So you didn’t get the job you wanted. You nailed the interview, had rapport with the interviewers, they loved you and said you’re in consideration for the job. But your recruiter said they went with someone who was a better fit. Does this sound familiar?
In my Interview workshops I ask people if they’ve been on interviews lately. Some raise their hand, so I ask them how the interviews went. Their typical response, “Not so well. I didn’t get the job.”
To assuage their disappointment by explaining they may have done perfectly well at the interview but didn’t have one of the three components employers’ look for—they didn’t meet the technical requirements for the job. Having the other two components, willing to do the job and being a good fit, just didn’t cut it. Too bad.
Let’s face it, recruiters, HR, and hiring managers are foremost concerned about your ability to handle the task assigned to you. The other two components are important, but the first priority is meeting the job specifics. This may be wrong according to Mike Michalowicz ‘s article in WSJ.com called The Best Recruits May Not Be Who You Think, but many employers don’t realize the value of the variable. He writes:
“When hiring new employees, most recruiters consider qualifications first – and last. They’re looking for someone with the best education, the most experience and the most impressive skills. This is a mistake because you can teach employees what you want them to know, you can give them the experience you want them to have, but you can’t change who they are on a fundamental level. Their attitude, values, willingness and work ethic are all ingrained in them.”
Let’s take a marketing specialist position that lists the following requirements:
- Familiarity with data storage software.
- Write copy for direct mail and electronic distribution, including web content.
- Manage relations with appropriate departments.
- Coordinate projects with outside vendors.
- Speaking with media, partners, and customers.
- Research competitors’ websites and reporting activity.
- Coordinate trade shows.
- Photo shoots/animation development, webinars, product launch planning.
- Willingness to travel 25%.
- Plus a Master’s Degree in Marketing preferred.
Now, if the other candidates have all the technical ingredients for the job, and you’re lacking webinar production experience and coordinating projects with outside vendors, have limited experience speaking with the media; the decision of whether you advance to the next round may be based on your lack of experience.
You may be perceived as someone who is motivated to work at the company, because you express enthusiasm for the duties and challenges presented; and come across as a great personality fit, because you demonstrate adaptability to any environment and management style. But these components usually aren’t weighed as heavily by the interviewers.
The fact is that most hiring authorities must be assured that you can hit the ground running. They want to hire someone who has 80%-100% of the requirements under their belt. You can’t beat yourself up for not getting the job, despite shining in every other way.
CareerCenterToolBox.com published an article called 5 Things You Need to do After the Interview, in which one of the things suggested was to evaluate your performance. It says: “Right after the interview, recall what happened. You need to start by asking yourself these three vital questions:
- What went wrong?
- What went right?
- What can be improved?
As I tell my workshop attendees, “What went wrong?” was probably the fact that another candidate presented him/herself as more qualified for the position based on his/her experience. Or there are other reasons that were out of your control. Here are five possible reasons:
- Legitimate reasons like costs to the company.
- They went with someone inside.
- You’re too good.
- Hiring managers are sometimes incompetent interviewers.
- Unfortunately hiring managers make decisions based on personal biases.
What went right? You stood up to the pressure of an interview and presented an articulate, thoughtful, and personable candidate. You answered all their questions with confidence and poise, maintained eye contact. When asked about direct experience, you highlighted transferable skills that would make the transition seamless. You learned more about what is expected at an interview.
What can improve? Ideally you’ll apply for jobs where you have 80%-100% of the job-related requirements; but don’t shy away from jobs where you only meet 75% of the requirements, because occasionally employers see other qualities in you other than the alphabet soup. Please don’t throw in the towel yet. Keep fighting the good fight!