Build Relationships with Hiring Managers to Interview Better

In the story of interviewing for a job, sometimes the hiring manager can become the villain. After all, if you’ve been on interview after interview, sometimes it seems like they’re listing the perfect job for you over and over again only to pull it out from under your feet after the interview.

Who’d want to be friends with a villain? Not me, that’s for sure. And so it’s worth considering that the attitude of me versus you might not be the healthiest one to bring into your interview.

Instead of focusing on why the next hiring manager won’t hire you, reframe your perspective. Consider ways in which you can develop a better relationship with a hiring manager to make each interview a deeper and more satisfying interaction whether you get the job or not. Here are four ideas to help you get started:

Lose your preconceived notions

Have you been strung along by a hiring manager in a past interview situation? Let it go. Just as you hope the hiring manager will not hold you accountable for the rude interviewee who answered a phone during the meeting so you should be willing to start this manager off with a clean slate.

Do your best to enter every interview with an eager sense of curiosity about the person you’ll meet. Be prepared to accept them as they are and make inquiries as to who they are as a person.

Use all communication methods thoughtfully

Don’t save your best impression for your in-person meeting. Starting with your very first email, be polite and thoughtful when you communicate with the hiring manager. Personalize your emails to the person you’re speaking with, check for good grammar and spelling errors and put some thought into your email title.

Escape into the interview

The goal of an interview is to get a sense of how you work, how you think and who you are. If you’re an introvert like 50 percent of the population, it may be hard for you to put that much pressure into one 30-minute period of time without getting distracted or feeling like you can’t be yourself.

However, the key to forming a good relationship with a hiring manager is to be yourself.  To help you feel more comfortable, don’t think of a job interview as a pressure performance. Try thinking of it as a brief opportunity to escape your day-to-day and to make a connection with someone else. If you focus on the one-on-one feel of two people having a conversation it will be much easier to feel that a connection is being made.

Ask about the interviewer

One of the best ways to connect with people is to ask them about themselves. If you can get them talking about their passions and get them feeling as if you are genuinely interested in what they are saying, they will open up to the idea that a worthwhile relationship is being formed.

It might seem like this approach to building a relationship with the hiring manager makes it more of social call than a job interview, but there are plenty of ways to ask about the interviewer and get a personal connection while still keeping things professional. For example, ask them about their relationship with the company in different ways, such as “What made you decide to work for X?” Or “What are you most proud of about this organization?” Questions like these keep the conversation on topic but also reveal opportunities for a more intimate, personalized discussion.

Are all hiring managers villains? Definitely not. They’re just hard-working company representatives trying to fill the open position with the best candidate possible. And the best way for you to be seen as the best candidate is to forge a better relationship with the hiring manager.