Interviewing for a new job is an exercise in humiliation, fear, and confusion. Whether you’re interviewing for a job at a new company or just changing roles at your present employer, the process is nauseating.
You do everything you can to put your best foot forward. You get your suit pressed. You make your hair look nice. You remove spelling errors from your resume (you *do* do that, don’t you?), and you pop some Altoids before interviewing.
You meet with a dozen or so great people who act like they’d love to have you as their colleague. At the end of the process, you’re super duper excited to get that offer for the new role.
Then the call comes.
Then they tell you the “reasons” you didn’t get the role but you can’t help but question them…
“Oh we thought you were great but we’ve changed the role requirements.”
“You were a perfect fit and we had a hard choice between two great candidates”
“You’re overqualified for the role and we didn’t want you to be bored.”
“Your urinalysis came back positive for weed and PCP.” (okay… so this one is kinda legit)
Wanna know the real reasons you didn’t get the role? Here they are.
You rubbed someone the wrong way. Your personality clashed with one of your interviewers and they black balled you. It happens. Nothing you can do about your personality. And candidly, if you clashed with a couple of people, I can guarantee you wouldn’t have been happy working there.
You said something stupid. You may not have done your homework on the company or its industry. You may have inadvertently insulted someone culturally, racially, religiously, or some other way. Feet go in mouths. It happens. Replay all the conversations and facial expressions in your head. Remember any furrowed brows? Did any conversations go from warm to icy and clipped in the blink of an eye? Yeah. That.
You have unreasonable expectations. You asked for too much money, too much vacation, or too much accommodation of personal needs (do you *really* need a refrigerator fully stocked with Evian at all times?). If you come across as high maintenance or overly-entitled in the interview, they don’t want to deal with your diva-dom on a daily basis. Adjust your expectations. Make no requests or demands until they’ve fallen in love with you and are falling all over themselves to hire you.
Another candidate kicked your butt. You were good. The other candidate was a 55 gallon drum of Awesomesauce. Not much you can do about this. There are some very talented people out there. You’re going to lose sometimes. More often than not, you’ll hear “it was a tough choice.” Sometimes it was. Sometimes it wasn’t. If you have good relationships at the company, gently find out who got the role and try to understand what they have that you don’t. That’s your development plan for the coming year. Just don’t get all creeper on them and stalk the person to learn about them. That’s disturbing.
There was never really a job. Yes, some employers are sick enough to interview candidates without really having an opening. I know – it’s messed up. They’re trying to fill their talent pipeline for when they actually do have openings. There’s nothing you can do about this one after the fact. To avoid this situation, ask who the hiring manager is, ask to meet coworkers, etc. You can get a sense of “phantom jobs” that way.
They were only interviewing you as a courtesy/formality. If some big shot called in a favor to get you the interview, the company feels obligated to at least speak to you but they feel *no* obligation to hire you. Sure they waste time doing it but they avoid the risk of pissing off a board member, customer, or senior executive.
The job was already taken but they had to interview other candidates. Sometimes hiring managers write a requisition such that their pet person is the only person who could ever fit the role. By default they’ve given the role to that person but HR and Talent Acquisition departments are pretty adamant about all requisitions going through the proper process. You’ve just got to accept that sometimes the deck is stacked against you.
There you go. Those are some of the real reasons you didn’t land that job. Some are self-inflicted. Some are structural. Some you can do something about. Some you simply have to accept that the world isn’t always fair. Take this as a public service announcement for naivete prevention.
The best advice I can offer given the above is research the company and role rigorously, be low maintenance, put your best foot forward, and move on with life when you don’t land the job. Usually it’s for the best if you didn’t because the next role that pops up might be the dream job you’ve always wished for.