And now you have to face the music: You didn't get a shot at a final interview, let alone that coveted job offer. What went down? Let's look at various scenarios:
1. You talked too much/too little.
2. You appeared nervous and lacked confidence.
3. Your soft skills weren't so sharp.
4. Your technical skills weren't up to par...
5. Or they were too on point and you were deemed overqualified.
6. The hiring manager felt threatened by your sparkling skills and spot-on experience.
7. You were too vague and didn't illustrate examples when asked behavioral-based questions.
8. Not a cultural fit with the team and organization.
9. Too much of a fit – maybe you appeared overconfident.
10. Your salary requirements were too high.
11. Your references bailed on you and provided not-so-pleasant insight.
12. Your thank-you note had errors.
13. You were too aggressive when following up.
14. You were late to the interview.
15. Or maybe not very polite to the receptionist.
16. It wasn't about you – it was about them, since they went with an internal candidate.
17. They closed the requisition, downgraded it or upgraded it into something else. Or hiring has been frozen.
18. The hiring manager is out of town so all decisions are on hold regardless.
19. You didn't look the part – maybe you dressed a bit informal and the interviewers' read it as you're not taking the position seriously.
20. You threw your current/former employer under the bus.
21. It was simply not meant to be.
Essentially, there could be a plethora of reasons why you didn't get selected to move to the next round and get the job.
Quickly replay the interview in your mind; tweak accordingly next time. Trust the process, the reasons and not having all of the answers. Don't try to analyze too much, since it's easy to become stagnant in your own head instead of pounding the pavement. At this point, you can conduct a succinct self-awareness check to see if you can alter anything for the next interview.
Yes, it's deflating when you don't get a job you're yearning for, but every interview is an opportunity to learn and improve your approach. Maybe your experience was a stretch and didn't quite translate into the new role you're pursuing. As in not-so-relevant. Quickly scan the interview in your mind and tweak accordingly for the next one. For this example, next time you can connect the dots better with your skill set and strengths.
It's not you, it's them. In another instance, let's say you were polite, arrived on time, felt comfortable and confident with your answers and the dialogue and demonstrated required skills and experience for the position. Trust that you did your best and it wasn't meant to be.
Sure, you may be tempted to wonder what could have happened. The job requisition could have been filled internally, they could have selected another candidate who was a rehire or it could have been put on hold, to name a few. Countless scenarios occur behind the scenes; it's challenging for a job seeker to surmise. Here's the good news – you don't have to surmise by spending too much time and energy thinking about it. It's not always about you and the process isn't very transparent.
Ever upward. You may be tempted to ask the recruiter for specific feedback, but chances are they won't provide it. For starters, it could put the company at risk since they probably don't provide feedback to every single candidate and because they should treat all candidates equally. Plus, it opens a can of worms – they need to focus on candidates they're going to hire, not the ones they're turning down.
And in the spirit of that mind set, you should also focus forward. Decide what you're going to improve, such as providing a range for a salary requirement instead of a specific number, and pour your attention into prospective employers. Propel forward with your search and gain momentum with each and every interview, self-assess and then forge ahead. Ever upward!
Vicki Salemi is the author of Big Career in the Big City and creator, producer and host of Score That Job. This New York City-based career expert and public speaker possesses more than 15 years of corporate experience in recruiting and human resources. She coaches college grads individually with an intense Job Search Boot Camp, writes and edits the MediaJobsDaily blog on Mediabistro, and conducts interviews as a freelance journalist with celebrities and notable names. BlogHer named her one of the country's top 25 career and business women bloggers worth reading!