The interviews are over…and I didn’t get the job. That job I wanted. The job I seriously thought I was going to get and knew would be a perfect match. I didn’t get the job. As Maxwell Smart used to say: “Missed it by that much.”
And of course, I’m asking myself: Why?
There could be any number of reasons why I didn’t get the job. Perhaps they decided to hire/promote someone from inside the company, which means my interview was mostly a formality. (Yeah, that makes me feel better.) It could be they eliminated the position, combined it with another position or determined not to fill it at this time. Speculations aside, there are times when hiring decisions are simply out of my control.
Another factor that can come into the decision-making process is one that’s much-discussed but difficult to define. It’s not tangible or even measurable. But don’t let the subliminal nature of this factor deceive—it’s very real! It’s called by many names, but I think of it in terms of “connection.” (Others use the concept of “chemistry” which is also a good description.) Sometimes, two people just don’t click; the rapport is not there.
I’m not saying this is right (and certainly not saying I like it), but if we’re honest, we will admit to the reality. We all know it happens: we meet someone and instantly don’t like them (and, as difficult as it to believe, the reverse sometimes happens--they meet and instantly dislike me). The same can happen in interviews as well. And while we’d wish the hiring person would be mature enough to get past it, or at least seek to overcome it, that may not happen.
The reasons for such a personality disconnect are probably complex and doubtless impossible to isolate. I might remind that person of someone who hurt them very deeply. Maybe my race is an issue, or (as we’ve seen in the past) age is a factor. They might be just having a really bad day or struggling with issues that are completely unrelated to our interview. (see my side note, below) It would probably take a forensic psychologist (or Kreskin) to discover the root cause. But in the meantime, I didn’t get the job because there was just no connection between me and the hiring manager.
Side Note: Lest we put all the blame on the “other side of the desk,” I had this same thing happen as a job seeker. I went in for an interview and from the time I arrived in the man’s office, there was obvious (and open) hostility. It became clear to me that the position was available because the previous employee left due to the travel distance; she’d grown tired of the long commute. Apparently, due to where I lived, this man was concerned about my potential punctuality. His misplaced hostility continued to escalate (along with his volume). I quickly decided I didn’t want to work for this man. I gathered my materials and politely told him that I felt this was not the right place for me. I thanked him for his time and left. I even followed up with a polite email, again thanking him for the interview.
Is there anything I can do about that lack of connection? That question is almost as hard to answer as the “why” question. But just like in dating, we meet folks who just aren’t “our type” and try as hard as we can, there’s just no spark. It’s time to accept the reality and move on.
It also begs the question: if there’s no rapport during the interview, can that come later? To me, it’s doubtful, so this might be a good thing to know early on! Better to know while we’re “dating” (i.e., interviewing) than to get “married” (i.e., hired) and have to deal with it on a daily basis. Right?
Postscript: Just before posting, I happen to read two articles about this same subject. One person (a job seeker) had similar experience, confirming what I discussed here about "chemistry."
The other article was by a recruiter. His assertion was regardless of what the job seeker thinks about why the interview went bad (he discounted the "chemistry" idea completely), it’s almost always the candidate’s fault. (And he invites me to enroll in his six-week workshop where he will teach me how to overcome my bad attitude!)
Interesting perspectives from two sides of the desk, wouldn’t you say?
Next: Let’s look at some practical and specific things we can do when we don’t get that job.