You Interviewed Well, So Why Didn’t You Get the Job?

Crystal balls, fortune tellers and Ouija boards can’t always answer that question. However, we will go over some of the reasons why maybe it didn’t work out.

There’s almost nothing more frustrating or even more emotional about finding out that you didn’t get an offer for a job that you really wanted. Sure, there are just plain ‘jobs’ out there and ones that are called ‘taxi’ jobs. ‘Taxi’ jobs are ones that people reluctantly accept and that will hold them over financially until something better comes along. Or these could be true interim positions while awaiting mergers to occur or hiring freezes to thaw.

But what about the job that you really wanted? What was it that made them go with the other person? Many books are written about how to prepare for an interview; whether by phone or in person. However few are written for after the fact. Those of us in staffing, HR, or anyone responsible for hiring, can give endless stories, both comical and not, as to why someone was passed over. Even though one looks good on paper, or is given a stellar recommendation, most hiring managers will agree that it comes down to two words: ‘best fit’.

Every company wants to hire the person that will ‘fit’ in. This delicate balance takes into consideration our acronym SPACER: Stability, Personality, Attitude, Cultural, Educational and Reputation. Experience is a given so that is not included. Any of these issues can either make or break getting that next career break.

Stability imparts either the number of years held at one job to the extent of how many jobs one has held during a period of time. Job-hopping is a big red flag to every company. Be prepared to go into detail if you have more than four jobs in ten years. Too much moving around conveys instability.

Personality is simply how you come across initially in an interview and how you are perceived to get along with your team. Any hint that there might be trouble in paradise will kill the deal.

Attitude is everything! Show the desire, the want of something and you can achieve almost anything. Go into an interview with a great attitude, and of course, the right experience, and you will definitely be on the short list.

Cultural fits are the trickiest. These can combine a Southern distributor that only wants a new ‘Southern’ Manager because they don’t believe that someone from Chicago or California would understand ‘how things worked’ down there. Trying to convince a manager that an ‘outsider’ could do just as good a job as someone from the area is difficult and most of the time futile.

Another type of cultural fit would be mutual interests of both the candidate and the interviewer. Finding a common bond is Sales 101 and this is where applicants get to sell themselves. It could be a common educational institution, a hobby passion, a sports infatuation, mutual work experience, etc. Smart interviewees do this research on their interviewers beforehand.

Education in our industry has always been important and more companies are jumping on board the extensive training that organizations like NAED and NEMRA provide. College educations are becoming the norm now so people must find ways to set themselves apart. Resumes that show a thirst for knowledge, personal growth and completion of industry training is becoming huge. Bottom line is, if a company is willing to pay for your training or higher learning, take it! Education is something that can never be taken away.

Reputation and character are key in any industry and will follow you around for the rest of your career. One wrong statement made in haste or a lapse in judgment can create issues that may take years, if ever, to live down. Apologies and mea culpas are fine but we all know of people who made poor mistakes and do not have the career paths that they should have. It’s best to repair any issues immediately to avoid long-term problems.

Many interviews go great but it’s what happens afterwards that makes a deal go south. It could be something as simple as one not sending a thank-you note or email, maybe it was that thing you said that you wish you could take back, or perhaps you name-dropped the wrong name. Most of the time, there isn’t one clear reason why people don’t get offers; it’s usually a combination of
things. The advice we give is two-fold: 1) Don’t take anything personally as this is a business and 2) persevere and don’t give up! In the end, maybe it wasn’t the right ‘fit’ after all.

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