You had an interview and you thought it went well. But then you didn’t get the offer. What happened? While recruiters will give you feedback, there are some things that they won’t or can’t tell you. In this article, I’m going to share with you some of the reasons why you might not get the job offer that recruiters won’t share with you.
One topic that’s hotly debated when it comes to hiring is whether or not companies should hire for cultural fit or whether they should purely hire the person who fits the job description and who has the technical knowledge and experience to be able to perform the tasks required.
It’s understandable to see why the topic of cultural fit could cause issues from both perspectives.
On the one hand, while companies are increasingly aware of the need for diverse teams and recruitment policies are in place to ensure inclusive recruitment practices and processes, this doesn’t remove the fact that people tend to like, and get on well with people who are similar to them. This means that new hires will be similar in some way to those already in the team, either from a personality perspective or in some other way.
But, hiring more people like those already in the team can lead to a serious lack of diversity. Whether that means a team that’s all-male, all-female, all sports lovers, all extroverts, all from a similar background, or something else.
On the other hand, however, we all know that work is a lot more enjoyable when you have a great team that gets on and works well together.
Of course, you can get on with lots of different types of people, and being able to do this is an essential skill and one that’s required for success in any workplace.
But the truth is, when it comes to making offers, the person who can do the job, AND get on well with the team is the one that’s likely to get the offer.
You Weren’t a Fit For the Hiring Manager
You’ve heard that people don’t leave companies they leave bosses. While people seldom leave companies solely because of their boss, if you’ve ever had a terrible boss then you’ll understand how much of a difference your manager makes.
In a recent Korn Ferry survey of more than 340 professionals —almost a third said the biggest reason to leave was the company culture, while 28% said it was “a bad boss.” Only 22% said it was salary and benefits.
This goes both ways.
No one dreams of managing a team member that’s difficult, hard to communicate with, or a huge personality clash. While professionalism is key when it comes to dealing with these situations, if there’s a choice between two people whose experience is identical, but one gets on better with the hiring manager during the interview process, then chances are that’s the person that will get the job. people want people who can do the job, but if you can do the job AND get on well with your boss, then you’ve got the edge.
Being the right fit for the hiring manager doesn’t necessarily mean having a similar personality, although it might. Several other factors can come into play.
It could also be down to management style or communication preferences. All of which have an impact on how smoothly things run within teams, departments, and the organization at large.
Even having the opposite approach and style to the hiring manager could prove beneficial if the manager is looking for someone who will compliment them, or the rest of the team by filling in the missing gaps.
Your Answers Raised Red Flags
There are some questions that we all know to be tricky. Things like “What are your weaknesses?”, “Describe a time when you dealt with a difficult colleague” or “ Describe a time when things didn’t go as planned”
All these questions are an opportunity to demonstrate the kind of person you are and what you’re capable of, but they’re also an opportunity to raise a red flag in the hiring manager’s mind.
If not answered properly, these questions can raise concerns about your ways of working, how you will interact with colleagues or how you might handle specific challenges within the role.
By preparing for these types of interview questions thoroughly, you can greatly increase your chances of succeeding at the interview and subsequently getting an offer.
They Felt You Didn’t Take It Seriously
There are many reasons why a hiring manager may not think you’ve taken the interview seriously enough. This includes arriving late, not being prepared, not being dressed appropriately.
When it comes to arriving late, some managers find this inexcusable. I’ve known managers refuse to conduct interviews on this basis. So do everything you can to arrive early, and, of course, put in the necessary research and preparation.
With remote working happening more, what should you wear to an interview? And is there even an interview dress code given that many interviews take place on zoom?
Well, my friend, the answer is yes. Unless the recruiter has expressly told you otherwise, at the very least dress smart. Turning up in your dressing gown while sitting on the bed will not do for that zoom interview.
Where you’re showing up in person, consider the type of company you’re interviewing for. Some companies and industries might be formal, think legal, banking, and accounting, especially where the interview is concerned. While others might have a more relaxed, less formal style. Think creative industries or even tech. The key is to understand the company you’re interviewing at, but if in any doubt, ask the recruiter, and stay on the safe side of whatever style is typical day-to-day.
Remember, what the hiring manager wears to the interview might not be what they wear on a day-to-day basis. Either way, the last thing you want is to feel like the most casual person in the room.
Lack of Personal Hygiene
This is a difficult topic and I did agonize over whether or not it should even be on this list. But I wouldn’t be giving you the full and honest picture if I excluded it.
Unfortunately, this is something that has come up as an issue with candidates in my personal experience.
I once had a candidate who was such a heavy smoker it seemed that neither myself nor my colleague could bear to be in the room for the duration of the interview.
And I’m not attacking smokers here. What I am saying is that when you’re in a face-to-face interview situation, remember that you’re in an enclosed space.
And that’s all I’ll say on that topic.
You Did Something… “Odd”
Another reason that you might not get an offer that recruiters won’t tell you is that you did something odd. Or at least something that the hiring manager felt was odd. While a remote interview can mean struggling to find a suitable background, your background doesn’t need to be Insta worthy, but it does need to be professional or at least not inappropriate.
There’s nothing wrong with a plain white wall, and you don’t need a ton of room to create a professional-looking corner or backdrop.
But please get off the bed or at least zoom in.
If you’re heading into an office then be sure to practice all the IRL etiquette that we’re all on the verge of forgetting.
Look the interviewer in the eye, smile and do take off your coat and put down your bag.
All these things sound obvious, but I promise you I’ve experienced some form of this “odd” behavior in interviews and it left me wondering if the candidate was freezing cold as they sat there in their biggest winter coat, or planning to make a run for it, as they clutched their bag tightly.
While an interviewer may understand that there could be genuine reasons for your discomfort and will try to make you feel at ease, these are just a couple of examples of things that will leave them wondering.
[Related: How To Prepare For A Video Interview ]
You Said Something … Inappropriate
Sometimes during an interview, you get overly relaxed or overly nervous. When this happens, you risk saying something… inappropriate.
I’ve had candidates tell me many surprising things. Like the candidate who shared that their biggest weakness was how uncontrollably angry they can get, or the lady who shared that her biggest weakness was how messy she was. She was so messy that, “If we went to her home we would most likely find underwear strewn all over the floor,” in her words.
Yes, this is what she divulged to me and the hiring manager, and no she did not get the job.
So, before you blurt out something you’ll regret, learn to manage your nerves and be prepared for those tricky questions.
They Couldn’t Get a Word In
Again, nerves can be a nightmare. Not only can they make you say the darnedest things, but nervous energy can also lead to nonstop chatter.
If you find yourself wondering what the question even was – you might need to check in.
You Were Less Than Forthcoming
There’s more to most interview questions than meets the eye, and sometimes, what you don’t do is what rules you out of the process.
If, for example, none of your answers clearly demonstrate that you possess the core competency that’s being assessed then this would negatively impact your interview performance.
An example of this could be where you’ve spent the whole interview talking about what you did and the things you achieved alone when the role requires extensive team collaboration.
Remember, while interviewers may ask direct questions to understand whether or not you meet a key competency required, they will also be listening closely throughout the interview to the specific words and language you use.
So, if you say you are a great listener, and yet you fail to listen during the interview, this could lead them to wonder how much you truly do listen in real-life situations because actions speak louder than words.
You Undersold Yourself
The interview is no time to hold back. If there’s something you’ve achieved that would benefit the company, this is the time to share it. There’s nothing I hate more than knowing someone was perfect for the role, but they simply undersold themselves.
Talking about yourself can feel uncomfortable, but if you want to shine in an interview then you need to learn how to sell yourself and get comfortable with talking about your qualities.
Don’t be shy about coming forward.
They Think You Oversold Yourself
OK, so I know I just said sell yourself, but there’s a way to do it without coming across as blustery or overly boastful.
This is a tricky one, and I have challenged managers who fed back that candidates seemed too arrogant. However, arrogance is not an attractive quality. People want to work with people who are confident, who know their stuff, but who also have an appreciation for the rest of the team and what others are bringing to the table.
What’s more, if your arrogance seems unfounded and isn’t backed up with examples, then you’ve lost them for sure.
You Turned Into a Stalker
Always follow up. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again.
I know, that it can be frustrating when things take longer than you expected. However, if you were provided with timescales and a process then contacting everyone in the company including the CEO, when you’ve already been updated on the situation is no way to ingratiate yourself.
I believe that everyone should be treated well, but I’ve also witnessed firsthand, a manager who was extremely frustrated after being stalked on Linked In by a candidate who had already received feedback, which they simply did not want to accept.
Remember, the role may come up again and just because you where’d the right person this time, it doesn’t mean to say that next time won’t be your turn. But harassing managers and the wider team will not help you to get the job in the future.
One of the biggest challenges and objectives of every good recruitment process is to remove bias. However, the reality is that while you can significantly reduce bias, it’s impossible to completely remove all of it.
While you may have the most robust and inclusive process in place, some biases are extremely hard to completely remove or manage. For example, if a manager has taken a chance on many candidates in the past from industries outside that of the desired industry, how these people performed could have an impact on future recruitment.
In teams where these risks have worked out for the best, managers are more open to continuing to be flexible in such requirements. However, for the manager who has taken chances that have gone badly, it is highly likely that they would subsequently air on the side of caution and may even avoid certain backgrounds and experiences altogether.
It’s very hard for our past experiences to not impact our perceptions. Hence bias. This could happen consciously but also unconsciously, with managers not realizing they’re being biased.
While some bias can happen on an unconscious level, some bias happens consciously. Like in the example above, but where a manager consciously
They Had Concerns About Your True Motivations
Finally, hiring managers want to know that you’ve applied for a job for the right reasons. These reasons will be a combination of what you want for your career moving forwards, coupled with what you know you can offer the company.
But some reasons will raise concerns for hiring managers.
You’re running away from challenges
Every company has challenges, but no matter why you’re looking to leave your current job, if you come across as simply desperate to get away, this can worry a hiring manager. This is because when you run away from something rather than running towards something you want, the decisions you make might not satisfy you long term. This leaves the company unclear of whether or not the role is really what you want or just an escape plan.
You’re not clear what you want
When talking about why you’ve applied for a job, your reasons need to align with what that job and that company will be able to offer you. If these things don’t align the hiring manager will be left wondering if you really know what you want.
You’re looking for a short-term stepping stone
Companies hate to feel like they are just a stepping stone to you getting somewhere else. While these days it’s common to move from one job to another after two years, if you make it clear that this job is for the short term then they may feel that you won’t stick around in the company long enough.
You’re only interested in salary
And finally, salary and benefits are important, but if it comes across that this is the only thing you’re concerned with then you’re unlikely to be the preferred candidate.