When it comes to landing that perfect new job, nailing the interview is often the most critical step for any job seeker. According to experts, only 2 percent of candidates for any given position land an interview. Those interviews, in turn, only last an average of 40 minutes, giving candidates very little time to make a lasting impression on the hiring manager and to convince them that they’re the right person for the role.

Harvard Business Review recently highlighted three questions that all hiring managers want candidates to answer. Read on to ensure you’re prepared the next time you’re part of the lucky 2 percent.

1. “What will it be like to work with you?”
Your résumé and cover letter offer hiring managers a broad picture of your abilities and can only go so far in describing what it’s like to work with you. That means that an interview is an opportune time for hiring managers to gain a better sense of what it would be like to have you as a team member. Are you pleasant to interact with? Are you outgoing? Do you demonstrate a strong desire to work hard?

Re-framing an interview in your own mind as a social interaction — one where it’s just as important to develop a rapport as display your expertise — will help you build a deeper connection with the hiring manager. Instead of the interview feeling like an exam where you’re required to produce the correct answers, it should feel like a conversation with a trusted colleague. According to the Harvard Business Review, this encourages greater synchronization between your brain and the interviewer’s, which can lead them to think of you as someone who belongs at the organization, too.

2. “Can you learn?”
Chances are, you already have many of the skills required for the job. But every position, regardless of how qualified you are for it, has a learning curve. The interview is a great opportunity for hiring managers to gauge your level of interest and willingness to learn.

One easy way to demonstrate this is by not skating over questions that might seem unclear or difficult to answer. Instead, Harvard Business Review recommends candidates admit their lack of understanding on what is being asked. This can show potential employers that you’re willing to ask questions, seek additional information, and take initiative to better yourself and your career.

3. “Do you take initiative?”
Almost every hiring manager you come in contact with throughout your career will be looking for one thing: a self-starter. Time after time, this is touted as the most desirable characteristic among potential employees. Therefore, interviewers will very likely be looking for hints throughout the course of your conversation that you can take initiative and self-motivate.

According to the Harvard Business Review, the best way to demonstrate that you can, indeed, take initiative is by showing up well prepared for the interview. You should have a very clear idea of what the company does, its mission and goals, as well as its general history. You should have well-thought-out, well-rehearsed answers for some of the most popular interview questions.

For a deeper look at the three questions hiring managers want candidates to answer, read the full article from Harvard Business Review here.

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