As I’ve mentioned before, I spent some time as a hiring manager and am still the resident job hunting expert for family and friends. One of the questions I’m asked most often is, “Why do you think I didn’t get hired?” I really can’t answer that since you didn’t interview with me, but what I can do is give you a few reasons why I haven’t hired people.
There are really two major reasons why you wouldn’t get hired:
1. Because of you
2. Because of them
From there, there are a bunch of different reasons you may not have gotten the offer. Today we’ll focus on the top five reasons in both categories, from my professional experience.
BECAUSE OF YOU
1. YOU LIED
As they say on 30 Rock, “That’s a dealbreaker, ladies!” Lying on your resume is a cardinal sin, but being caught lying on your resume is a million times worse. It should go without saying that you should only have experience on your resume that you actually have. But I’ve questioned candidates about experiences they have listed and gotten the response, “Let me see that,” as they try to swipe their resume from me.
2. YOU DIDN’T FOLLOW UP
Interviewing 101, my friends. Following up after the interview is very important because if the hiring manager has five interviews scheduled and you’re the first, they’ve nearly forgotten about you by the time they wrap that final interview. You don’t need to send a fruit basket like Ralphie in Christmas Story, but you definitely should at least be sending an email. You need to make sure your name is not forgotten by the hiring manager, in a good way.
3. YOU ACTED ENTITLED
There’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance. Arrogance and entitlement are BFFs, and they’re both the worst. If you’re interviewing for an entry level position, be mindful of your experience and have realistic requests for things like salary and PTO. If you’ve never held an off-campus job, you aren’t going to land your first job making $75K with four weeks PTO because you haven’t earned that yet.
4. YOU PLAYED THE VICTIM
Bad luck happens, but you don’t need to harp on all the unfortunate events that have ever happened to you. Overcoming adversity is admirable and giving one example of that is a great way to show the strength of your character; however, talking about every bad thing ever, from your dog running away to your wife leaving (yes, I’ve actually encountered this!), will just alienate the hiring manager. It makes them wonder how you’ll turn working for them into a sob story.
5. YOU JUST AREN’T LIKABLE
This one is brutal, but it’s real. You may have all of the right experience and education, but if you aren’t likable, the hiring manager isn’t going to want you on their team. Focus on smiling, engaging with the hiring manager and being a good listener (don’t interrupt!). Being likable will get you far, both personally and professionally.
BECAUSE OF THEM
1. THEY DIDN’T HIRE ANYONE
You may not have gotten the job, but that doesn’t mean someone else did. Many time company’s think they have a need for a new position (or to refill a previous opening), but something changes. This could be caused by an internal candidate applying or a restructuring within the department. It’s not your fault, and there is literally nothing you can do about it.
2. THEY WERE INTIMIDATED BY YOU
Unintentionally, you may have intimidated the hiring manager. As an employee, I’ve encountered this. I’m a very strong personality, and I’m very driven. When I worked in insurance, I applied for an internal position and was turned down. I did some snooping and found out from a mutual friend of mine and the manager’s that the manager felt like I would put her job in jeopardy if I moved to the department. Ultimately, and largely because of that encounter, I left the company altogether. Ambition is awesome, and don’t let anyone dull your sparkle.
3. THEY HAVE A TOXIC COMPANY CULTURE
Sometimes hiring managers don’t hire someone because they know the candidate wouldn’t be happy there. This is a direct reflection of problems within the organization and has nothing to do with you as a candidate. It may be rough to be rejected, but the hiring manager is really doing you a favor because you would probably leave after just a couple months.
4. THEY HAVE PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS
More times than I can count on one hand, I’ve had candidates that I approve turned down by upper management without so much as a second interview. Upper management has an idea of the exact experience, education, and personality that they’re looking for, and they’re unwilling to consider stellar candidates who don’t check all those boxes. In the end, it’s a good thing when you don’t get an offer from a company like this because it shows that they’re unwilling to think outside the box.
5. THEY HIRED A REFERRAL
As a hiring manager, this is the worst! Referrals from upper management almost always get the job, but not because they’re the most qualified. If the hiring manager passes on a referral, they have to answer to management as to why. It’s easier for the hiring manager to just hire a referral than to deal with the fallout of hiring the best candidate.
JUST KEEP SWIMMING
Looking for a job is a full-time job. Once you ensure you’re doing all the right things (including the interviewing dos & don’ts) you can put faith in the process and trust the right company will hire you for the right reasons. Just be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the red flags we’ve discussed before.