The Best Don’t Always Get Hired


Sometimes the best people find themselves not being chosen for employment opportunities. They submit strong applications, they interview very well, but someone else gets the nod. Yes it happens and we need to acknowledge it. So should the good people of this world stop applying for jobs because the best don’t always win out in the end? Of course not.

Take for example your unionized workplace setting. In these kind of settings, it is more than occasional that someone who is better suited to a position finds themselves finishing second to someone else who meets all the minimum requirements but doesn’t necessarily sell themselves as the best candidate. The seniority of the applicant might trump the performance of the person who is better which is indeed unfortunate. That to me is always perplexing, as I’ve always wanted the best candidate to get the job.

The above scenario does happen in unionized workplaces; sometimes a unionized employee upset with finishing second to a better candidate will even grieve a hiring decision and sometimes win the appeal. Imagine the implications of that process. Two people apply, the Management decides on the person they feel best meets the job requirements, the person who finishes 2nd grieves this to their union, an appeal is launched, and the decision overturned. So now you’ve got someone in the job that everybody knows wasn’t the initial choice and the best person isn’t in the role? What a message to send everyone.

Another situation could be that the interviewers and the selection panel aren’t skilled enough in their own jobs to make the best decisions, and so they just pick the wrong candidate and the best get passed over. Even when entirely competent, interviewers could themselves be stressed out, mentally fatigued or distracted, overly tired or ill. In other words the usually good judgement they have is distorted and they make a decision they’d otherwise not make. In short, they are human and err.

My point here is that because people are at the key of the selection process, errors are possible because no one is infallible. We always hope of course that every single time the very best candidate gets selected, and where we personally are involved we trust that person is us.

What often comes into play in the selection process are the factors that go beyond the written requirements in a job posting. Oh sure the educational requirements and skills are printed in black and white, as too are the job responsibilities. However, often the person making the final decision is looking at other less well-known factors. So you could have a decision at that point made on things like team chemistry and personality fit. Can you imagine a job posting that says, “Applicant must mesh with existing chemistry of the present team”. How could you prepare yourself for that?

Looking at things from the point of view of those making hiring decisions, you really do have to look at the environment that you are going to be adding a person to. Do you want to stir things up with the inclusion of a strong personality or are you looking for someone to mirror what currently exists? How will the addition of one of the three final candidates for a job impact on those currently working on a team? All candidates might look entirely qualified on paper and interview very well, but the best person for the job might be all three of them and only one can actually get hired.

And so it is that you might be told, “There was nothing more you could have done to get this job, and you interviewed very well but another candidate was selected.” Is this a good thing or not? Nothing else you could have done. I’d say that is actually great news. Sure you didn’t get the job, but it would appear you left it all on the table and didn’t hold anything back. Your personality might have just not been a good fit for the organization and the people you’d be working with. So that in turn could mean one of two things; you may not have worked out well and thus have been happy yourself working with them, or if you hear that again and again, you might need to consider a change in the vibes you are giving off.

Do yourself a favour though. Only about 1% of job seekers ever even think to write a note to an employer after they have been rejected for a job in the final decision. Think about writing a note expressing your disappointed with the end result but at the same time wishing to let them know of your continued interest in the role or a similar position. Hey if you got to the very end and finished number 2, it could be that number 1 doesn’t work out after a month, or another opening comes up. Write that letter and maybe they realize they should have hired you in the first place.

Exceptionally qualified people – the best people – do sometimes finish second. That’s life, it happens and it’s not fair maybe but it happens. If you give up, you will lose out 100% on all the jobs you don’t apply for – guaranteed.

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