Great interviews do not mean getting hired

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Apr 01

Many people have difficulty getting an interview when looking for a job. Others study the interview questions, prepare their answers, have a great interview with the hiring manager – and then never get hired. It is frustrating, of course, but expected. Interview candidates look for the logical reason for the lack of an offer. As Why wasn’t I hired? Dealing with rejection notes:

Spherion Corp, a recruitment and staffing firm, surveyed hiring managers and found the top reasons candidate don’t get hired include: not enough experience; the wrong skill mix; another candidate has better experience or skills; or the candidate was looking for more money than the position paid, according to Rebecca Callahan, senior vice president of Spherion’s Recruitment Process Outsourcing division.

These answers are good – but lacking. Most people don’t make it to the hiring manager interview if the candidate is looking for more money than the position paid – recruiters and HR staffs are too good to let that get past phone interviews. Not having enough experience would also not make it past the phone interview. The only real reason for your rejection could be that another candidate has better skills and even more experience than you. But all of that misses the other two areas of interview questions.

Remember, all interview questions are about your job skills to do the work, your motivation for wanting the position and the fit you will have with the team and hiring manager. What you are seeing above only addresses job skills.

All interviews are subjective

Good hiring managers have a checklist for what they want to see out of an interview – but you don’t know what that checklist contains. Sitting inside the hiring manager’s head is a whole culture of a company and department and a management style that filters your answers according to the hiring manager – not to your history and job performance. If your interview answers don’t hit the checklist through the company filter, you won’t get hired.

All interviews are opinions

Even if you carefully prepare your interview answers with skills, motivation and fit with the group in mind, your answers filter through the eyes of the hiring manager. If you think your whiz-bang performance example of completing a large project is great, a hiring manager could simply hear it as small in comparison the work done in the department. Or it could be much larger than the work in the department – which makes you overqualified (don’t you love getting “overqualified” as a reason for not getting the job?).

If the hiring manager’s view of your answers doesn’t match your opinion of the answers, you will have more difficulty in getting an offer. Or understanding why the great interview didn’t result in an offer.

All hiring decisions can point to justification – or not

Because of the subjectivity and opinions coming out of the interview, it is easy for a hiring manager to point one direction or another for a particular hiring decision. If the hiring manager has a harder time comfortably talking with you than another candidate – regardless of skills or motivation – the other person will have a better “fit” with the manager and team. You lose.

You can point out specific actions on a large project that make you close to the needed skills. Another candidate uses a smaller project but hits more of the “checklist” points to the hiring manager. The hiring manager can easily claim “more experience” on the hiring manager’s stuff. You lose.

Keep your confidence up

It is tough enough to get the interview. To not get any feedback when you think you’ve nailed the interview is frustrating. Worse, you don’t know how to do any of it better the next time.

Just don’t think there is a logical reason for the rejection. Interviews are social and social interactions are not logical. As much as you’d like to know that if only you had done X, Y, and Z you would have received an offer, that isn’t the case.

Sometimes, the hiring manager just isn’t that into you. So keep on plugging.

How often have you found out a logical reason for not receiving an offer after an interview from a hiring manager?

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.