As discussed in a number of my other blogs, there are a myriad of reasons why you mightn’t have been offered the job even after what feels like a good or even ‘great’ interview. Some of those will never be known to you (or me or anyone else for that matter other than the person that makes the final decision). And like it or lump it, a few of the reasons will be completely and utterly unfair.
Without trying to start debate and without providing specific examples, employers may choose not to employ you for as many silly reasons as they might choose TO employ you! What do I mean? Simply that when process, objectivity, logic and emotion aren’t managed appropriately, “people” make some very strange decisions and these decisions are not just limited to employment. So if you do miss out on a job, try to be level-headed about it and see it for what it really is. It’s not the end of the world. You will recover from it. And there is another job out there for you (quite possibly an even better one). By all means, be disappointed. But don’t beat yourself up and don’t lash out at those that were involved in the process!
Going for a new role is a roller coaster of emotions that is brought on by the importance that we (our parents, partners, friends, peers, society, etc) all place on having a job. Accordingly, your feelings may end up getting in the way of rational thought, so below I’ve tried to highlight some of the reasons why you may not have been offered the job and where appropriate, how you can address this:
1. You just weren’t
So get over it! I wanted to put this one first, because it’s probably the toughest one to stomach. As mentioned above, sometimes you won’t get offered the job “just because” and the “because” may or may not be logical/fair/reasonable/justified/known/legal/etc. The bottom line is – YOU’LL NEVER KNOW! So rather than beating yourself up wondering why and telling yourself that you were the best person for the job and how unjust this world is, take a deep breath. SUCK IT UP. And move on. Use the frustration to be better the next time and the time after that and the time after that.
2. You were ONE of ONE HUNDRED (or more) applicants
This is a simple maths equation. One hundred doesn’t go in to one (not as a whole at least) and so with only one role on offer, 99% of the candidates are going to be disappointed. Again, I don’t tell you this so that you can make excuses not to try your darnedest to win the role. I simply mention it because the reality of it is that there is going to be one “winner” and a whole lot of “losers”. They are not losers in life or in work or in anything else. They simply lost out on getting this particular opportunity. It’s all a case of perspective and if it means that you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and have another go – so what? You’ll be better the next time and the time after that. It’s tough, sure! But in this politically correct world where our kids are taught that everyone is equal (aspects of which I subscribe to) and that we are all winners (lovely sentiment, but unrealistic), the cold-hard-facts are: WIN = GET JOB. LOSE = TRY AGAIN. Simple as that…
3. You don’t fit their culture
This is a difficult one because in a lot of cases, you don’t necessarily know precisely what their culture is actually like and even if you did, you can’t change who you are in the hope that you might fit (even if you could, firstly you’d be found out pretty quickly, but more importantly – you’d most likely be very uncomfortable/unhappy as it wouldn’t be right for you either)!
Cultural fit is a two-way street. It’s as much about how you’ll fit the organisation as it is how the organisation will fit you. When this match is right – it’s fantastic for both parties. When it’s not……..it’s uncomfortable at best and untenable and toxic at worst! A good interviewer and particularly one in an organisation with a clear and articulated culture will be able to slice through your demeanour, responses and presentation to see whether you’re a fit for them. What you need to be able to do is to master these same skills so that you are able to see if what they are presenting fits for you!
SUGGESTION: Know who you are and what you want. Sounds simple and it should be – don’t overly complicate things. If you’re a corporate-type that finds comfort in a hierarchy for example, look for a job in the CBD that offers this sort of environment and don’t look at jobs in the ‘burbs in a warehouse environment or say a shorts & t-shirt-type creative agency. Or for that matter – working from home! Know what makes yo comfortable:
– structure or flexibility?
– guidance or autonomy?
– big team or small team?
– hard-line or empathetic?
– high pressure or laid back?
– honest or hard-nosed?
– customer facing or back of house?
– environmentally, community & socially responsible?
– making a difference or making a dollar?
– sales or support?
Not that the above points are opposites or mutually exclusive! They are just some thoughts on the sorts of things you should be asking yourself so that you’ll fit in and can look for companies that provide the sort of environment/roles that will make you happy. The off-shoot of this is that you are also much more likely to “get on” in an interview because you, the company and the interviewer will be aligned culturally!
4. You’re desperate!
Let’s face it: desperation is not an attractive trait in any relationship and employer/employee is a relationship, so it needs to start off on the right foot. I recognise that it’s not easy coming across as not being desperate when there’s a lot riding on you getting the job (paying the bills; getting a new car; going on that holiday; stature amongst your peers; ego; etc), but the challenge is to come across as present as keen, interested and available (for the right opportunity) as opposed to needy and willing to take anything that comes along!
SUGGESTION: Do your research. Be prepared. Plan what you want to say and how you want to say it. Role play if you have to so that you can be comfortable when the time comes. And when the time does come, be cool, calm and collected in the interview. Note: I don’t mean aloof and distant – being warm and approachable will go a long way, just don’t be too “wishy-washy” for want of a better term! The other thing is – make sure that you bring some colour to your interview – not literally speaking, but figuratively. Try not to be “off-white or beige”. Have an opinion and a voice, but not one that is confrontational or antagonistic. Know where you are going, what you are doing and what you need, but don’t make it all about you. And above all else – be yourself! The majority of people can see through a fraud and even if it’s missed at interview, a fraud will soon show up in the workplace and be moved on!
5. You interrupt too much (at least that’s the perception)
I’ve talked about this before in previous blogs. It’s so important to show that you are interested in what an interviewer has to say and that you don’t come across as you believing that the world revolves around you. What I inevitably find is that when people are prone to interrupting, they generally begin their interruption with “I” (I, I, I, I…..) and therefore what comes across whether intended or not can be: “it’s all about me”.
I totally understand that the interrupting is generally brought on by nerves and an eagerness to please (desperation maybe?) and I will always try to give candidates an opportunity to settle in to an interview as things often improve the further in to the process we get. But. It’s not always going to be someone that interviews for a living doing the interviewing and therefore, they might not be quite so aware of the importance of allowing a candidate to become comfortable.
SUGGESTION: When you’re interviewing: Stop. Listen. Pause. And then speak. Give yourself TIME!!! This can be really difficult when the palms are sweaty and the heart rate is up, but do your best to hold your nerves in check so that the interviewer(s) gets a chance to finish their question. Also, by giving them that time, you are buying yourself the time to think of an appropriate (or better) answer! And please remember: there aren’t any bonus points for answering the fastest or guessing the answer correctly – we’re not on Family Feud!
Stop. Inhale. Think. Answer.
6. You’re going to be “hard work”
Intentionally or otherwise, you might come across as one of the following (or something else completely):
– Prima Donna
– A dictator
– Under qualified (it’s going to take time to get you up to speed)
– Require too much development/training (being open to being developed is great. Coming across as not having the basic skills and hoping that they’ll be provided to you through training is not!)
– It’s all about you (see next point)
SUGGESTION: Remember, an employer is looking for someone that is going to assist them and their business. They are generally not looking to babysit a new recruit (whilst understanding that they will need to induct them and show them how ‘they’ do it). And in fairness – this will depend on the role as an entry-level position would require training, whilst a more senior role ‘should’ not.
Approach an interview from the EMPLOYER’S perspective of “What’s In It for THEM” and do your utmost to provide the interviewer with facts and evidence that you can deliver what it is that THEY want and need!
7. It’s all about you
This follows on closely from the point above – if you make an interview all about you and what you want, the message that comes across is that you’re only in it for one thing…………YOURSELF. Generally employers understand that the employer/employee relationship (there’s that word again) is as much about you as it is about them. And the really good employers are all over this – they’ll be the ones telling you all the reasons that you want to work for them! The challenge is striking a balance between gathering the information that you require without coming across as demanding, desperate or self centered! Employers, often selfishly are far more concerned about what they are going to get out of a new employee than what the new employee is going to get from them.
SUGGESTION: Learn when the right time is to ask for what you want. Usually it’s much later on in the interview process and ideally it is once you have proved your worth and know that the employer is interested in you! At this point, the ‘power’ or ‘control’ shifts somewhat from you wanting (needing) the job to them needing (wanting) you! Wait until you know they are genuinely interested in you and then if you are going to make specific requests, know what’s reasonable and what the industry is offering. And above all else: be realistic.
In conclusion, there are so many possible reasons why you may or may not have been offered the job! Where practical, try to speak with the interviewer to see if you can obtain some (valuable? – often you won’t be told the real reasons because people dislike confrontation and shy from being constructive) feedback in the form of constructive criticism. But before you get to this stage, go in with realistic expectations and with the knowledge that no matter how “perfect” that YOU think that you are for the job, you just never know who ELSE is just that little bit more perfect (for whatever reason that might be…).
Landing the right job is more often than not, a numbers game. Stay positive. Apply for the right sorts of roles (appropriate to your skills and experience). And only apply for those where you think there is a cultural fit. And be realistic – you’re not always going to get the job, no matter how “perfect” you or it is! In fact, more often than not, you won’t get the job. So, if you don’t…
…STAY POSITIVE. You might just be on the road to something even better and more suitable to YOU!