility for yourself. A real man takes his own personal inventory, and doesn’t make excuses by blaming everyone but himself for his own failures and shortcomings. In other words, you have no one to blame but yourself. Now, I know you overgrown babies these days have been taught to blame everyone else but yourself. However, if you really expect to get anywhere in life, you need to start acting like an actual man and put down the baby rattle, get off the pity-pot and grow up!

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October 05, 2017 at 10:26 am, Surffufe said:

@kohn white
Please explain all of the Asian people in the tech field and women, too? The only racist is you.

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October 05, 2017 at 10:55 am, J G said:

If you have the skills, your race will not matter. However, having this sort of chip on your shoulder will not impress anyone. In fact, we had an intern who we utilized who was overly focused on gender and discussed it often. We made plenty of examples of where women in our workplace were leaders. Even after this, she still would constantly bicker about how women were not treated equally in our work place, never mind the fact she just showed up as an intern. To top it off, she wanted to discuss how we could get in the practice hiring only women for positions and if she would get a leadership position, she would only have women in her department! In the end, her sexism proved to distracting and became a liability.
I’m not going to pretend that racism doesn’t exist. It should be viewed as the exception and not the rule. You may have had a bad experience with it or maybe your perception is doing you injustice. Did you follow up with hiring managers and ask what areas you could improve to attract them to your service? Regardless, if I had interviewed you and you accused me of racism when there wasn’t any, I would be less likely to interview you again as it sounds like there are personal issues to resolve.
I can’t speak for all companies, but I can say that many that are successful realize that the broader culture the work place received, the bigger advantage it has from a broader cultural view point in decisions. In technical work, that is true, but it’s also what extra skills one brings to the table. Suppose I am interested in hiring a system engineer, and two candidates show up. One has experience also in development. It would make sense for me to consider that engineer first because he brings extra skills that can help the team if need be (which in the age of DevOps, it demonstrates such). That’s how the cultural fit can happen from a technical perspective.
I empathize with your situation in feeling insecure about your consideration based on race, as there are plenty of other protected classes that have to face such. However, all I can tell you is be so strong in what you know that even if that were an issue, they would be foolish not to consider you. That may sound silly, but with the right company, you will have your just rewards.

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October 05, 2017 at 7:18 am, Voice of Sanity said:

John White, with the EEOC breathing down the necks of multi-billion dollar companies in this industry to shake them down for money and viral social media easily weaponized into international PR nghtmares in the hands of crackpots like you, tech companies are BEGGING non white people to fill their ranks with diversity initiatives, mentorships, and positive outreach. Stop making excuses and wasting your time on Dice message boards. If you want a job, get cracking on the code.

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October 05, 2017 at 7:51 am, Jeff Mazur said:

ps – post your real name like I did, Coward John White.

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October 05, 2017 at 9:06 am, Mahindra White said:

I thought the Indians were taking over. They are more racist than the whites.

It looks like Dice has no censors!

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October 05, 2017 at 10:32 am, JohnDoe said:

To John White: Sorry that you feel excluded. I know African American people who have plenty of tech skills and they are employed and employable. They also dont have your divisive attitude which allows them to go anywhere that they want without this historical baggage and emotional disconnect that you want to cling to. Let go of it. White people want to distance themselves from the practices of their ancestors in the very same way that it is unacceptable to hit our kids. We dont want to do what our parents did and those before them. Slavery sucked and was the most degrading thing that could ever have happened to my fellow humans. Im sorry. Very sorry that it is still happening today to people OF ALL COLORS AND CULTURES. You would be my hero if you could stop human slavery and traffic. You have what it takes and thatt emotional connection. Harvest that and turn things around like I have seen many African-Americans do. By the way they happen to be more successful than me and in many cases my mentors.

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October 05, 2017 at 10:40 am, JohnDoe said:

To John White: Sorry that you feel excluded. I know African American people who have plenty of tech skills and they are employed and employable. They also dont have your divisive attitude which allows them to go anywhere that they want without this historical baggage and emotional disconnect that you want to cling to. Let go of it. White people want to distance themselves from the practices of their ancestors in the very same way that it is unacceptable to hit our kids. We dont want to do what our parents did and those before them. Slavery sucked and was the most degrading thing that could ever have happened to my fellow humans. Im sorry. Very sorry that it is still happening today to people OF ALL COLORS AND CULTURES. You would be my hero if you could stop human slavery and traffic. You have what it takes and thatt emotional connection. Harvest that and turn things around like I have seen many African-Americans do. By the way they happen to be more successful than me and in many cases my mentors. Regardless it pains me to know that people like you have this bitter attitude towards whites and an indutry. Question: What would it take or what could I do to change your attitude? Give you a job? If you failed at that job would it be because you are Black and I am a White person? If so you need to take a long introspective look at yourself. Ask yourself is this really how things are? Are your skills up to date and are you competitive in an ever changing industry that is continuously growing? Is this the right industry for you? Many questions….

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October 06, 2017 at 2:00 pm, John White said:

Well clean my chitlins, Dice actually posted my comment. And so many reactions, WOW. Although I’m not surprised at most of the comments. They range from attacking me to intellectualizing their white supremacist views. I know white people must protect white supremacy and the white privilege it brings. You guys proved that once again with the election of Trump, if not a direct supporter of white supremacy he is certainly tolerant of it and I suspect a lot of you are too. Oh and before you say “a lot white people voted for Obama” only 40% of you voted when to the safety black person in America, the majority of you voted for the White guy. Enjoy deluding yourself while you can, in a few decades you won’t have the luxury of numerically superiority and you will have to actually compete on a truly equal footing. Perhaps the advise Leslie give will mean something to the black community by then.

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