(By Suzanne Lucas)
“As much as we like to think it should be all about the skills, it’s not. Different cultures are better for different people. I once interviewed at a place where the hiring manager explained cheerily that the dress code had just been changed and now women were allowed to wear pants! This was in 1999. They didn’t offer me the job, but probably because I wore pants to the interview. Skills? I had them. Cultural fit? No“.
Job hunting is painful, tedious, and often emotionally devastating. But, not all rejection should be taken personally. In fact, there are many reasons why you didn’t get the job–and some have nothing to do with you and your skills. Here are 10.
1. The job disappeared. You’d think that when a company posts a job, sources resumes, and conducts interviews, that they would know that they want to hire someone. But, that’s not always true. Sometimes, there are disagreements over which department gets the headcount. Sometimes funding is moved to somewhere else. Sometimes, they just decide not to fill the job.
2. The definition of the job changed. Just like a job disappearing, sometimes during the interview process, the hiring manager will decide that she needs different skills than the ones listed in the original job description. It’s easier to change who you hire than to change the tasks after someone is on board.
3. The interview was fake. Some companies have policies that a certain number of people have to be interviewed for each position–regardless of the fact that the hiring manager has already decided who to hire. You got dragged in to mark off the proper check boxes on the form, but never had a chance of getting the job.
4. The recruiter had some weird idea. Recruiters are funny people. Most are awesome, but some will reject you because you have scuffs on your shoes. I wish I were joking. For instance, Kimberly Patterson listed some unknown “rules” recruiters have, like don’t show up on time for an interview–be early; don’t ask how long the interview will take; and don’t give too short of answers. Most recruiters aren’t horrible like these are, but some do have their games.
5. You’re not a good cultural fit. As much as we like to think it should be all about the skills, it’s not. Different cultures are better for different people. I once interviewed at a place where the hiring manager explained cheerily that the dress code had just been changed and now women were allowed to wear pants! This was in 1999. They didn’t offer me the job, but probably because I wore pants to the interview. Skills? I had them. Cultural fit? No.
6. They can’t meet your needs. Normally, we think about companies looking for people to do certain jobs and if you can do what they need, you’re in. But, smart companies also want to make sure you’re the right fit. If you’ve expressed your desire for flexibility and they know they can’t offer that, they’ll reject you. If you’re the type of person who works all the time and demand that from your staff, a company that has policy of no emails after 8:00 won’t hire you, because their policies won’t work for you.
7. You can’t agree on salary. Theoretically, salaries should be based on market rates and nothing more. In reality, there’s a ton of stuff that goes into salary. If you’re looking for something higher than what they can offer, they won’t proceed with the interview process. Why waste everyone’s time?
8. Your (bad) reputation proceeded you. Often people think they can burn bridges at old jobs because they’ve moved on to newer and better. The problem is, the world is small and the secretary who observed you doing your “epic” quit 3 years ago, is now the Administrative Assistant to the Sr. VP of Marketing. She gave him a heads up when your resume came across his desk. You didn’t even know her name, but she surely knows yours, and now you’re not hired.
9. You blew the interview. Sometimes interviews simply go badly. It wasn’t that you did anything wrong–you didn’t answer your cell phone, pick your nose, or insult the interviewer–you just didn’t rock it. Sometimes you have bad days.
10. There was someone better than you. Often people identify themselves as perfect for the job, but you never get to vet the other candidates. Just because you fit all the listed qualifications doesn’t mean someone else isn’t better than you are.
Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers.