And How to Do Better Next Time
Unnerving silence. Stiﬂing stress. A fear-inducing unknown.
Then, finally, an answer, except it isn’t the answer you were seeking! Didn’t get the job?
Interviewing is challenging. Regardless if you are trying to land your ﬁrst job or if you have had plenty of experience with interviews, it can be daunting. Then you find out you were rejected. They didn’t want you for the job. You thought you had done really well in the interview. You felt conﬁdent and knowledgeable, and you provided qualiﬁed answers to all the questions asked. And yet, you weren’t chosen.
What went wrong? What did you miss? And most importantly, what can you do better next time?
Here are three probable reasons you didn’t get the job:
1) The rejection had nothing to do with you
Most likely the hiring team was not very clear in what they were looking for and in the process of interviewing they gained clarity about what would be the right skill set and the right ﬁt. Unfortunately, you didn’t ﬁt that new proﬁle. Why is it new? They wouldn’t have invited you to an interview if they had already had the appropriate proﬁle clear in their mind. Who would invite someone at the expense of time and money that they know won’t be a ﬁt? Clearly they didn’t know.
Another possibility is that their requirements for hiring someone changed, as in they thought they needed someone like you, but now they don’t. C’est la vie! Change is constant and there is nothing you can do about it.
Either way the rejection was about the hiring team. The best way to deal with this is to not take it personally and move on. Don’t waste any more time and energy on a company that is no longer an option for you. Onward.
2) You didn’t enter into the discovery phase
You feel like you did a great job representing yourself and telling the interviewer what you know. Congratulations! Except, you missed an important step. You might have done a great job in telling the interviewer about your skills and experience, but do you know what the company needs and who they are looking for? What skills are they lacking that you are uniquely positioned to supply? What do they need? By not engaging early on in the interview with curiosity and a desire to discover who they are and what they need and want, you are missing out on a great opportunity to match your skills to their needs. You made assumptions and charged ahead with what you thought they could use. You left them feeling felt uninspired by what you have to offer.
To avoid this mistake in the future, do more listening and less talking. Leave your EGO at the door and be curious about the people and the company. People can tell if you are not interested in them.
3) You didn’t establish trust and credibility
When you are meeting an interviewer or a panel for the ﬁrst time, they obviously don’t know you. They might have read your resume and/or your LinkedIn proﬁle, but don’t be so quick to assume even that. You would be amazed how many don’t do their homework before walking into a meeting that most likely was set up by someone else. Sad, but true. Therefore, it is your responsibility to establish credibility and trust. Accept that challenge within the ﬁrst five minutes. If you can’t get there within five minutes, your chances of being selected are greatly reduced. Why else should they spend any time with you? Why would they offer you a job if they don’t trust you?
The best way to establish trust is by asking open-ended questions, such as “What do you need from our conversation today that will help you make a decision?” “What skills or capabilities are you looking for?” “What do you need from me that will give you conﬁdence in moving forward?” Or my all-time favorite, “What would be valuable in the conversation for you today?” Practice asking these questions with your kids, your spouse, strangers in the grocery store, etc. Be mindful that the focus is on the other person and not on you. Leave your EGO at the door when you want to establish trust.
Since the way to establish trust and discover the other is through asking questions, you might come across an interviewer who is keen on asking questions as well. In that case, enter into a mutual question-and-answer ping pong, also called a dialogue. It’s a balanced exchange of information, based on mutual respect. Meeting the interviewer as an equal rather than a superior is key. In a sense you are engaging in a conversation about what might be possible.
Not only is the interviewer attempting to gauge if you are a good ﬁt, likewise you are trying to ascertain if the company is a good ﬁt for you. They might not be, in which case it is best to walk away. If you are not sure if a company is a good ﬁt for you and you need clarity on what it is you really want, feel free to reach out to me.