Hiring Truths: Over 850 Managers Reveal Their Practices and Opinions


With the national unemployment rate falling to a 17-year low of 4.1 percent in 2017 and job recruiting becoming more difficult for employers looking to attract new talent – now may be the right time for employees to seek higher-paying jobs.


Of course, that doesn’t mean some of the most in-demand careers with the highest salaries won’t be competitive. Looking to be an IT manager, management consultant, pharmacist, or supply chain manager? Landing these high-profile gigs could take more than just talent.


To learn more about what it takes to truly stand out, we surveyed over 850 U.S. employees responsible for hiring either currently or the in past. We asked hiring managers to break down the do’s and don’ts for standing out and making a strong impression at the next job interview. Curious whether you should send a follow-up email, or want to know just how bad it is to show up late? Keep reading.

What to Expect at Your Next Interview


There’s plenty of good online advice on preparing for an upcoming interview. Understanding the role, deciding on what to wear in advance, and practicing some of your best stories aloud are all good tips before sitting down with a hiring manager. Of course, nothing is as helpful as having a clear expectation of the questions an interviewer might throw your way, though.


It turns out that resumes aren’t just a formality. Of the 850 hiring managers polled, only 10 percent preferred not to conduct a formal interview before hiring, 16 percent didn’t read through the entire resume, and just 34 percent glossed over cover letters. While some information is crucial to a successful resume (including accomplishments, key metrics, and any relevant credentials), other callouts were less meaningful to a majority of employers. Sixty-five percent of hiring managers confessed to not verifying an applicant’s education, 56 percent didn’t call a candidate’s former employers, and 52 percent didn’t check for a criminal background.



The odds of getting asked why you’re looking for a new job are fairly high (only 44 percent of staffing managers left it out), so crafting your response beforehand could be key to making a solid impression. According to 78 percent of interviewers, the ideal candidate’s response would involve taking on more responsibility and growing in their career.

Sending the Right Message


Technology and an evolving economy may have revolutionized the professional landscape, but the secrets to success (in life or work) have stayed fairly consistent. If you want to be happy, healthy, and successful, you’re going to need good solid relationships to help get you there.


In an interview, a candidate only has a small window of time to bond with a hiring manager. Whether your interview lasts 30 minutes or two hours, there are a few behaviors that could leave a lasting impact on your chances for success. According to over 850 hiring managers, the No. 1 thing a job applicant could do to make a bad impression was clear: show up late to an interview. Ninety-three percent said a tardy arrival made them less likely to hire a person, followed by whining (92 percent), not being prepared (89 percent), and bad-mouthing a former boss (88 percent).


Ways to leave a positive impression on an interviewer? Eighty-three percent of hiring managers were impressed with a portfolio of sample work, followed by arriving early to an interview (75 percent), a phone call to follow up on an application, and sending a single follow-up email (55 percent each).

Marketing Yourself on Paper


Beyond conducting an interview, hiring managers agreed on reading through an applicant’s entire resume. Only 16 percent didn’t bother doing this, so your resume needs to make a powerful impression.


The most egregious mistake an applicant can make on their resume can usually be avoided: grammatical and spelling errors. While 57 percent of hiring managers said they viewed just one or two grammatical errors negatively on a resume, 84 percent had strong feelings about multiple grammatical mistakes. In fact, multiple grammatical errors left a negative impression on more hiring managers than fabricating or inventing an accomplishment, lacking an employment history, or incorporating an inappropriate font choice.


Instead, consider highlighting the following accomplishments (where applicable) to give your resume an added boost. Eighty-one percent of hiring managers positively viewed candidates having a graduate degree, compared to 80 percent for a bachelor’s degree and 66 percent for an Ivy League degree.

The Effect of Age


Hiring managers in their 20s and 30s were less fazed by an applicant running late to their interview or making negative remarks about their former boss or company than those in their 40s and 50s. In fact, these managers were only more likely to be bothered by dressing too casually and lacking eye contact.


Workplaces across the country have become multigenerational hotbeds, and part of navigating this new terrain includes recognizing the ways people from different generations communicate – whether or not they’re interviewing you for a job. While older Americans prefer a more interpersonal face-to-face style of communication, younger generations’ communication styles are often punctuated by their overwhelming use of technology.


If being interviewed by someone younger feels a bit awkward, don’t worry: Managing older employees can be weird for them as well. Experts say it’s best to put generational differences aside in the workplace if you’re going to collaborate or communicate effectively.

Knowing Your Audience


Women in charge of hiring and staffing were also more likely to be negatively affected by bad interviewing behaviors. Women were particularly put off when candidates used a gimmick in their interviews (including offering baked goods or gifts), failed to make eye contact, or talked about other interviews in their conversations.


Women in charge of hiring were also more put off by casual clothing in an interview. While what’s appropriate to wear is often up for debate, female executives have an opinion on how to use your interview wardrobe to make the best first impression. In finance or law, consider avoiding loud patterns or large accessories that can distract from the message you’re trying to convey. In contrast, if you’re applying for a job in retail or fashion, you have more of an opportunity to showcase your personal style to help steal the show.  


However, men were more irritated when candidates were nervous during interviews, had tattoos or piercings, or showed up with unnatural hair colors.  

Interview Trends by Industry


Not every industry approaches hiring and staffing the same way, and managers from various professions told us which interview practices were the most and least common in their trade.


Applying for a job in marketing or advertising? As one of the most coveted talents in 2017, these hiring managers were the most persistent in a few areas before deciding whom to onboard. They were more than likely to verify previous employment, have a new applicant complete a drug test, move candidates on to a third interview, Google them, and call their references.


Hands-on interview tactics weren’t very popular overall, except for technology. Seventy-seven percent required applicants to complete a post-interview task or assignment. And industries where hiring managers were the most relaxed about interview practices including drug tests and criminal history? Hiring managers for agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting indicated it was they in one-third of scenarios.

Tweaking Your Resume for the Job


Most hiring managers confessed to frowning on applicants who showed up late to an interview, although some studies have found running late might reflect positively on people’s personality, positivity, and creativity.


What to wear to most job interviews can be a matter of debate, but hiring managers in manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, and medical and health care were the most likely to be negatively impacted by an applicant in casual attire. And the rule that your resume shouldn’t be longer than a single page? Especially relevant to hiring managers in marketing and advertising and government and public administration, in addition to finance and insurance.


For applicants looking for new opportunities in IT and data processing, medical and health care, or finance and insurance, arriving early made the most positive impact on hiring managers. Not sure how you should follow up on your application or interview? Managers in finance and insurance had the strongest opinion of potential hires who called to follow up on their application, while hiring managers in education were the most positively affected by a single follow-up email.

Your Future Awaits

Whether you’re looking to break into your dream industry or are just taking the next step in your career, having the right expectations about interviewing could help you put your best foot forward. In competitive markets where talent alone might not be enough, connecting with the hiring and staffing team and building meaningful connections during the interview process could set you apart from the competition. Hiring managers almost universally confessed resumes were more than just a formality, and showing up late for the interview put a candidate at an immediate disadvantage.


Whether you’re looking for a career change, the opportunity to grow and develop, or just need a change of pace, let Simply Hired help you find the perfect fit. As a job search engine tailored to what matters most to you, we’ll connect you to our curated network of over 100 job boards with detailed information for thousands of industries and postings across the country. The perfect job is out there, so let Simply Hired help you find it. Visit us at SimplyHired.com to learn more.


We surveyed 862 employees in the U.S. who have hired and interviewed as a part of their job either currently or in the past. These participants were labeled as “Hiring Managers” and were recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Forty-nine percent of participants identified as female, 50 percent as male, and 1 percent who did not identify with either gender. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 74, with a mean of 37 and a standard deviation of 10.76.


Industries analyzed above had at least 26 responses, but some had more than others due to response rates. An industry was defined as the industry the respondent worked in when responsible for hiring and interviewing (if different than their current industry). Counts of responses from each industry are listed below:


Education: 97
Wholesale and Retail: 97
Finance and Insurance: 88
Medical and Health Care: 78
Hotel, Food Services, and Hospitality: 73
Technology: 62
Government and Public Administration: 54
Information Services and Data Processing: 42
Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation: 41
Manufacturing: 35
Transportation and Warehousing: 35
Construction and Utilities: 27
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting: 26
Marketing and Advertising: 26
Legal: 21
Telecommunications: 20
Real Estate, Rental, and Leasing: 19
Military: 6
Religious: 6
Publishing: 5
Broadcasting and Journalism: 3
Mining: 1


The sample size was 862 hiring managers (employees in the U.S. who have hired and interviewed as part of their job either currently or in the past). It is possible that with more participants, we could have gained more insight into this population.


The data we are presenting rely on self-reporting. There are many issues with self-reported data. These issues include but are not limited to: selective memory, telescoping, attribution, and exaggeration.



Fair Use Statement

Feel ready to take on any interview challenge now? Feel free to share the results of our study with your readers for any noncommercial use – just ensure a link back to this page so they can see these results in their entirety.