You Aced the Interview…But You Won’t Get the Job
You hang up the phone. They want you to come in for an interview.
You always hated how you sound over the phone, some think you sound like a girl over the phone (being called ma’am over the phone numerous times gets frustrating) when in fact you are sporting opposite gender parts.
That doesn’t matter now, you did enough in the phone interview that they want to bring you in.
You’ve spent a while working on Your Job Search, and results are filing in.
They are going to pay for your flight, a rental car, and a hotel! On top of that, they are going to take you out someplace fancy for lunch.
It’s in the bag! They’re on me like a fat kid on cake, they want me.
“Pack your bags honey, this job’s mine. We’re shaking the dust from this town.”
A free trip! Nothing’s free anymore, not even free checking accounts, but you got one.
You spend the flight reading a book, while also planning ahead for the interview.
- You study up on the company and with who you’re interviewing
- Prepare notes and questions to ask to show your studies
- Rehearse common questions such as: “tell me about yourself.”
Confidence becomes your middle name as you get off the plan and head to your hotel. Plush towels, that’s a plus! You go over some more notes before setting the alarm and going to sleep.
Off the pillow your head pops as the clock buzzes. You do a quick take to make sure you didn’t oversleep. Nope, still on time.
You get all your things in order, put on a crisp suit and off you drive to the interview spot.
After arriving, you walk up to the receptionist smiling and give the reason for your presence and then wait until the time is right as you arrived 15 minutes early just in case.
A short time later, a young man walks up and introduces himself. He doesn’t look much older than you, but apparently it’s his spot you’re taking as he is being promoted up.
Having done your research, you casually mention the surrounding area and slide in that you passed his alma mater and loved the campus.
He looks slightly impressed and invites you into his office to speak about the position. He’s very much a stoic character, his smiles are very small and speaks in the same tone. Not monotonous just not many inflections, and he’s not grumpy, just extremely reserved.
Mr. Stoic talks about the position while you listen. You nod, smile at points, and have questions prepared for him which he handles and responds to.
Mr. S is difficult to read, you can’t tell if he likes you, which could be a deciding factor. You are pretty out-going, able to small talk and hold-up a conversation. Mr. S, although the same age, doesn’t appear to enjoy small talk, so you keep it at a minimum.
Fielding different questions about your background well, Mr. S wants to go to lunch now with one of the Senior Vice Presidents.
“This is great” you thought, “he’s trying to impress me, maybe I’ll get an offer by the end of the day since I’m out of state. How often do interviewees meet with the SVP?”
You both travel to the “fancy” restaurant where you meet the SVP. He’s an older man, mid-50’s with glasses, somewhat reserved as well although a little more capable with small-talk.
You’ve practiced your manners for business lunches and you make sure to follow the SVP’s lead on acts you are unsure of.
SVP smiles at you and asks simple questions: “Tell me about yourself,” “What do you like to do for fun?,” “What’s this website you’ve created?” Many different topics to open up.
You have some pre-rehearsed answers for some of these questions. For others, you talk about your passions and why you started a site, perhaps you talk a little more than you should as Salad is over and it’s time for the main course. Quickly, you think ahead for an ending point and stop there.
“Very Good,” SVP nods, as the main course is served.
Perhaps you should cut back on talking about your site/hobbies and get down to business.
“So, I’ve heard the Company has grown much during the recession, how have you felt about that?” you steer into business. SVP wipes his mouth and politely begins his take on the strength of the company and how well it has grown.
Mr. S doesn’t say much throughout the lunch, but pokes at his meat while nodding and listening.
You try to engage him by asking him direct questions, but he doesn’t give much push-back, this could be bad news. So you instead focus back on SVP and listen as he talks about management and how it’s different than other companies etc. etc.
You’re somewhat bored by this talk of company structure but make sure to keep your eyes and ears open and alert.
Further, you make sure to interject at specific times with questions to keep the conversation juiced and express your interest. It definitely seems you’re clicking well with SVP. Mr. S, maybe not so much….
Why? You were very polite, showed respect, but perhaps your outgoing attitude with SVP has turned him somewhat against you. Perhaps he feels threatened?
Lunch continues, you make sure to put a few appropriate jokes in there to show your personality and manage a laugh at SVP and a smile from Mr. S. After a delicious cheesecake dessert, SVP picks up the bill and you know you need to get him one on one to see where this should go next.
Together, you go to his office and begin chatting about the position. You ask how Mr. S succeeded in the position and how you can achieve those results and what it takes.
SVP flashes a short smile (they both do that) and explains what success means at that position.
You listen and respond smiling and with proper body language. Your last question is the card you’ve been holding waiting to play…
“What problems do you see with taking this the next step? Meaning, what worries do you have about me with this position?”
SVP ponders just for a second then calmly short smiles and responds “Nothing, I can’t think of anything. You’re an excellent candidate.” You wait for some sort of commitment but it never comes…
“Is there anything further?” SVP wonders.
Still smiling, but somewhat disappointed, you respond, “No, sir…” Then you thank him for everything, and re-iterate your interest in the position etc.
(Perhaps you should have outright asked for the position? You’re unsure…)
To make things more uncertain, SVP fits in “Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear anything after a week, we have a couple other interviews lined up, but we will let you know.”
You leave somewhat confused. “Why would he say that? I know I crushed it….” Suddenly, you find yourself Googling things like: “what does it mean when they say we have other interviews,” and you’re not sure what to think.
Everything went smoothly, except perhaps Mr. S didn’t seem that interested in you, but he looked like he wouldn’t be interested in a billion dollars if it fell down his boxers.
You chat with the recruiter, and she is all for you and “knows” you’d be a great fit. Of course, you send thank-you e-mails to both SVP and Mr.S thanking them for everything, and thank the Recruiter for her work (she may hold the golden ticket).
You Didn’t Get the Job
A week goes by, and nothing. You send a quick e-mail to Ms. Recruiter asking for an update, nicely of course. No answer.
You wait a couple more days and send a follow-up e-mail to the follow-up email. No answer.
Finally, you give her a call and leave a message. Things are looking awful. Your gut is telling you ‘you didn’t get it. They showed tons of interest but something went horribly wrong.’ On your optimism side you are thinking ‘They said they had to interview other people, and perhaps they are out of town. You crushed it, remember?’
Suddenly, you get a call, it’s Ms. R, “They said your interview was excellent and you have an awesome background with your success at your job and your website. Your initiative and passion are envious; unfortunately, (the word we all dread) we’ve decided to pursue another candidate. They felt your outgoing, entrepreneurial personality wouldn’t fit in well with the other members of the team. Thanks for coming down.”
Your gut was right (it usually is). Something went wrong, but what?
What could have Gone Wrong
Personality Clash: Sometimes your personality just doesn’t fit in. People told you afterwards you needed to mimic their behavior and be less outgoing so you could relate to them. Maybe that is a good strategy, but do you have to act that way everyday at the job? If you’re not yourself, you’re a fake, wouldn’t they regret it when they realize they hired a fake?
Someone Didn’t Like You: This could along with Personality clash but I’ll separate it. You could be a perfect candidate, and have the personality they want, but if they just don’t like you, there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s just how the world turns.
You Weren’t Passionate for the Right Things: Perhaps you talked too much about your site and seemed more excited about that then the actual job. It depends on how it came across, but this could have been a huge turn-off. Focus more on the job on hand and not side projects that they feel may take you away from your work with them.
If you made it this far, I’ll disclose that this all happened to me. See what I did. I was trying to make it hypothetical but it’s a little too detailed for that don’t you think? But it was a sweet opportunity that would have had great growth prospects, but it didn’t work out.
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