Jan 07

Reasons You Didn’t Get Hired-Part II

student debt survivor

Enjoyed part I of the “Reasons You Didn’t Get Hired series”?, well here’s part II.

Recently I hired an entry-level employee (college degree, no experience needed) to be a part of my team. During that process I was amazed to see a whole host of bizarre things. Admittedly, I’m a little old fashioned when it comes to interviewing and hiring, but wow there are some applicants who need a little “schooling” in the whole job interview process. So for your amusement and reading pleasure, here are some of the reasons, “you” didn’t get hired-part II:

  1. Interview Attire- You came to my office dressed like a hipster. When did it become OK to wear jeans to an interview? I don’t care that they are “dressy” jeans. You show up in jeans, the interview is over. I’m taking time out of my day to interview you, pretend like you care. Side note: if you show up dressed like a lobster as in the photo above, I might have security escort you out, or you might get hired on the spot.
  2. Timing- You came 30 minutes early. Obviously you shouldn’t come late, but don’t arrive “too” early either. If our interview is at 2pm, please don’t show up at 1:15. If you arrive more than 15 minutes early I have to re-arrange my day, or leave you sitting in the lobby. Both situations make me feel bad, and you don’t want that to be my first impression of you.
  3. Thank yous- You didn’t send a thank you. I interviewed 7 other candidates. Remind me of a connection we made over something, or what makes you stand out. If you don’t thank me (e-mail is fine) I won’t hire you, even if I liked you.
  4. Thoughtful Responses- You spoke horribly about your former boss or former co-workers. Even if you hated them and they were all a bunch of assholes, keep your comments to yourself. If you have bad things to say about them, they probably have bad things to say about you, and I’m not going to take the time to figure out who’s “right”.
  5. Friendliness-You ignored my receptionist/my patients. I work at a non-profit and my clients are often waiting with you in the lobby. If you’re nasty to one of them, or appear standoffish, that will get back to me. Ditto for the way you treat my receptionist. Once an interviewee was grilled by one of the clients in the waiting room. When asked if she was going to work at the agency she replied, “I hope so, I think I’d like working here”. Good answer! I hired her.

Been an interviewer/interviewee recently? What were your experiences?
Missed Part I? Check it out: HERE

Image: Ted Murphy


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  1. I never send a thank you, perhaps that is what I have been doing wrong all these years?

    1. I always look for one and I always send one. Sounds like other folks don’t. This might vary industry to industry? Can’t hurt your chances to send one.

  2. I would say “dress appropriately”. For my current job, I was flat-out told by the HR guy not to wear a suit to the interview. He said no-one in the office wears suits and it would be highly frowned upon. I went with a dress that was still dressy compared to how we dress in the office usually (jeans and T-shirts are par for the course for me), and got the job. =)

    1. Very true, you have to know the place you’re interviewing (company culture is important-smart to ask HR!). For my company a suit would be overkill, but I’d rather someone show up in a suit then in jeans. We can wear jeans to work, but on an interview I’d expect someone at least wear black pants or khakis.

  3. These are all great tips! I once showed up over dressed to an interview. I was told the job was for something else, and it turned out they lied and it was just customer service (this was after I had 2 degrees). So I was wearing a suit and had a briefcase. I was so mad!

    1. That stinks, but good for you for at least dressing the part for the job you thought you were interviewing for. It’s too bad they lied to you about the job though. Waste of your time and theirs.

  4. These are great tips! I am a firm believer in the thank you note as well as thoughtful responses. The thank you note takes five minutes max and can help you set apart, plus it’s simply courteous to do so. The thoughtful response shows them you’re a critical thinker and well spoken.

    1. Thanks, they’ve always worked for me. If I had two candidates and I like them equally and one sent a thank you, he/she’d be the person I hired. A thoughtful thank you note can never hurt your chances of getting hired.

  5. Excellent tips! Where do young people learn these skills though? At school, through their parents, by reading a book? I often wonder. I think the parents should play a role in it.

    1. I’m not sure where I learned how to interview. I guess a combination of my parents tips and things I read on the Internet/talked about with professors at school. I have no idea where young people (wow I feel old writing that) learn interviewing skills. They’re so important and so underrated in my opinion.

  6. Sending a follow-up email or thank you is important so they can actually remember who you are. you may have killed it in the interview, but so di 3 others, and to stand out and keep them fresh on your mind, a friendly follow-up is always the best policy. Unless you get the “don’t call us, we’ll can you speech…” Then you didn’t get the job.

    1. Yup, if they tell you not to call you’re out. A good thank you will always get you to the top of my list (if you were in the top candidates). If I interviewed a few people and then couldn’t choose, they thank you writer will be my choice.

  7. You know what, I never sent thank yous either. And I rarely had a hard time getting a job. (I must’ve been dang lucky.) I had never even heard of that rule until a few years ago after I had chosen to go back to school. New practice once I reenter the working world!

    1. Lucky, or the best candidate for the job! I think writing a thank you is a good idea, but if you’re the best candidate I wouldn’t chose someone else just because they wrote the thank you note. It would be an interesting study wouldn’t it?

  8. I overheard a manager discussing potential employees with a hiring manager and they both thought it was strange when an interviewee showed up over 1/2 hour early and waited in the lobby vs. their car or a coffee shop.

    1. I would never show up more than 10 minutes early. It’s just weird. And it makes everyone involved feel weird. If the interviewee didn’t feel strange waiting for that long in the lobby he/she should have. Makes me wonder about his/her ability to pick up on social cue, and in my line of business that’s a deal breaker.

  9. Your list of things doesn’t surprise me! There are a lot of ill prepared people going to interviews and never find out what they did wrong. I think every student needs to take a class in interviewing. College should make it either a one credit or a graduation requirement. I believe there are statistics for universities regarding employed graduates within so many months of graduation. Don’t they want those number s to increase?

    1. Right? I don’t know what universities don’t have some sort of required half day seminar or something. You might be the smartest most qualified candidate, but if you blow the interview the employer will never know it.

  10. I got one of the best employees ever from a thank you. She didn’t initially get the job, but sent a very nice email. When the new hire didn’t work out and left in a week, I jumped at the chance to hire the one with the nice manners. She stayed for several years and was amazing.

    1. Oh nice, proof that those thank yous really are beneficial. Sounds like a good hire!

  11. These are all painfully true! We’ve had people drop off their resume in pajamas at my work. Some of them are also pushy, which never works well.

    1. Pushy and pajamas are never a good way to present yourself 😉

  12. I tried hard but still didn’t get the jobs.

    I struggle with social anxiety disorder, something I never chose. I was dressed properly, was polite, answered questions to the best of my ability, and still didn’t get hired.

    I honestly think it amounts to discrimination not to hire someone because they “seem shy” if everything else about them is right. Nobody chooses this debilitating and life-ruining condition. I may address it in a future post on my blog.

    1. Hang in there there are certainly jobs that don’t require being an extrovert or overly outgoing.

  13. Great list. I’m always amazed when people dress for interviews like they’re going to the bar or out with friends. Do they really value the opportunity I’m presenting?

    I definitely don’t feel bad making people sit in the lobby, though. If they have to come early, that’s fine. They know they’re early, too.

    1. Unless you’re applying to work at a bar (and even then I suspect they want you to come in dressed like you wanted to work there, not go clubbing with the patrons), dressing like you’re going out partying is probably a “no no”.

  14. All great tips. It reminds me of this one job I applied for that I didn’t get. I was told by the HR rep that this was a “meet and greet.” Informal, just a chance for me to get to know the company before I was extended an interview. It sounded like a good idea, until I was put in a room in front of two VPs who told me I had 30 minutes as they proceeded a barrage of interview questions.

    Lesson learned: Always go in expecting an interview.

    1. Good advice. You never know what they’ll throw at you. You always have to go in ready, just in case.

  15. Interviewing is tricky and an art form. I have rarely had an unsuccessful interview and it is in large part because I have been following the same or similar tips to yours above. In addition, it helps to read up on human psychology and learn how to plant seeds in your dialogue.


    1. Enjoyed reading your terrible interview habits post. Between the two of us we should be able to get a job 😉 or at least interview well.

      1. Thanks KK, glad someone is reading. Getting a job, if one has good interview habits, isn’t the hard part. Staying in a job is.

  1. […] @ Student Debt Survivor writes Reasons You Didn’t Get Hired-Part II – In the job market? Looking for a new career? Have you made any of these interviewing […]

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