By Outside-In® Team Member Zach Werde
This blog is part of a 3-part series on Cracking the On-site Interview. This first part examines “the why” behind when you feel perfectly qualified for a role and extremely confident about your interview performance, but didn’t land the role.
We have all had this experience before. You arrive ten to fifteen minutes early to interview for a job that you are very qualified for. As a seasoned professional, you are wearing your best suit and toting several copies of your resume, a professional binder to write in, and a semi-professional pen to write with. (please, spend two or three dollars on a nice pen and leave the BIC® Round Stic® at home). After quickly building rapport with your hiring manager, you proceed to nail the interview. You are able to answer all of the questions asked of you, and you are met with visible approval and head-nodding.
Because you came prepared for your interview, you know that when it is over, you need to ask exceptional, insightful questions, and you do. As the interview concludes, the hiring manager shakes your hand firmly, thanks you for your time, and says that you will hear from them “soon”. But, you have done your homework, and you know that your work is not yet finished. Not until you send a thank you note to your interviewer. Later that evening when you get home, you take a half hour of your time and compose an insightful thank you note, which thanks your interviewer for his or her time and incorporates some personalization from the interview to reiterate why you are interested and qualified for the role.
Then, what happens? NOTHING! Three days go by, so you send a follow up email to your interviewer and you are met with no response. Finally, a week goes by, and you get the dreaded email that you have seen all too many times. “We regret to inform you that at this time we have elected to move forward with other candidates who are better suited for this opportunity…” What happened?? You were perfectly qualified for the role, you nailed the interview, you did EVERYTHING right! And yet you are right back where you started, with a resume in your hand and nothing but pending applications to sleep on.
BUT WHY? HOW CAN THIS BE? Let’s break it down. Hopefully these notes make you feel at least a little better. Or at least more confident that you didn’t do anything wrong. When you feel perfectly qualified for a role and extremely confident about your interview performance, but didn’t land the role – any of the following could be the reasons why.
First let me share that no matter how qualified you are, there can always be someone “more” qualified. Even if you have worked in a comparable position for the last ten years, there may always be someone else who has similar experience but a higher degree. Or more relevant industry experience. Or a certification that you don’t have.
Second, even if you are the most qualified candidate and you interview well, that is sadly no guarantee of getting the position. The employer’s bureaucracy may dictate that an internal applicant gets the position. Sometimes the position was created to replace an employee who decided to leave but that person changes their mind and decides to stay. So the position goes away. Sometimes the company has a bad quarter and goes on a budget freeze. Again, the position just goes away. Perhaps, the budget doesn’t freeze, but it is tight, and they elect to go with a candidate who has less experience, and ergo requires a lower salary. Or, the hiring manager already knows another applicant and they decide to go with someone they already know and trust. The point is, there are literally dozens and dozens of reasons why an interview can go well and you still end up without an offer. And many of the reasons may be out of your control.
So is there any hope for me? Stay tuned for Part II of this 3-part blog series on cracking the on-site interview.