Just as the goal of any job candidate is to find the best position out there, the goal of any hiring manager is to identify, and ultimately hire, the ideal applicant for the role being advertised. But filling new positions can be challenging from a management perspective. In fact, it takes the average U.S. company 52 days to fill a job opening, and while some of that might boil down to certain inefficiencies in the interview process, in many cases, it's a matter of needing time to weed through dozens of candidates and pinpoint that one superstar of the lot.

If you're in the market for a new job, here's something you should know: Hiring managers almost universally agree that an informed job candidate is one worth considering. That's the latest out of Glassdoor, whose just-published Informed Candidates Survey offers great insight as to what it takes to set yourself apart from the pack and land the role you've been hoping to snag.

Two women and two men sitting in chairs in a line

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

So what does it mean to be an informed candidate? Managers around the globe agree that the following three traits give applicants the strongest chance of getting hired:

  1. Being prepared for interviews and asking relevant questions.
  2. Demonstrating the right experience for the role.
  3. Knowing what the job entails.

In addition, 74% of hiring managers feel that candidates have more than enough access to the information they need to meet those criteria -- they just need to know where to look.

Preparing for interviews

Giving the right impression at an interview isn't just a matter of throwing on a business suit and being on time. Rather, you'll need to come in having done your research not just on the company and role you're applying to, but also on the industry as a whole. If, for example, you're applying for a project-management role at a clothing company, you'll want to dig up data on the clothing industry and find out what challenges it's currently facing, and what trends it seems to be embracing.

But your homework doesn't end there. If you're given the names of the people you'll be interviewing with in advance, look them up on LinkedIn to see if they have accessible profiles, and study their roles and experience so you know who you're dealing with. Knowing more about your interviewers will give you a chance to play up the skills they seem to value based on the ones they highlight on their profiles themselves.

Finally, don't shy away from asking thoughtful, pertinent questions during an interview. If necessary, jot down a list of talking points in advance, and consult it right before you enter the room. Not asking questions gives interviewers the impression that you're not interested enough to dig deeper into the company or role, and that's something that could instantly work against you.

Showcasing your experience

Maybe you spent years as a copyeditor before landing a job as a marketing associate. That's all fine and good, but if you're applying for a marketing manager role, you'll want to focus less so on your grammatical prowess and more so on your ability to decode data, analyze trends, and spearhead successful campaigns.

In fact, demonstrating that you have what it takes for a given role starts well before the interview process. Ideally, you should tailor your resume to each job you apply to by highlighting your most relevant experience first and playing up the skills that are most likely to get you in the door. Not only will this increase your chances of getting an interview in the first place, but it'll also serve as an easy cheat sheet to reference when you go in to discuss the job.

Understanding what the job is all about

There's nothing wrong with applying for a role that's different from what you've done in the past, but if you don't come in with a good sense of what the job entails, then you're far less likely to be chosen for it. Before you go in for an interview, take the time to study the job description, and make certain you know what you're potentially getting into.

If the job description itself doesn't offer enough insight, reach out to someone in your network of contacts who either holds a similar position or knows someone who does. There's no better way to get a sense of what a job is like than by speaking to someone directly in the trenches.

Now that you know what companies really want out of job candidates, it's up to you to take this insight to heart and use it to your advantage. With any luck, it'll help you land the perfect job you've been looking for.

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