In past columns, I’ve focused on mistakes that job seekers should avoid during interviews. This week, I’ve changed my focus to hiring managers.

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Over the last decade that I’ve been a career coach, I’ve heard a lot of stories from job seekers about their pet peeves with hiring managers in the Puget Sound area.

Here are four of the most common candidate complaints about hiring managers — and tips to fix each issue:

Unprepared for the interview. What one client said: “When I sat down for my interview, the hiring manager dug around on his desk, and when he finally found my résumé said, ‘OK, let me take a look at your background’ and proceeded to read my entire résumé while I watched. Based on our conversation, it was obvious he hadn’t even looked at my résumé.”

Tip: Read the résumé of every candidate before his or her interview. Create a list of questions to investigate skills/experience and to uncover each job seeker’s qualifications for the position.

Conducts other work during the interview. “We had just started talking when the hiring manager received a call and stepped out of her office. When she came back, she apologized, but then started sending emails on her computer. She made me feel like I was an intrusion on her day and that filling the job wasn’t important.”

Tip: Block out the time on your calendar. During interviews, don’t take calls (let them go to voicemail) and don’t send emails or answer texts. Give each candidate your undivided attention.

Unable to discuss the job. “I asked several questions about the position, and the hiring manager looked so puzzled that I handed him my copy of the job posting. Then he told me it was just a standard marketing manager job description template that HR had pulled from somewhere and posted online.”

Tip: Before beginning the hiring process, take the time to analyze the job to determine the tasks, responsibilities and qualifications necessary for someone to be successful. Include this information in your customized job posting.

Focuses on themselves, not the candidate. “The hiring manager sat back in his chair with his hands clasped together behind his head. He talked about himself and bragged about what a great guy he is for almost the entire interview. He ended up asking only one question about my background.”

Tip: Before conducting interviews, reread the customized job posting (tasks, responsibilities and qualifications necessary). Ensure you’ve created a list of questions to ask every candidate — and then stick to the list of questions. Your goal is to find out as much as possible about the qualifications of each candidate. You are not there to discuss yourself.

Lisa Quast is a certified executive coach, and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at