By Neil Patrick
There are six job interview situations, in which it doesn’t matter how good you are, how excellently your perform at the interview, you will not get hired.
For all the talk about excellent hiring practices, process quality, talent management, investing in people, the hiring process has always been and will continue to be imperfect.
If you are struggling to understand why you didn’t get hired for a job you were easily the best candidate for, I’m willing to wager that one of the following six reasons applied.
Here they are:
1. The comfort factor. These are legitimate reasons from the employer’s point of view. They include your current or previous salary level, relocation requirements, and recent experience. You may be perfectly willing to settle for a lower salary than you have enjoyed previously. You may also be perfectly happy to up sticks and move to the other side of the country. And learn any new skills that may be required. But the employer will perceive that these adjustments will make you feel uncomfortable and hence less motivated. Result: you’re rejected.
2. Your age. I’m not just talking about discrimination against older candidates here either. For some roles, the grey hair factor is a definite plus. Of course it’s nonsense. And yes it’s also illegal, but it’s so easy to dodge the accusation of age bias, that plenty of employers can and do.
3. The internal candidate. Firms will sometimes advertise a position even when they have no intention of hiring because they have an internal candidate lined up. But the company wants to legitimise this decision, so they benchmark the internal candidate against who else is available. The odds are heavily stacked against you in this situation. The internal candidate, who is a known quantity is almost guaranteed to get the job.
4. You’re better than your boss. Again, this is almost impossible to win; the hiring manager feels that you are so competent that you could do their job. Even if you don’t want their job, and are fully prepared to be a supportive sub-ordinate, they will worry that your expertise may expose shortcomings in their own. The outcome is they will choose a less well qualified candidate.
5. Looks matter. Nepotism is alive and well. So is positive discrimination that favours the physically attractive. The sad truth is that if you’re up against someone with film star good looks, they’ve got an automatic bonus card over you. I won’t even discuss what happens when a hiring manger feels a strong physical attraction to a candidate.
6. Incompetent interviewers. Hiring managers are rarely trained interviewers. This has always been a problem, and it’s become worse. In the tough times we have gone through, interview skills training for every manager is a luxury few can afford. The result is that at best your technical competencies will get a fair appraisal, but your other soft competencies and value adding capabilities will not. Worse an untrained interviewer may be easily influenced by a less competent candidate that can dazzle them with slick talking.
If you have an interview failure and any one of these situations applies, you can at least take consolation that even though you were not chosen, it doesn’t reflect badly on you.
Yes, it’s not fair. Yes it may be counterproductive for the employer. But you can walk away with your self-confidence intact…and that’s exactly what you should do. Never take such situations personally and move on, safe and confident in the knowledge that you were not beaten by a better person.
If you've experienced any of these situations, do please share these in the comments below.