You didn’t get past the recruiter interview stage because...
1. You didn’t answer the questions.
It’s a simple one, but so many people trip up on it!
Listen to the questions carefully to ensure that you understand what is being asked of you. It’s perfectly fine to rephrase the question to ensure that your answer will be adequate.
There is such thing as being too literal in your answers, so consider it carefully and add examples to it. When in doubt, you can ask “does that answer your question or were you looking for something else?”.
Avoid “yes/no” answers at all cost, even if the question seems to be a closed one. For example, instead of just answering “yes” to the question “Do you have experience generating leads?”, try to phrase your answer like this: “In my role at Flourish & Blotts I had to generate 100% of my leads, it was challenging but very interesting because I had to do a lot of investigation on my potential clients”. Or if you haven’t any experience generating leads, don’t just answer “no”, try something like this: “I haven’t as such, however, when I was working for Ollivanders, the leads we were given were all cold and unqualified, so I had to figure out if the contact person was still the right person to talk to and so on.”
2. You rambled too much.
Typically, an interview with a recruiter will take about 30 minutes. In those 30 minutes, the recruiter will want to go through your background, check your CV for gaps, identify why you’ve left your previous roles, ask a specific questions to determine your suitability for the job, tell you about the job and the company, and see if that could be a good match for both of you.
That’s a lot to squeeze in 30 minutes! Which is why it’s important that you keep your answers short and sweet (but still substantial). Get to the point in 1 minute or less and keep it simple!
3. You have no idea what the company does.
Talk about a cliché!
When you apply for a job, try to at least do a minimal amount of research on the company. Not every company is a household brand, and some do really complicated stuff, but take 5 minutes to Google them before you embark on an interview. Otherwise, you could end up looking completely disinterested.
4. You weren’t able to walk me through your experience properly.
As someone who's had jobs doing a lot of different things, I know well how difficult that can be However, as part of your interview preparation, you should know what you have done, your experience and achievements. That’s in the bare minimum expected of you. You cannot limit yourself to listing your duties as if you were reading a check-list. If what you're telling me could apply to anyone on your team, that's not very interesting.
Why did you take this job? Why did you leave this company? If your experience is a bit haphazard, it’s all the more important that you can explain why you went from A to B. We all make mistakes, and everyone will one day take a job and regret it almost immediately; it’s ok, as long as you are prepared to explain it.
5. Your answers showed discrepancies from what was written on your CV.
Inconsistencies and discrepancies are a big no-no. Know your figures. Ensure all employment and education dates match up, and if you wrote on your CV that you achieved 103% of your target in Q1 last year, be sure to be consistent when the recruiter asks you about that figure over the phone.
The easiest way to avoid discrepancies is to have your CV proofread by someone else to ensure that all dates and figures are correct.
6. You didn’t support your answers with facts and figures.
Everyone wants concrete examples during interviews. Don’t say: “I improved processes”.
Say instead: “I worked on improving the billing process to ensure that the reimbursement time-frame decreased from 2 working days to 1 working day, which in turn increased the customer satisfaction level by 10% in the first quarter it was implemented”.
7. You were rude on the phone.
Making a good first impression is crucial whether you’re face to face or over the phone. Particularly if the role you’ve applied for is in contact with the public or with clients, in which case the phone interview in itself in an assessment.
Best practice with any phone interview is to go to a quiet place a couple of minutes before the interview is due to start, introduce yourself when you pick up the phone (“Hello, [insert name] speaking?”), and continue to be polite and clear throughout the rest of the phone call.
If something came up and you're no longer in a position to do the interview, send a quick email to the recruiter ahead of the call, even if it's 4 minutes before.
You went to onsite/face-to-face interview but didn’t get the job because...
1. You were late.
We know that things can happen that are outside our control, but being late is a massive turn off for hiring managers, even if they don’t say so. So always give yourself some extra time to plan for that unplanned call from your manager/that Zoom update, and if it looks like you’re going to be late or just on time, give a call to the recruiter or coordinator you've been working with to let them know and apologise for your lateness when you do arrive.
2. You didn’t have any questions for the interviewers.
This is a massive pet peeve of all hiring managers.
You may have done a decent interview, but if you don’t have any questions when they ask you if you have any, that could be a deal breaker but mostly, it could make the difference between you and another candidate.
If the interviewer happens to answer all of your previously prepared questions, don’t panic. Try asking questions such as:
- Why did you decide to join [company name]?
- How is success measured in this team?
- When you think of your top performer, what qualities/skills do they have that you’re looking for the person who gets this job to have?
- Do you have any reservation about my profile for this role?
3. You weren’t prepared.
Hiring managers expect you to have done your research on the job, the company and the product.
Depending on the job you’re interviewing for, the amount of research expected may vary. The more technical or product-oriented the job is, the more you’re expected to know about it.
We don’t expect you to know everything (after all, you don’t work there yet), but we do expect you to know about our product(s), which one you find most interesting and why.
Not being able to articulate why you are interested in this particular job also shows a lack of preparation.
4. You assumed the interviewer understood the context of your example.
Remember that your interviewer doesn’t know anything about what it’s like to work where you work. You may have done something that was going above and beyond your job description, but if you don’t tell your interviewers, they’ll never get why it was something out of the ordinary. Example: “I was working as a contractor for GoogleMaps, and as a contractor you’re expected not to deviate from your job description, so when I did XXX my manager was really impressed by the initiatives I had taken”.
5. You didn’t “sell yourself” to the interviewer.
Selling yourself is super important during any job interview, it does sound horrible and it takes a lot of confidence to tell your interviewer(s) you're the best thing since sliced bread without boasting or being arrogant. It requires preparation and practice to be able to do it well.
Being engaging and passionate is the easiest way to sell yourself. And being genuinely motivated for the role goes a long way. You don’t have to jump up and down on your chair to do that. Smiling, using facts and examples and asking genuine questions will really help you show what you're passionate and great about.
6. There were other candidates who did a better interview than you.
"You did really well during the interview, and your background is great for the role, however we’ve decided to progress with another candidate.”
As a recruiter, one of the hardest things to do is decline someone who did a good interview, received good feedback from the hiring manager, and yet still didn’t get the job.
What makes it worse is, I can’t tell you much about the other candidate’s background. Maybe they have previous experience with Salesforce and while it’s not a requirement for the job, it may come it handy in a few months time to have someone with that skill. Maybe they did a slightly better interview / seemed more passionate / connected better with the hiring manager… Either way, all I can tell you is to keep doing what you’re doing and hopefully you’ll have better luck next time. I’m not deliberately trying to pawn you off. So please be professional when you receive the news even though you’re disappointed. You did get good feedback so it’s quite likely you’ll get another call from the company when another suitable role open.
7. The hiring manager changed their expectations for the role after meeting with you.
That happens more often that we would like, especially when the role is a newly created role. The hiring manager would have an idea in mind about what they need for this role, and as they meet candidates, they realise that really they need someone with more experience, a different language or a different skill, or someone resigned and suddenly the focus is to replace them, not to add new skills to the team.
It stinks for the candidate and for the recruiter, but it’s a fact of hiring and we all have to deal with it.
8. The hiring manager felt that you would be hard to manage.
This is a controversial one.
Beyond your ability to do the job, the interviewer is also assessing team and culture fit. The feeling that you would be hard to manage can come from various things that you say, such as how you like to be managed, or if you’re quite negative about your current/previous manager. There’s no magical recipe here, sometimes, the company, the culture or the team are just not the right fit for you.
Being rejected sure is no fun, but when you think it through you can learn something from every rejection. Most of us don’t interview on a regular basis, so it’s not a skill that we can practice to make perfect. And if a lot of these reasons seem biased to you, you're probably right. Recruiters, hiring managers and interviewers are human and in some way biased. The best of us will be aware of our biases and fight them while making a decision, but you can help yourself by preventing some of these by being more prepared.
Best of luck for your next interview!