**with apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her fabulous romantic sonnet, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways”.
1) You didn’t do your homework. Mr/Ms Google is going to go to straight to heaven for coming up with a search engine that tells you everything you wanted to know, and sometimes more than you wanted to know, about all companies and most people. Depending upon the job, it may indeed sometimes be necessary to wade your way through annual reports but there are usually bite-sized bits of interesting information for you to chuck around in the interview process. If you have arrived at the interview through an agency, they should be able to give you some insight into the position (one would like to think, wouldn’t one) and possibly even a job spec. Read it. More than once. For heavens’ sakes, you can take it into the interview with you if you think it’ll help. The chances are HR or the line manager will think you’re adorably enthusiastic and detail-oriented.
2) You hadn’t practiced the sorts of questions they always ask in interview. Sitting there unable to explain succinctly and accurately why you want the job and/or why you are qualified for the job will not impress anyone, not even your mother. Employment services (like, oh, I don’t know, MERIT CONSULTING) are here to talk you through the process and the oh-I-was-rather-hoping-they-wouldn’t-ask-that-question questions. For example, “Why should I give this job to you rather than the other candidates?” is a bit of a rotter because they don’t tell you anything about the other candidates You have to show how your qualities shine, and you don’t get the chance to trash the others; so unfair.
3) You got the Silver medal. But someone else beat you by 1,000th of a second and took the Gold. You just have to put it down to experience and try for the next job. In this economy it’s not unusual for good people who would previously have aced interviews to be runner up three, four or five times before they get the Gold. Don’t take it personally.
4) Take it personally. You weren’t as good as you thought you were. “I’m a quick learner” is often the cry, and it may even be correct, but employers don’t want you learning on their time. Or you might not actually be quite the hotshot on Excel as you thought you were. “Pivot tables? Sorry?” Either way, your background wasn’t as good as they needed, so they moved on. Oh well.
5) Your whole interview technique wasn’t quite up-to-snuff. You weren’t dressed appropriately, you gave rambling, unprepared answers, you dropped the f-bomb (I’m not making this stuff up), you didn’t answer questions sensibly – a whole slew of things you could have done better. Read my other blogs for Things Not To Do or Say.
6) You concentrated too much on yourself and not enough on them. Of course, we know you want the job, THEY know you want the job, but remember, they want to fill it with someone who will be able to do it, who will be happy and stay, and then they won’t have to replace. So banging on about how you want a challenge, how you want to get your foot in the door, when did the last person get promoted, what’s your annual review process, can I leave early to go for classes, how flexible is the vacation policy, this is not what they want to hear. There are times to ask (well, some of) these questions but the interview process isn’t usually it. You should have asked questions about the most important qualities that make the person in this job an outrageous success. Where do you want the company to be in five years and how can I contribute to the journey? Now THAT’S what they want to hear.
7) Your follow-up technique left a LOT to be desired. You called them, you emailed them, you called them again, you pretended to have questions about benefits to give yourself a reason to be calling them again. You somehow crossed the line from sensible, interested, concerned follow-up over to Stalking Pest. It’s a tough call sometimes, but you could always just actually ask them when would be a good time to call again. If you’ve come through an agency, you won’t ever be calling them because that’s one of the many things we do for you.
8) The job disappeared. They decided to put it on hold, their budget for it got frozen. Whatever. You would have been perfect. It’s a bit like reason 3) except you got the Gold and then they ran out of medals. And that’s a really, really, really frustrating reason not to get a job but it occasionally happens. Think like Pollyanna; there’s a better job out there for you.