You triple-checked your resume, wrote a fresh, personalized cover letter for each job you applied for, had your clothes pressed, and showed up to the interview early. So why isn’t anyone calling you back?
Much like dating, getting the silent treatment from your would-be employers leaves you spinning your wheels and trying to fill in the blanks. But you thought it went well? Why aren’t they calling you? What’s up with all the generic “it’s not us, it’s you” emails?
Perhaps it goes deeper than the numbers against you. On average, corporate job posts bring in 250 resumes, four to six people are brought in for an interview, and only one person ends up with a job.
The revolving door that is the modern-day hiring process leaves a lot to be desired. Very rarely do job applicants receive a personal phone call from their interviewer telling them that it isn’t going to work out.
Fears of lawsuits plague HR departments, making it highly unlikely that anyone will give you a straight answer as to why, exactly, you were passed over for the job.
This is not only damaging to your confidence, but also directly affects your attitude as you trudge on through more interviews, unsure of what you’re doing wrong. To help you troubleshoot, here’s a list of the top five most common reasons employers could be passing you over. You might be surprised.
Table of Contents
- 1 You were rude.
- 2 You didn’t follow instructions.
- 3 Poor non-verbal cues.
- 4 You said the wrong thing.
- 5 Have you Googled yourself lately?
You were rude.
Showing up on time is the easy part, but from the moment you step through the door you’re under the microscope. Behaviors that might seem normal to you, will appear rude to others when you’re under this kind of intense scrutiny.
You were dismissive or short with the receptionist.
If you’re the type of person who thinks of administrators as “the help” then you clearly haven’t worked in an office before. Admins keep the company running smoothly. They are often a company’s biggest asset and as the “gatekeepers” they are the company’s most trusted employees.
Employers go to great lengths to hire, train, and keep these individuals long term. It is likely that they will be asked to weigh in with their impression of you. Make sure it’s a good one.
You showed poor phone etiquette.
Shut off your phone before you walk in the building and keep it out of sight. Even if your interviewer is running late, don’t spend that time in the lobby making obnoxious phone calls to friends or scanning Facebook.
Grab a magazine from a side table in the lobby and sit tight. During the interview, don’t keep your phone on the table. It may not be fair, but this behavior is especially scrutinized for millennials (but show me a 40-year old who isn’t addicted to the iPhone). Demonstrate to your interviewer that you can disconnect and be present when they need you to be.
You brought coffee or food with you into the interview.
There is a fine line between confident and arrogant. Don’t cross it. Slam an espresso and eat a granola bar on your way to the interview if you’re that famished, but don’t make yourself that comfortable just yet.
If someone offers you coffee in the office, great. But don’t waltz in with a Unicorn Frappuccino like this interview is just a pitstop and you absolutely won’t have another minute that day to enjoy a treat from Starbucks. Again, illustrate that you can be present.
You didn’t follow instructions.
You may be going on a lot of interviews lately, as is the case when you’re actively job searching. Just don’t assume that every interview is going to be the same. To keep from appearing arrogant, you should always keep more than a few copies of your resume on hand just in case the interviewer doesn’t remember you immediately. They are, after all, reviewing a number of candidates.
Beyond that, interviewers occasionally ask you to bring a few things with you. Sometimes buildings require a government issued ID for access, they need 12 copies of your resume, a portfolio, or a printed copy of your references.
It’s important to review your confirmation email the day before your interview, when you’re researching the company and preparing, to make sure there isn’t anything that you missed.
A first impression isn’t likely to lead to a second impression when you immediately demonstrate that you can’t follow basic instructions — which to employers indicates what’s to come in terms of your job performance.
Poor non-verbal cues.
The scrutiny doesn’t stop at your outfit, your interaction with the receptionist, and whether or not you brought your own coffee. Apart from the obvious “ums” and “uhs,” non-verbal cues have a huge impact on your perception. You might be able to get by with a weak handshake, but when combined with other body language you can appear shifty or untrustworthy, as ridiculous as that sounds.
Do not slouch.
This may sound like your grandmother speaking, but don’t slouch! Sit up straight and don’t recline in the chair. Sit forward, put your hands on your lap, and lean in. Appear interested and engaged. Bad posture can communicate everything from disrespect to a lack of enthusiasm.
Make eye contact.
Eye contact can be tricky, especially when you’re nervous. Too much and you’ll appear a bit creepy, but too little and you won’t display confidence. Oftentimes when you’re not making eye contact, you’re also not projecting your voice.
Make sure to look at the interviewer when they’re speaking, look away when you pause to think, and then return their gaze when you’re responding to their questions. Be present, always.
If you know you have nervous ticks like drumming a pen on the table or pulling on your sleeves or pen-clicking, be sure to practice interviewing with a friend until you can get them under control. Not only does this fidgeting display a lack of confidence — it can be downright irritating to sit through.
You said the wrong thing.
Your interviewer might ask generic interview questions but that doesn’t mean you have to give generic answers. Research the most common interview questions and think about answers that are professional but honest. Practice your answers on a friend to get feedback.
When an employer asks you about your flaws, be honest: you might have difficulty scheduling your day or maybe you feel inclined to say “yes” too often and bite off more than you can chew, missing an occasional deadline or unnecessarily working yourself into the ground. Your employer will appreciate your honesty and you’ll both be able to determine if this job is a good fit for you.
It’s also important not to play victim during an interview. If you are currently unemployed, explain why without bashing your former employers and co-workers. This behavior will make you appear immature and petty.
If you had to leave work due to a family emergency, don’t go into personal details about the ordeal. While it might not be your intention, you could appear as trying to garner sympathy to win the job.
Have you Googled yourself lately?
Do it early and do it often. These days, hiring managers will search your name immediately upon getting access to your profile on LinkedIn, Monster, or Indeed. They will definitely scan the first page of results, sometimes the second or third if your name is more common. They will also look at images. What are they going to find?
About 80% of employers Google prospective job seekers to review their online reputations.
Sometimes this search is done after the fact. After employers have found two or three candidates that they would like to move forward with after the interview, HR will look into each candidate’s online reputation.
43% of Millennials reported that they have been negatively affected by information about them online. When they searched themselves, 20% found inaccurate information, 33% found their content had been shared without their permission, and 12% said they were “unpleasantly surprised” at what they had found.
Did you run a search? Do you like what you see? Did you find posts on Facebook that you were tagged in that are public? Public images you thought were private? Websites you’ve never heard of listing your name and pictures of you on a profile?
There are a number of ways you can remove negative information from the internet, but if managing your online reputation sounds exhausting and stressful, or you feel the situation has gotten out of hand, it’s best to contact professionals.
You can have your online reputation properly scrubbed, monitored, and maintained so you can continue to interview without worry.