Being Denied An Interview Stings Yes, But…


You find a job you’re interested in and so you apply. The degree of effort you put into your application is likely related to how much you really want it; minimal effort for a job you’d do but doesn’t fire you with enthusiasm, putting in  the maximum effort for a job that feeds your passion. Time goes by, and you realize no interview is coming; you’ve been passed over.

Now, depending on how much you wanted that job, you’ll feel anything from mild disappointment to heartbreak. When you’ve failed to get an interview for a job you didn’t really want very much in the first place, it’s easy to rationalize things and put it down to your minimal effort. “I didn’t really want it bad anyhow, so it’s a good thing actually that I didn’t get an interview.” By the way, I’ve seen people actually land interviews for jobs they only half-heartedly applied for and then they’ve dithered over whether they should actually go or not; not wanting to waste both their time and the time of those interviewing.

Today though, I want to focus on the job interviews you really wanted but didn’t get. Why does that sting so much? And make no mistake, it does hit hard.

So, there’s a few reasons we need to acknowledge and understand. First of all, you likely put a lot of effort into your application. Researching the job itself, the organization, the people themselves who work there and how they contribute to the overall culture. There’s the job itself of course, and the more you know about the position and the organization, the more you can visualize yourself working there. The interview denial comes as a blow because what it represented was validation. Validation of your credentials; skills, education, competency, experience and ability to do the job.

Like any rejection, the more you wanted it, the harder is it to take. Some will see this rejection as a brick wall standing between themselves and a position they really wanted. These folks will turn away from the desired position with the organization and head off in another direction. However, there are other applicants that will regroup and launch themselves back at the organization in the future with a subsequent application. These folks are either blind to rejection or persistent and tenacious; believing that this one rejection was nothing more than a setback, a hiccup in their pursuit of what they’ll eventually succeed at obtaining.

Of course, rejection is hard to take and extremely frustrating. Many of the people I partner with are so frustrated with the effort they put in and the negligible results they obtain that this becomes their biggest factor in contacting me for support and guidance. “What am I doing wrong?”, is the most common question they start with in our first meeting.

One thing to consider I would like to point out is that there are times when being rejected and not getting an interview could be the best thing that happens to you. When you don’t get an interview, get past the disappointment and look at things as objectively as you can. Ask yourself if perhaps you didn’t just dodge a bullet. Had you got the interview and landed the job, would it have been a job which fulfilled 3 core factors; 1) You’d do well, 2) It would pay well and most importantly 3) you’d love?

I’ve had times in my own life where I applied to a job I believed at the time I could do and enjoy only to fail at getting an interview. At the time, I can remember feeling disappointed as I’d read a letter stating how unfortunate it was but they’d decided to move ahead with more qualified applicants. If memory serves, they’d wish me well and that was that. While this particular memory was years ago, it turned out to be a tremendous blessing. Had I got an interview and won the competition, my career would have taken a different path and my career as an Employment Counsellor been inevitably delayed or never have happened at all.

Job interview rejection stings precisely because we take it as a personal rejection of ourselves. Being interested in a job and applying for it, we’re offering ourselves up for some assessment of our ability to fit with both the job and a company. When we get denied, we can’t but help see it as a personal rejection for who we are as a person. This is not actually the case of course. From the employer’s perspective, the pool of applicants is bigger than at any time in history. Among the applicants there will be a greater number who meet their desired needs and therefore choosing whom to interview gives them a greater number as well. This means there are others who are equally qualified for whom an interview is not forthcoming, there just isn’t time to interview everyone.

You might be tired and frustrated at hearing little more from an employer other than there were many qualified applicants and you weren’t chosen. I mean, how can you improve on your future applications without some further direction? The truth could simply a numbers game. They want to interview 3 or 4 people as this is all their time and needs allow, and once they have these qualified applicants, they reject the rest. Interviewing the 22 others who really wanted it bad, from the 175 that applied isn’t in the best interests of the organization. No fault on your part.

 

Tired Of Finishing Second?


While some of you are trying to figure out why you aren’t landing job interviews, there’s other folks who can’t figure out where they are going wrong who not only get interviews, but apparently perform really well. Not only are they getting short-listed and interviewed, they perform well enough to have second and third interviews. All these interviews boost their confidence, have them thinking they are so close to landing a position and then, again and again they get informed that the job has been offered to and accepted by another candidate.

The enthusiasm required for a sustained job search is indeed bolstered by initial success, but when the job offer is just beyond one’s fingertips and gets snatched away, it’s a tough experience to go through. Now repeat that several times over a period of six months to a year and you begin to sense how frustrating that must be for the people concerned. To add to this frustration, not only are they not getting hired, but when following up with employers to get feedback, it’s hard to hear that they think the candidate performed really well and there’s no tangible piece of advice they can pass back to improve on future interviews.

In other words, in attempting to figure out how to improve or where they are falling short, they get nothing to work on, nothing to adjust. So if they can’t figure out where they are going wrong, the feeling arises that they are likely doomed to repeat the experience. They’ll fall short again and again because they’ll go on acting as they’ve always acted, saying what they’ve always said, and hoping for a different outcome.

It’s not like they want to hear about some fatal flaw in their approach, but at the same time, they’d actually rather have someone find something to address rather than hear a sympathetic, “You did great. Don’t change a thing.” Sure it’s affirming and validates all the effort they put in to perform at their best, but the end result is the same, no job offer.

For a moment, let’s de-personalize the application process. Instead of talking about you specifically, let’s look at a reality. In any competition; for a job, a race, a trophy etc., there has to be a number of entrants for it to truly be a competition. The bigger the prize, the stronger the competition. Each individual or team competing trains and competes to the best of their ability and in the end, wants to feel they’ve given it their best shot. Some know they are longshots to win and others feel they’ve got a legitimate chance of winning it all, seeing themselves as a favourite to win. The one thing all of the competitors know without a doubt though is that there can only be one winner. The longshots who finish eighth often cite pride in doing their best and acknowledge that those who finished first and second are just that much better; they are at a different level of compete. The second place finisher? For them it stings. They were so close they could taste it. Next time around they vow to get hungrier, so they work harder, they make adjustments, but they also acknowledge they did their best, they just came up short to a competitor who on that day, performed better.

The competition for a job is much the same. You know when you apply that there will be others doing likewise. A reality is there’s one job to be had and therefore there’s going to be one successful candidate and everyone else who will fall short. This is a reality you have to accept when choosing to apply. Your job is to position yourself so you come across as the best candidate. What’s meant by, ‘best’, is responding to the needs of the employer. If you succeed in addressing all their needs, (this you can control), it’s going to come down to their preferences in the intangibles, (this you can’t control).

In other words, there isn’t a shortcoming in you. You are doing nothing wrong. There’s nothing to fix, there’s nothing to change in your performance. You did the best you could, you stayed authentic and genuine in your delivery and represented yourself to the very best of your abilities. In the end, they made their choice and this is their prerogative. It stings absolutely. If you still want it bad, let them know. Those hired don’t always work out, or new needs arise and you might be considered a month or two after this disappointment.

But all competitor’s for a race or a trophy have one thing you may not have; a Coach. Someone who they listen to, take advice from, someone who will give them honest feedback and push them to find that elusive next level of compete.

So who’s your Coach? Excellent advice is to find someone you can establish some chemistry with. It’s no guarantee, but perhaps they can indeed give you some single piece of advice to consider that in the end makes a difference. Whereas an employer might not feel comfortable sharing how to improve, a professional Coach, someone experienced and with a track record of partnering successfully with others will. I’m not talking about your girlfriend or sister’s friend here, I’m talking about a professional Employment Coach.

It’s not the answer for everyone, but it just might be the answer for you.

 

Bitterness; It’s Expensive To Carry


If a link to this article landed in your Inbox, or if it’s been printed and left anonymously on your desk, it could be that someone working close to you is taking the rather bold step of drawing your bitterness to your attention. Don’t get angry, don’t throw this immediately in the trash or click close on your browser. You can do either of those things in a few minutes. Could be they are trying to do you a favour without having to face you openly.

Bitterness is something that everyone feels once in a while. Call it extreme disappointment; maybe feeling robbed of some person or some thing we had counted on to be there for us. Perhaps you lost a loved one or you were passed over in the end for a promotion or a new job that had been yours for the taking or even promised you.

The thing is, extreme disappointment or bitterness isn’t supposed to last. It’s supposed to have an expiry period. Oh sure you will always recall the disappointment or even the heartache of whatever you feel was denied you. However, carrying that disappointment and allowing it to fester and grow, carrying it around with you like a badge of honour, is highly unattractive. It’s so unattractive in fact that not only does it show yourself in a negative light, it can be denying you many good things in life; opportunities you may or may not even know are being passed by as you get passed over.

You have to ask yourself, ‘What does carrying around my bitterness and making sure everyone I meet gets a taste of it do for me?’ Imagine if you will a straight line; on the extreme left you’ve got Joy, Elation, Excitement etc. Way over on the extreme right you’ve got Bitterness, Anger, Loathing. Somewhere in the middle  there’s a midpoint of the two. What appears to have happened in your case is that some event or a series of events, has moved you way over to the extreme right and you never recovered your center; you’re grounded somewhere it’s unnatural to be, but it’s become your every day experience; and unfortunately it’s become what others who interact with you see as your dominant trait. No one was ever meant to stay in that extreme end position; unfortunately it seems you have.

If you’ve ever heard someone say things like, “Hey lighten up”, “What’s your problem?”, “It wouldn’t kill you to smile you know” etc., these are others ways of trying to get you to move on that scale. No one expects you to do a complete 180 and be joyous, excited and elated all the time. No, that would be unnatural for your disposition. At the same time, where you are permanently is where people were only meant to be periodically, and it’s not natural.

So maybe you’re not a people-person; or maybe it’s not that so much as you’d rather do things solo more often than you do at the moment. Could be the role you have in your work life isn’t a natural fit; that the job requires interpersonal skills and a general attitude that differs significantly from your own. If this is the case, one obvious sign is that when you’re away from work – say in your personal life and at home, you’re a changed person. Yes, if you feel your face gets set in a concrete grimace and lines of stress, furrowed eyebrows and a scowl start appearing on your commute to the workplace, this could be the reason.

However, if this bitterness persists beyond the workplace and is your reality both at work and every other place you go, it’s not just work that’s the problem. In such a case, you may find yourself more isolated from people in general no matter what the circumstances. I suppose you have to ask yourself, “Am I happy – really happy – with things the way they are.” If you think the world has to give you some reasons to feel less bitter before you make any conscious effort to drop the bitterness, it’s likely not going to work out that way. It always starts with you.

Look, whomever brought this to your attention is likely concerned about you and FOR you. Sure they’d rather interact with a happier you, but in truth, they probably are more focused on helping you become what they know could be a better you for your own sake.

Bitterness grows if you feed it. So you might have the experience, education and skills to deserve a promotion. However, your bitterness which comes across as brooding and biting is extremely concerning to those making the hiring decision. They aren’t going to promote you and give you added responsibility when this position you want is one of influence. No, it’s costing you dearly, and so as you get passed over again and again, your bitterness grows and gets reinforced.

Some need professional help to face where the bitterness stems from and help learning how to leave it behind. Not all, but some. You’ll also get massive support from anyone you talk to and ask for their help as you attempt to change what has become so ingrained in how you go about things.

It’s your life of course to live as you choose. Just don’t underestimate the cost of holding on to the bitterness.

 

“Sorry, We Just Don’t Think You’ll Stay”


When you’re out of work and experiencing the frustrations of applying and being rejected only to apply and be rejected again, it’s tough to keep positive. One thing that can really be upsetting is when you’re told by a potential employer that you’ve been rejected because in their opinion, you won’t stay long because you won’t be happy to stay in the job they might have offered you.

The most annoying part of this message you receive is that the company has essentially ruled you out by thinking for you. Rather than believing you when you say you’ll stay and sincerely believe you’ll be content with the job they are offering you for the foreseeable future, they reject you based on what they themselves believe.

Ah but they aren’t unemployed are they? They don’t experience the ups and downs of unemployment; hopes raised and hopes dashed. They don’t therefore know the point you’ve reached where you will be truly grateful for the opportunity to work for them in the position you applied to. Given that you put all your previous work and academic qualifications on your resume and they were good enough to get you the interview, what changed between the offer of the interview and being removed from the hiring process? Did you somehow oversell yourself?

At this point many job seekers become confused. On the one hand the job seeker wants to put down all their experience and qualifications that match the job they are going for and certainly want to show a passion for the work they’d be doing. On the other hand, the job seeker now feels they have to conceal or downplay some of their long-term plans or additional skills so they don’t market themselves out of the running and end up rejected; again.

When you’re in this situation don’t you just want the opportunity to tell them flat-out that you’d like them to respect your honesty and yes thank you very much you’d appreciate being believed when you say that you’re making a commitment to them and won’t depart in weeks for something better? If that was honestly the case, wouldn’t you have just waited the few weeks and accepted that better job? They don’t know though that you’ve been out of work and searching unsuccessfully for such a long time that you have in fact re-evaluated how important work is and you’ve a new appreciation for whatever organization will hire you.

The company of course knows none of this. From their standpoint they see an applicant who has held positions with greater responsibility and salary than what they are offering, and they’re fully convinced despite your assurance that you’re going to jump at the first opportunity that pays more and uses more of your skills and experience than their own company can at the moment. They do not want to be re-advertising and re-interviewing applicants in a very short time or in the position of calling back people they’ve previously rejected to offer them the job.

Of course the other thing going through the head of small-minded employers or interviewers is that you could possibly not only do this job exceptionally well; you may actually come up in discussions as a suitable replacement for their own jobs with your wealth of experience. The last thing these small-minded folks want to do is be responsible for their own demise by hiring you!

Ah, but what’s a job applicant to do? Some people give the advice of, “dumbing down your resume” and in an interview, avoiding coming across as passionate, intelligent and highly self-motivated. I think this is terrible advice. After all, even if hired, you’d have to carry on this charade until your probationary period is over. Are you going to be happy or even capable pretending to be someone you’re not for 3, 6 or 9 months? Are you going to go in each day trying to remember what you’ve told or not told co-workers and your boss about your past experiences?

No stay true to yourself I think. Be genuine and authentic. If an interviewer or Manager rejects you out of hand – not because you can’t do the job but because you are more than capable of doing the job with skill and expertise and they believe you’ll depart soon, you probably wouldn’t thrive in the culture.

One strategy I have employed myself and I’ve recommended with success to others in this situation is to state your position at the conclusion of the interview in lieu of asking a question. Before you shake hands and walk away leaving the decision entirely in their hands, make your best pitch summarizing how hiring you will benefit them. There’s no harm adding how truly appreciative you are for the opportunity of working on their behalf and representing their business. Tell them straight out if they’ve communicated doubt about your commitment that you are a person of integrity and character; that if you are offered the position and accept you can be relied upon to honour their confidence in you with a reciprocal period of employment that will reward their decision in hiring you.

You do get to accept or reject a job offer and the employer gets to offer you a job or not.  If you’ve done all you can to communicate an honest intention to repay a job offer with your own commitment, it truly is out of your hands.

“You’re Not What We’re Looking For”


Rats, rejected again. So now what do you do? Looking for work takes its toll, especially if you really invest yourself in the process. It can be mentally draining attempting to show the world a positive face, a smile and exude confidence at a time when you feel vulnerable, stressed and anxious.

If you think about the title, “You’re not what we’re looking for”, there could be some valuable clues in those six words that you’d be smart to think about and then do something about. The most obvious question to ask of the person making that statement is, “Why am I not what you are looking for?” In other words, what are they looking for that you lack.

You see it could be that if you hear this once, you were a wrong fit at that company. It’s not your fault, nor is it theirs. In fact, finding fault at all is the wrong thing to do. You may have all the qualifications on paper, but during an interview, the interviewer(s) made a decision that based on your personality for example and how you conducted yourself that someone else with equal qualifications would just fit in better. That’s fair I believe.

After all, the company and the person representing it know the culture and the kind of people who thrive and those that don’t or might put that culture at risk. You and I, we don’t know that, and they might have done you a favour from being hired and then shortly fired when you didn’t fit in as well as another candidate would.

Let’s suppose now that you hear, “You’re not what we’re looking for” frequently. What message could really be behind those words? Hearing it often could well mean that you just don’t have what it takes to compete with other applicants period. Say you got a job 8 years ago through a family friend in an office setting. You were let go a year ago due to downsizing and you’ve been looking for work for over a year.

In a situation like this, you may not have the credentials required by a new employer, such as certificate in Office Administration. You may have a working understanding of the software that company used, but perhaps employer’s are looking for people who have experience using newer programs, and face it, there are many people over those years who have upgraded their formal education in school and are now graduating with training in the latest and best practices.

You see that job you held in a small firm of 10 people was good while it lasted, but it has left you unprepared to compete with other applicants with more recent education or experience with larger companies. If you were one of those applicants, you’d be arguing that you’re a better fit and you might be absolutely right.

Now the above is just a scenario that I’m presenting. It does illustrate however that the experience you may have is valid and good so far as it goes, but it falls short of the experience other applicants have which may mean they are consistently hired where you are not. Frustrating? Absolutely. Understandable however? Yes, completely.

If you can determine therefore why you are not the best fit and what they are looking for, then you are in a position to do something about it if you so choose. If the message is that you don’t have experience working in large organizations, maybe you should confine your job search to smaller companies where you’ll be a great fit based on your work history. A job in a larger firm where you have to interact with many people in different departments may be something you’d have to learn but why hire you when other applicants know it already?

Recently I read a reply from a reader pointing out that it is companies not job seekers that are to blame when things don’t work out. I read their post and sensed bitterness, anger, resentment and a lack of full understanding when they have been passed over for others. I don’t think job seekers are to, ‘blame’ for their unemployment any more than I think employers are to, ‘blame’ for making the decisions they do.

Just as a job applicant can turn down a job because they don’t like the money offered, the travel involved or the work location, a company can turn down any applicant. In both cases, from either way you look at it, one or the other could decide it’s a bad fit. In fact, an applicant could withdraw from the application process and the company decide to hire someone else at the same time.

My advice is to respectfully ask for some clarification of why you are not presently what they are looking for in order to better compete in the future. If you need more experience get it. If you need a specific kind of experience, seek it out volunteering or take some upgrading if that’s the suggestion.

You may not of course get the real feedback that you’d like. If your personality and attitude are a bad fit, they aren’t going to tell you that. Some outfits don’t give feedback at all if you don’t work out. Be as objective as you can, open to feedback as you can and then pause to consider any feedback you do get before responding.