It’s never a call anyone wants to receive. Your resume was great, you were prepared for your interview, but an employer decided to move on with someone else. If this happens once you may think, “I wasn’t a great fit”, but if you find yourself consistently being passed on, that may be a sign it’s time to self-reflect and pinpoint the areas for improvement before your next interview.
So how do you do this? Where do you start?
At Bridge, we have spent the past 30 years in the “interview business”. From these experiences, we have compiled a list of the 9 most overlooked reasons a candidate was not selected to move forward in the interview process.
1. Lacked Detailed Answers
Interviewer feedback: “I felt like I was pulling teeth to get any type of detail out of them. Either they do not know what they are talking about, or they are not able to communicate it effectively.”
What you can do: It is important to give details when answering an interview question. If your interviewer is repeatedly asking follow-up questions or rewording their original question, then you need to provide more detail with your answers.
2. Not Answering the Question
Interviewer feedback: “Every time I would ask them a question they would skate around the answer.”
What you can do: It is important to be direct and avoid tangents when answering a question. “Squirrel moments” will often lead to confusion and more unanswered questions.
3. Spoke Negatively About Their Previous Manager and/or Employer
Interviewer feedback: “They blamed their previous manager and employer for their shortcomings, I don’t think this person is accountable and is too negative for my team.”
What you can do: A negative work experience is one of the top reasons people leave a job. It is ok to let an interviewer know you did not have a positive experience with your last employer or manager, but you still need to be professional in the way you convey that. When speaking about a poor experience, it is best to be short and sweet.
For example, if you are wanting to leave your current role because the environment is unprofessional, lacks integrity, and/or the manager plays favorites, rather than saying all that, you can simply say, “I am looking to leave my current employer because I feel they lack integrity and have issues holding team members accountable.”
It is possible your interviewer may ask you for an example or for more detail but remember to always speak professionally of your previous manager or employer.
4. Was Unprepared
Interviewer feedback: “When I asked them what they knew about us and the position, they could not give me any detail.”
What you can do: Interviewers are looking to see how serious you are about the position. Show the interviewer that you took the time to prepare for your interview. Look at their website, LinkedIn profile, social media pages, any published articles, etc., and reference what you read during your interview.
5. Appeared Uninterested
Interviewer feedback: “It seemed like they did not want to be at the interview. They were just going through the motions. When I asked if they had any questions for me, they said, ‘No’.”
What you can do: There is nothing more off-putting to an employer than someone who does not ask any questions. Make sure you show you are engaged and interested in the company throughout the entire interview.
Make a list of questions ahead of time you want to ask. Some examples might be, “What does a typical day look like?”, “What are the expectations for someone in this role?”, “What is your 30 day, 90 day, and 6-month plan for this position?”, “What is your management style like?”, etc..
Sometimes, the blind spots in our own interviewing technique can be the root cause of a rash of rejection.
6. Be Yourself!
Interviewer feedback: “He/She lacked warmth, humor, or personality during the interview. We had a hard time connecting with them.” OR “They are not a cultural fit.”
What you can do: During your interview, it is important you show an employer who you are. Do not let your nerves get the best of you! If you are putting on a façade, interviewers will pick up on this, and see you as someone who has difficulty opening up and is hard to connect with.
7. Unable to Connect Your Previous Experience with the Position
Interviewer feedback: “Their past experience does not relate to the position we are trying to fill.”
What you can do: When you are interviewing, make sure to give examples from your previous/current position that relate to the role you are interviewing for. Bring up similar responsibilities as well as any issues you have encountered in the past that have relevance to this role, and how you handled them.
8. Spending Too Much Time Selling Yourself Versus Letting the Interviewer Interview You
Interviewer feedback: “I was barely able to get a word in; they talked the whole time” OR “They had difficulty ‘landing the plane.’”
What you can do: Yes, it is important to be able to sell yourself in the interview, but it is equally as important to remember who is conducting the interview. If you find yourself talking for more than 5 minutes at a time, you need to end what you are saying and let the interviewer speak. Typically, there is only a certain amount of time allotted for an interview, and the interviewer needs to touch on multiple topics with you. If they are not able to cover all of them, they may not select you to move forward in the interview process because they couldn’t get a word in.
9. Why Should We Hire You?
Interviewer feedback: “When I asked them why I should hire them, they were not able to give me a clear answer”
What you can do: This is single-handedly the most important question in the interview. It is important to build your response to this answer before the interview. You need to connect your abilities, knowledge, experience, and key attributes to the position. This needs to be a detailed answer that should incorporate your excitement and passion for the job.
When it comes to job hunting, the only thing more difficult than interviewing is rejection. Being passed on a job is enough to make anyone feel deflated, and hearing multiple “no's” can cause you to lose confidence in yourself. Sometimes, the blind spots in our own interviewing technique can be the root cause of a rash of rejection. In these moments, it is important to be able to press pause and self-reflect during and after the interview on ways we can build up our interviewing skills to help us get closer to hearing that coveted “yes”!