If You Didn't Get Hired, This Could be Why

John Krautzel
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As a job seeker, you recognize there could be many reasons why a hiring decision didn't work out in your favor. Perhaps someone was more qualified than you, had better soft skills, presented himself better in the job interview or clicked with the interviewers in a more substantial way. Liz Ryan, an HR expert writing for Forbes, has some thoughts as to why she wouldn't hire you.

Ryan points out that hiring decisions often come down to the judgment and perspective of those interviewing you. Even when you ask later for some feedback as to what you can improve, the answer may not be that simple. Your interviewers may not even have the time to return the feedback. However, there are some things to watch out for and avoid in your behavior while trying to wow the people in front of you.

1. Memorized Answers

Memorized answers are great, but if every answer you give to interviewers sounds rehearsed, the hiring decision may not go your way because your interviewers will recognize canned answers. It's fine to think about your responses and be spontaneous.

2. Lack of Emotions

You're not a robot, nor do your interviewers expect you to be. In fact, people love passionate hires who have an emotional connection to the position. That doesn't mean baring your soul during your face time, but a hiring decision might come down to your emotional intelligence.

3. Failure to Ask Questions

Interviews are conversations with your future employer, and they are not an interrogation room where you answer as many questions as possible. Interviewers expect you to ask questions because the questions you ask reveal aspects of your personality and how well you truly know the company and its culture. Don't expect a favorable hiring decision if you do not ask any questions or if you ask mundane questions.

4. No Problem-Solving Skills

Your job interview is a great time to showcase your problem-solving skills. If you can't solve a hypothetical problem presented to you, the future employer might not think too favorably because you'll need to solve problems on a daily basis while on the job. Put some thought behind your judgment before answering questions about how to solve unique problems.

5. Not Backing Up Your Credentials

Good references, awards, degrees and accolades are great. However, an employer wants to know what you can do in the present as opposed to what you've done in the past. An interview roots out your soft skills, while your resume shows your qualifications. Your resume and the information on it is what landed you the interview in the first place. Backing up your credentials with the right interpersonal skills, intelligence and soft skills is what the interview entails.

There are many reasons behind a company's hiring decision and why you may not land a job. Having sharp recall skills and witty answers is a good start. However, a company hires people for each position rather than biochemical robots who can memorize facts, responses and names.

Photo courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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    When an interviewer starts off with, “What makes you think you want to be... [the job you’ve done for xx years]” it is pretty much obvious the outcome...

  • steven d.
    steven d.

    i just say sometime ago

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks again for the great comments. Yes it is very true that companies get around the age question by asking when you graduated from HS. Wonder what would happen if everyone responded with all nines such as 99-9999 for month and year. Might be interesting to try it and find out. It is true that you can't get around that question. Legally, not sure how they get away with it. I, too, have encountered the same thing when applying for a job. @T.G.M. the concerning part about your comment was the "robo-software" type responses which means that you probably are not talking to a human but to a bot. Run! From personal experience here, that robo-sounding voice on the other end of the phone probably is a bot. My daughter ran into just such an issue. The "company" even went so far as to send her a check to buy the equipment she needed for the position. We turned the check over to the local police and contacted the actual company to let them know this was going on. The company was in Japan and they were very grateful to know about it. @Alllan Fett thanks for your comments. I, too, have found the same statistics regarding how long an employee stays in any one position. Us "older" job seekers will accept a position and stay for as long as possible but the millennials do job hop a LOT. It's like they are searching for that allusive something that they just can not find. @Nabil Z. thanks for your comments,, too. It can be quite uncomfortable during an interview. Nerves certainly get the best of us. So prior to the interview, research the company and find out everything that you can about them. Any questions that come up during the research, write them down. Any questions regarding the actual position, write them down. Have them in front of you during the interview. You can cross them off if they get answered during the course of the interview and can even jot down a quick response on your list so that you can look at it later. This way you can focus on the actual interview and not be thinking about the questions that you need to ask. Also, just having that tablet in front of you or on your lap, gives you something to hold on to calm the nerves and keep from shaking. Trust me - that interviewer knows that you are nothing but a bundle of nerves. The interviewer, also, might have cold, clammy hand, too. Maybe this is the first time he/she has been involved in an interview from the other side of the desk. Maybe they aren't sure what to say to you, either. Try the notebook idea and see if it helps. All the best to all of you. Thanks again for the great comments.

  • Allan Fett
    Allan Fett

    Barry Young - they can't ask questions that directly or indirectly gives an indication of your age. The question about what year you graduated from high school falls into this category. The EEOC would be very interested in knowing about this.\

  • T. G. M.
    T. G. M.

    If HR heads know a given company should not ask directly or indirectly about age during hiring, why do almost all of the company websites ask about the year you graduated high school and current/previous salary? A jobseeker can't proceed to the next screen during the "profile" submittal until completing those fields. Is it acceptable to "lie" about age to avoid being screened out by the robe-software, since HR will eventually find out the truth? Additionally, I have found it difficult to connect with recruiters now. The recruiters that contact me seem to be robo-software too and very, very (VERY!) off base with the job "opportunities" that they send me.

  • barry young
    barry young

    when asked what year I graduated from HS-a clever way of getting around age discrimination, and I say 1970....I've gotten several hangups, nothing further...

  • Carlos B.
    Carlos B.

    This is a good article.

  • Allan Fett
    Allan Fett

    The age discrimination laws are a paper tiger. HR people will recognize they aren't supposed to go down that road but hiring managers who are in operations don't care. They are under this false assumption that they will get more value from a younger candidate and have more longevity (there's that word again) and continuity. In theory it sounds good but in reality it's another story. If they took the time to do their due diligence, they would discover that, statistically, the BB generation worker changes job an average of 3 times in their career. The millennial worker stays in a job, on average, 3 years. So much for longevity and continuity.

  • Allan Fett
    Allan Fett

    Ah, the age question. "They can't ask any questions that would directly or indirectly relate to your age if you're over forty." Nice in theory and law but it is a joke in reality. I've been in the interview processes for a number of jobs and have normally sailed through the phone interview stage. The in person is another story. I've gotten questions with buzz words like "longevity" and "where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years" or do you feel you have the "stamina" to do the job. All of this is to probe the age issue. One interview I was asked in a follow up to submit an abbreviated marketing plan for the sales territory. I submitted one and the hiring manager said it was great and very impressive. However, it ended up I didn't get the job. I was told that they decided to go with a candidate who had better qualifications. Really! I found the person they eventually hired on LinkedIn. I have many more years of industry specific experience, they wanted a Bachelor's degree and I have an MBA. Better qualifications? BS!!

  • Nabil Z.
    Nabil Z.

    It posted the comment when I only wanted to move down a line. Anyhow, how do you ask questions? What kind of questions? What are mundane questions? I think your article is spot on.... Thank you for sharing!

  • Nabil Z.
    Nabil Z.

    No. 3.... How do you ask questions? I come from a communist country and even though I lived for a long time in the States, I still get fear in the interviews. You see, dictators spend a lot of effort raising generations who don't speak, think or say no so they can ensure no one will rise against them. So for me, I get very nervous in the interview... My hands get cold and I get sweaty and I can't ask any questions even though they ask me if I have any question.

  • Atonya M.
    Atonya M.

    I truly enjoyed reading this article because I feel it talks about and some of skills I believe I may be lacking. Great article

  • Theresa Ward
    Theresa Ward

    Great advice!

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the great comments. @JD G. thanks for your comment. It can be a bit harder to get a position as we get older but not impossible. It's true that you have to be careful when trying to make yourself look younger. Go to a professional to have you hair and eyebrows died. This way you won't have to worry about that orange or blue look. @Mary M we hear your pain. You might want to consider trying a temp agency first. You also need to think about what you want to do and then try to find some free courses to get yourself up to speed. @John G thanks for your comment. Have you tried going through your network? Contact people in your network and let them know that you are looking. Ask if they know of any positions? What about a recruiter? Have you tried using one? They will meet with you first. This way they will know your personality, etc. and can present you to the company first. If the company is not interested in an older, more experienced employee, then no harm, no foul because you wouldn't know that you got rejected for age unless the recruiter tells you. @Michael C. the same for you. Try using a recruiter. It doesn't always work but the recruiter will know if the company is open to all age groups or not. This way you don't have to go through a fruitless interview only to be rejected due to age. @John N. - a good one. Asking about the corporate culture is a very common interview question. Don't give up all. All the best.

  • John N.
    John N.

    Ask Questions. I usually will ask "What's the corporate culture like here?" It almost always results in blank looks, hemming and hawing, while they figure out what to say.

  • Michael C.
    Michael C.

    John G. I am in that same boat. In my industry and location, they want Master Mechanics and pay them minimum wage. The law for California is for a mechanic required to have tools to be paid double the state minimum wage. I haven't seen that in years.... In fact, I was laid off from a low paying job to be replaced with someone who would take less! That happened twice! And yes, I'm over 55. You can't have experience without age. Frustrating!

  • John G.
    John G.

    After a year-long search, I can say without a doubt that ageism is alive and well. I have numerous examples of companies with needlessly tedious interview processes, who after months do not appear to have filled the job opening for which I was certainly qualified, with me or anyone else. Or, how about the job I was qualified for, with over 30 years of experience, that shut down the process after getting my personal details (the first stage) by claiming that I needed a CompSci degree. I have 3 years of college but left for a good offer, and held that job for decades. JD G., I'd say you are an island unto yourself. In one instance, I am very likely the most uniquely qualified job-seeker in the area, due to the specifics of the job. I sailed through the usual preliminary stages, only to be rejected for a reason that was essentially irrelevant, and well known from the first, after the in-person interview. Age discrimination at its finest.

  • Mary M.
    Mary M.

    The problem is very few people want to hire a housewife, who worked part time jobs. My husband has past away and now I need money to live. I not one of those housewife who sit in front of TV and eats.

  • JD G.
    JD G.

    About Glenn K's Comment, "If you're over 55 you're toast unless you know the boss or can bribe someone". I just turned 56 and I feel that age discrimination is 'in-play' in some companies, but I have received more than one offer from a couple of company's and I am a fat, balding and rugged looking individual who looks 65. I think that if you are on your game and you fit your in you get the position. The worse thing you can do is dye your hair and mustache, cause it always looks orange or blue! If you do dye, don't forget the eyebrows!

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the great comments. @Susan Martin thanks for the comment. It's always a great idea to find out as much as you can about a company before you apply. After all, if you are 60 and the company photo shows nothing but 20 somethings - you probably won't be considered for a position. Sad but true. It is a whole new world out there for job seekers. @Teresa H. if they answered all of your questions during the interview, then that's fine. You can just say that. Always try to ask for next steps prior to leaving the interview and then follow up with hand-written thank you notes. @Steven S. that is just totally crazy to go on 11 interviews only to lose the position! I love the recruiters response - that they were willing to forego their fee in order to allow you to get your foot in the door and prove yourself. So sorry that you lost the position in the end. But now - well now you are the king of interviews! You know that nothing is going to rattle your nerves and that you are great at answering the questions. The next interview that you get may just be THE one! All the best.

  • Susan Martin
    Susan Martin

    Yes, age is the factor that seems to marginalize many of us from getting jobs. Look around the work places when you're interviewed or at the group shots of employees on their websites. It's a new world and many of us are weary of jumping through multiple hoops for naught-even if you have a referral from a millennial! Is it possible, of course, but might be better to look at smaller businesses.

  • Teresa H.
    Teresa H.

    The positions I am interviewing for are jobs I have successfully done for 20 years, have kept up with teaching and learning theories, have a Master's Degree in Curriculum Development and have worked with students' with many diverse needs. Most any question I might have is covered in the interview, so I usually do not have any or have to make up something. Not real sure what kind of question they would be asking for. Thanks

  • Steven S.
    Steven S.

    I just completed an 11 interview series with a company that would have been a great place to work. I got feedback from HR on each interview and the feedback in every case was very very good. It seemed that everyone that I met with thought that I was a fantastic candidate. Hr feed me written feedback from each of the 11 sessions. In the end, I was told that they were ready to move forward BUT thy needed the CTO's final approval before making the offer. I had previously presented 4 professional references, five former manager recommendations and 15 client testimonials regarding the quality of my technical, business acumen and excellent soft skills. I was very comfortable in the thought I was going to get an offer for this Director level position. A few days passed, the days turned into a week, then 10 days and I followed up with the recruiter and was informed that earlier the previous day the 'we will pass on Steven' note came in via email and all that was said was that I had all these wonderful skills and everyone just loved me but (someone) had some concerns my actual technical capabilities and that they had difficulty making the decision to continue interviewing till the 'perfect candidate' came along. I was totally floored after 11 interviews and all the positive feedback and was never given a chance to even address any concerns that my hands on technical skills might not be where they needed to be. And after 30 years of hands on experience in the technologies utilized at this company, it just didn't feel like that was the real reason. I'll never know for sure but the recruiter even made the company an offer, and a guarantee that if after 90 days they didn't feel I was the right fit, they would totally wave their fee and provide another suitable candidate, also agreed to give them a full 90 days to pay the fee if I turned out to be a good fit after all. I had experience in every technology they utilized, I came prepared with road maps, industry trends, was well read on the company and its culture and connected well with all the employees I met and interviewed with. Sometimes, the hiring process just doesn't make sense when you don't get the job. I wonder what was not quite right in this case. I would have really liked to have been the new Director and led them forward to the next level in 2017. #OneStepCloserToAYes

  • Michael G.
    Michael G.

    That's great to know,I made the mistake of asking only one question and it had nothing to do with the place of employment.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @Craig A you just about summed it all up. It is a process and not always a fun one. It certainly is a job to find a job. We try to stress this all of the time - to treat the job search as a job. Things aren't like they were 10 years ago and I dare say that the job market is going to change once again under our new administration. We just have to try to roll with the punches. @Glenn K it can be hard getting a job the older that we get but not impossible and I am living proof of that. @Kimberly B it can be tough when you take a job that doesn't fulfill you. All you can do is keep searching out the type of job you want and continue to apply. Do you have any friends or former coworkers who are in the industry that you are seeking? Try going through them if you can. I know, I know - I will get slammed for saying this because everyone feels that it doesn't work that way today; that you can't pass your resume on through someone else but I have seen it work time and time again. So take it with a grain of salt. It's worth the attempt. @Isobel Morgenstern thanks for your comment. Well you sure did go through a lot for that interview. So sorry. Sounds like the position may be right but that the company was the wrong one to benefit from all of your hard work and preparation. The fact that they said that you talk to much and didn't ask questions goes to show that they weren't really paying attention and that they probably already have someone else in mind for the position. Keep hold of the information that you have and be ready when the next company calls - a company that really will listen and really is seeking a new employee. Al the best.

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