Decoding the Hiring Manager Message

by | Mar 6, 2020 | Interviewing

In many ways, the employment field and Hiring Managers have their own vocabulary. Many times what they say to you has additional meaning that is not readily apparent to the average job seeker. Understanding what a Hiring Manager may really means when they give you a message can help you better focus your job search and provide a clearer understanding about where you stand with that company.

Let’s take a look at some messages that a Hiring Manager may provide and what they really may be trying to tell you.

  • Use of Over Qualified – Most Hiring Managers will not use that term, but for some this may be the message. Many Hiring Managers try to avoid using it because of the inference that may be made towards age. Hiring Managers may be trying to tell you that they do not think you will be happy in the position. This unhappiness may be due to what you have already accomplished in your career compared to the minimal challenge of the position in question. The fear of the Hiring Manager is that you will not stay in the position and begin looking in a relatively quick fashion. Turnover is bad for a Hiring Manager, as it reflects poorly on their hiring decisions and their ability to train. It also costs money to hire and train a person and this expense is something that a Hiring Manager would like to avoid. A company may also feel that an under-challenged person will not work as hard due to feeling demotivated. It also may be a way of the Hiring Manager informing you that they cannot afford you. Oftentimes, a Hiring Manager will feel uncomfortable informing a job seeker that they are outside their range due to believing it reflects poorly on the wages of the company.
  • Use of Under Qualified – Companies are a little bit more comfortable using this term since it is usually not tied to age. Generally the Hiring Manager is trying to inform you that they need a more seasoned inpidual in the position. It is also a sign that they feel comfortable with the number of qualified applicants that they have received, meaning they will not have to “reach” to hire someone.
  • We Would Like to Benchmark You – Benchmarking is a term meaning that they would like to compare other candidates to you. This generally indicates that a company is fairly early in the search process. Most companies do not like to jump at the first person they like fearing that there is someone better out there that they will miss. For the job seeker, you are not out of the running, but the process is going to continue for a while. If you have the ability to wait out the benchmarking process, you may find yourself with an offer. A key is to not let the time of benchmarking allow you to become the forgotten person. Maintain contact with the prospective employer by calling him or her once a week just to inquire whether they have any questions you can assist them with.
  • Request for Additional References – Generally a company will ask for 3 references on their application. If during the process more are requested, it may simply mean that they are having trouble connecting with the ones you provided. More likely it is a sign that they did not feel that you provided the right mix of references, or they like you but have concerns and want to hear from more inpiduals. If this occurs, they probably are focusing on a specific topic to find out more information; try to determine what that may be and coach your references on what to say.
  • We Need You To Speak To “X” – This is an indication that the company has interest in you; however, there is a key player that must sign-off on you. The key player may be a Sr. level leader in the department, or even a key business partner from another department whose buy-in would be crucial for the success of the new hire. This is a good way for you to know who holds a position of significant influence.
  • This Is the First Step In The Process – The Hiring Manager is probably preparing you for a long process. Generally an indication of the need for a couple of more interviews along with the background check and drug screen process. It may be an indication of the bureaucracy of the company or the importance of the position you are seeking.
  • You Will Hear Back From Us In The Next Week or Two – If the Hiring Manager communicated this in a generic fashion without providing any more detail regarding the process, then this is usually bad news. It is a sign that the Hiring Manager does not feel connected enough to give you a sneak preview into the position or process. He or she only desires to communicate regarding the timetable of your fate. Generally communicating the next week or two message gives the Hiring Manager some time between you calling for a follow-up and their ability to provide you with a regret letter.
  • What Do You Think of What You Have Heard? – This is usually a good news question. The Hiring Manager is interested in your perceptions and opinion. Generally this is done with people that they have an interest in and whom they value their opinion. This is a great time to spin how excited you are and how well you match up with the position and the culture.

For the savvy job seeker, determining what a Hiring Manager really means when they say something may provide you some insight in the company, level-set your expectations, or even provide a competitive advantage.

As always, best of luck in your job search.

The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.

Joe Stein
WNY Human Resources Professional

Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at:
Joe Stein

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