Why didn’t I get the job? You ask, and you are given some feedback that seems a little general and very unhelpful and you wish you could hear from recruiters what they thought. Here, we explore what recruiters think when they choose one candidate over another.
First, remember that you have done a lot of things right. You have a polished CV, probably made exceptional by your commitment to online home learning courses and broader voluntary experience. You passed the telephone interview, so your expertise still feels relevant. However, now you are with the hiring manager – you are about to make these common mistakes – or not – as you are now warned and prepared!
You got the timing wrong
You showed up late for the interview. You didn’t mean to; you just read the letter wrong. You might even have a reasonable explanation for your delay. No matter what your reason the manager may immediately assume that you are not serious about the role. They might go one step further and scribble ‘unreliable’ on their interview notes.
It is also possible to turn up too early. It is a common mistake out of eagerness and excitement. However, you come across as a little desperate, and you are also making someone feel the pressure of your waiting. By accident, you may have stressed or annoyed someone.
The golden window is 15 minutes before your interview. If you want to make sure you are on time – go to the nearest coffee shop to wait until this 15-minute window and take the time to review your notes.
You were rude to the receptionist
You are on show from the moment you enter the building. You are being assessed by everyone you meet. It should go without saying, but let’s say it anyway, be polite and pleasant with everyone you meet. Take particular care with the receptionist, who by their demeanour will communicate a negative first impression. Some managers will speak to the receptionist or the admin assistant who walked you to the office, to ask their thoughts. They will be seeking to understand if you work well with others and will positively add to the team dynamic.
You ignored or misunderstood instructions
The letter inviting you to interview will ask you to bring items or will ask you to complete preliminary tasks. You may need to bring your ID or your proof of education, for instance. Whatever the request, they have a reason for it, and by not following the instruction, you limit their ability to process your application. Failure to comply with guidelines looks like you are not up to the duties of the job. Even though you have followed all the steps precisely before – else you would not have got to interview – efficiency is an essential quality to employers.
You lacked polish
You may have looked at the company culture and read in the letter that they preferred an informal dress. Therefore, although you may seem out of place in a suit in such circumstances, you should still present well. Looking sloppy gives the impression that you are sloppy. A messy outward appearance could, in their mind, easily translate to messy with your work. You may find this superficial, but they are looking to make reasonably quick judgements. If you are unsure of the culture, it is best to err on the side of too smart than not smart enough.
You might not stay
Everything about your CV sparks with eagerness and ability. You have demonstrated a desire to work in media, let’s say, but you are applying for an entry-level customer service post. The interviewer would assume that the position with this company is only a temporary stopgap for you and that you have no vision to excel in a long-term relationship with the company.
High turnover costs the company money and makes the hiring manager look bad. You are going to have to sell why you are excited about this position. You will be expected to make explicit why you are keen to extend your stay with the company.
Poor body language
A weak handshake and poor eye contact could be the end of your chances of getting the job. Your entry into the room could ultimately betray your lack of eagerness for the position or how awkward you feel around people. Having a strong posture, smiling appropriately, and confident eye contact are all positive ways to give the impression you are interested in the role.
Finally, you should practice answering questions before the interview. You need someone to point out to you if you are fidgeting or if you are using too many fillers such as “um” and “er”.