Passed Over Again: How to Determine Why You’re Not Landing the Job
You're being called in for interviews and invited back for follow-ups, but you aren't receiving the offer. You have the basics right and recruiters and hiring managers are biting, but they always go with the other candidate. How can you diagnose the problem? Is there a way to ask the recruiter who rejected you what you can do differently?
Three WinterWyman recruiting experts share their ideas for helping you take the process to the next level so you can get the new position you desire.
Going on an interview is always beneficial. Obviously, an interview can end up as a job offer or a networking connection. But even if the interview goes poorly, it is still a positive experience if you can take the feedback, learn from it, and apply it to your next interaction. This way, you’re continually progressing in your ability to market your skills and experience and getting closer to your next great career opportunity with every conversation. I’m a firm believer in utilizing all feedback, but this plan is only as good as the post-interview information you receive.
If you’re working with an agency recruiter, getting constructive feedback shouldn’t be a problem. A good external recruiter has relationships with their clients that allow them to gather detailed feedback. They also see the importance of sharing that feedback with full transparency with their candidates. You and your recruiter together take the feedback and apply it to your preparation for the next application. Momentum builds with every interview, eventually leading to that job placement.
This can break down if you’re working with an internal recruiter. The internal recruiter views you as a candidate for one particular opening within their organization. They guide you through the interview process and if you get the job—great. But if you don’t, you want that interview feedback to help you to move forward. The internal recruiter, however, is less inclined to share the interviewer’s observations. For them, there is no next client and next opening to discuss and pursue together. Their motivation may lean towards protecting their company’s interests in being discreet with the specific reasons you were not selected. How do you change this? Express your interest in other opportunities within the company that are available now and/or in the future. Make the conversation about working at their company, not just working in the particular position you applied for. Now you and the internal recruiter are working towards a mutually beneficial goal—finding a match. This should lead to a more open dialogue and put you in the best position to get the candid interview feedback you’re seeking.
I once represented a contract data architect with a phenomenal background and resume. Unfortunately, he failed on three consecutive interviews. I called the hiring managers to get a sense of the issues. Each one thought the candidate was very bright, but they weren’t comfortable moving forward due to how he answered questions. He was so excited to respond that he would start answering before the interviewer was done, and he would go in the wrong direction. Simply telling him to count to three in his head before responding made all the difference. He re-interviewed for one of those three roles and landed the job. We ended up working on five more contracts together over the next seven years.
The lesson here? Encourage your recruiter to gather feedback from the hiring manager and be open to hearing it! Most recruiters are great at conveying positive feedback, but often stumble when having to share negative feedback. This is human nature—nobody wants to share bad news. But your recruiter is simply trying to help you by letting you know where you can improve. Try to take in that feedback so you can work together to increase your opportunities for success.
Many candidates seek my help after a month or two of conducting their permanent search. While they may not have been open to consulting from day one, they start to realize that it may add more options to their search and will help them better position themselves in the market. Regardless of the type of position—contract or permanent—there are a few common mistakes candidates make toward the end of the interview process. When it comes down to the final round, employers are looking for you to be just as interested in them as they are in you. If you're not asking the proper closing questions, you’re doing yourself a disservice. You should be asking potential employers if they have any reservations about your ability to do the job. Maybe they are harboring a hesitation that could be overcome if you knew what they were thinking. For example, an employer could be worried that you are coming from a small department and will get lost in a larger division. Sometimes just asking the question directly garners you the respect of the client. Then you have a chance to discuss it with them and overcome their concerns.
It's also important to end an interview by expressing your interest instead of just being one of the dozens of candidates who closes with, "Thanks for your time. I look forward to hearing from you." Wrap things up by giving a few key thoughts on why you think you would be great for the position. Make your points relevant to the job and beneficial to the client.
It's absolutely okay and necessary to ask your recruiter for feedback. Although it’s never a guarantee, the likelihood of getting direct feedback is certainly higher when working with a recruiter. Your recruiter will want to share any constructive criticism with you to help you land something more quickly.
Any time you interview for a position, you never know the competition you are up against. Sometimes you fall second to someone with more experience. But in most cases, I have found that when it comes down to two candidates of a similar caliber, the candidate with more enthusiasm and overall likability will always win the job.