Last week I asked our team of consultants to give me the reasons why companies had decided not to offer their candidates a job after after attending one or 2 interviews.
There were some unusual responses and experiences from each consultant did vary; ranging from the not uncommon “came up against an internal applicant at the last hurdle who got the job”, to the seemingly unfair : “was too enthusiastic about the role”, and this year we saw a rise in the emergence of the “unwritten non- compete clause”. This is where the Senior Executives of 2 competing companies , agree to not poach any of the competitors staff in exchange for the same. This is more common than you think. What we found this year was that for some companies, these agreements had been put in place, without necessarily informing the hiring managers. When it came to the crunch of offering a job, the company interviewing was unable to make the offer to their desired candidate because they worked for a competitor with whom they had made this agreement. It is always worth checking whether any perspective employer has such a policy in place, be it formally or informally before applying to a job with them (and it is also worth checking your own contract of employment for this) .
In addition to the above, there were some more common reasons for rejection. at interview. What was surprising was the fact that these reasons applied to not just junior job seekers, but even some of the most experienced of candidates. We thought you might like to see what they were.
1. Didn’t plan their journey, were late and didn’t apologise
There’s nothing to it really. First impressions always matter and when an interviewer takes time out of their day to interview, they expect applicants to arrive a bit early or at the very least on time. Granted there are sometimes extenuating circumstances which will mean that you might be late, but there’s nothing ruder than failing to apologise to all the people who are involved in the interview process. This is even worse for applicants who insist on being interviewed before or after standard working hours.
2. Was rude to the receptionist
Remember the receptionist is the one person who sees everyone in the company and if he/ she is friendly and talkative then chances are he/she will also be speaking to the hiring manager at some point. Your behaviour to her and what you do whilst you wait, may make more of an impression than you think.
3. Was uninspiring. Didn’t ask any relevant or interesting questions.
This is not as infrequent as you may think. Remember what an interview is all about. It should be the chance for both parties to ask questions and see if there is a match. You’ve spent ages trying to get that interview and have prepared already what you want to say. You should always have a few interesting questions up your sleeve. Its not just about putting your case forward or asking the most obvious questions which are also relevant (such as what the team are like, what the progression opportunities are, what are the challenges in the role). You should have seen the website and read any related social media material, blogs or articles to give you a feel of who they are. Make the most of your time in the interview by asking interesting questions that will show you are interested in the bigger picture as well, the team, the clients (if relevant) and the company . Not asking questions can give the impression of being disinterest, unenthusiastic and bored. And on that note, when you do ask the questions look enthusiastic and give plenty of eye contact to everyone present. Please note that if your second interview involves a presentation, you should still have the opportunity to ask lots of questions at the end. Asking for feedback always outs you in a better league than other applicants. Ask the interviewers for their thoughts on how your content or style would suit the overall demands of the role, or style of the company. Ask as much as you can, it may be your last chance to overcome any reservations the interviewers may have.
4. Inability to answer questions well.
Lack of preparation can mean poorly worded replies or not enough concise information to show your skills. Furthermore being shy and timid isn’t much of an excuse anymore. Yes of course people do get nervous, but a way of overcoming this is by preparing your answers to a range of questions which may come up. Clients said that they “struggled to understand why the candidate was interested in the role” and “failed to answer questions directly, waffled.” To make sure you don’t join this group, find out from your recruitment consultant, who will actually be interviewing you and what their role is. Ask them what questions they may ask you and what to expect. Go through the job description and consider all the skills required on the person specification. You’d be surprised how many applicants have applied for jobs and sail into an interview with confidence without even looking at the details on the job description and what kills are needed. Then have a think to yourself and highlight any skills you have. List specific examples of where you can demonstrate these skills at work, or if you are very junior, you can include school/ university projects. Consider any skills you don’t have and think about how you might find out about those. Ask your consultant how important these skills are and what the expectations are from the company. If you aren’t sure about any of your answers, check your answers with someone whose advice you respect and ask them to give you feedback.
5. Lack of chemistry, culture fit.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do, if the chemistry aint there then it won’t work. There can be many reasons for a clash in culture fit. The applicant who likes being in a quiet environment may not suit a company which is loud, noisy and buzzy. The corporate formal dresser might hate the relaxed laid back (or seemingly so) presentation culture of a creative agency. The candidate who thrives in a large, multinational, process-led work environment may not cope well in a small, independent “hands on” agency with seemingly no formal structures and support processes in place.We can’t do much about changing the culture of a company. The trick is to show your adaptability and versatility (something really important in the world of modern working times). I’m not suggesting you don’t wear a suit to interview, if it is for a job in a creative agency. Its really up to you how you want to be seen but you also have to think beyond your clothes. Look at the website and see if you can find some keywords that reflect the company’s ethos and the types of people who are employed there. Listen to the language they use and see if this sounds like the way you would like to be represented. Ask the interviewer about themselves and the work they do and show an interest. Doing this will show you are interested in them and will automatically engage them in the interview process.