Interviewing Tips

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Leadership #IfIOnlyKnew

2018

After Three Interviews, Don't I Deserve To Know Why I Wasn't Hired?

Liz Ryan , CONTRIBUTOR Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Dear Liz,

I just got a "No thank you" email message from an employer.

The email took me by surprise. I had a call set up this coming Friday with the hiring manager.

I've interviewed three times for a Safety Tech job. In our call this Friday we were supposed to talk about the specifics of the job offer.

My hiring manager is the Director of Facilities. On my second interview he told me I have the perfect qualifications for the job.

Until I got the "no thanks" email message, I was excited. Now I feel insulted. After three interviews, don't I deserve more than an email brush-off?

Don't I deserve to know why they hired (or are going to hire) someone else?

What do you think?

Thanks Liz -

Yours,

Mason

 

Dear Mason,

The "no thanks" message could be a mistake. That kind of thing happens all the time.

I would call the Director of Facilities and leave him a pleasant voice mail message wishing him a happy new year. In your message, ask him "Is this Friday, January 5th, at two p.m. still a good time for us to chat by phone?"

If he doesn't call you back, if somebody from HR emails you instead to say "Sorry Mason -- we hired someone else" or if you learn in some other way that they're not going to hire you, then you can wrap this movie and move on with your life.

If they interviewed you three times, set up a telephone call to talk about job offer details and then disposed of you with an email blow-off, you are better off without them.

You dodged a bullet. You would have hated the job even more than you hate the disappointment you are feeling right now.

The disappointment will pass. If those people would treat you that badly, they don't deserve your talents. Sometimes Mother Nature's lessons are painful, but it's those painful lessons that stick with us!

Without a jolt of pain to shock us awake, how would we learn the important life skills we need to know?

In any situation where you are left feeling hurt, disappointed, frustrated or angry, your job is to get the learning out of it. You can't just lick your wounds and call somebody else evil. You have to get the learning, so you don't repeat the pattern again.

This is your career. Your career is a business, like any business.

You are just as much a business owner as the people who own the company you've been interviewing with. If you want to be taken seriously, you must see yourself as a business owner, every bit as solid and substantial as executives for the biggest company on earth.

Take responsibility for your piece of the puzzle. That's the only way to turn this painful episode into a muscle-building activity.

You went to every interview voluntarily. No one forced you to stay in the recruiting process. Every time you went to another job interview, you were aware that you could give away a tremendous amount of free consulting.

That is one reason some managers interview candidates, in fact -- to get free consulting.

The vast majority of knowledge-worker job-seekers give away too much on the interview. They do it because they want to impress the interviewer and because it's fun to problem-solve in real time. Then they don't get hired, and they feel used.

We can all sympathize with anyone who feels used or mistreated. Still, we know that we only stopped being used and mistreated when we notice the degree to which we have allowed ourselves to be used.

Once we get over the pain, we can process the lesson. We can see that our indignation is misplaced because we can only be mistreated as a job-seeker with our consent.

We teach people how to treat us.

On to the question "Don't I deserve to know why they didn't hire me?"

No, you don't.

The reason a manager hires one knowledge worker over another is not clear-cut or concrete. There are a million factors and interdependent elements. There may be several people participating in the hiring decision. There may be spirited debate over which candidate to hire.

There are specific stories and perspectives that tilt a hiring manager's or team's opinion away from one candidate and toward another. That isn't a judgment about any candidate's abilities.

People are not collections of bullet points and credentials. We all see the world in different and complex ways. It's not reasonable to expect a hiring manager to lay out for you exactly why somebody else got the job and you didn't, no matter how many interviews you attended.

If you were dropped from the pipeline by way of a two-sentence email message, the people who ran that hiring process are not qualified for their roles.

However, they don't owe you details about why they dropped you from the list, beyond "Mason, I've been thinking about the coming year and in the end, I don't think it's a great match between us.  I appreciate your time and energy coming to see us three times. I'm very impressed with you and hope our paths cross again."

You are entitled to that statement delivered into your ear by phone from the lips of your hiring manager (not an HR person or admin stepping in to save him from having to be human).

If the Facilities Director can't rise to that small challenge, how well can we expect him to weather the storms in 2018?

Better to be shoved off a little cliff now than shoved off a huge cliff later.

Your game plan has two parts:

1) Figure out whether the "no thanks" message was legitimate or a clerical mistake. Reserve judgment until you know.

2) If they are truly done with you, move on and leave them in your rear view mirror. You don't have time to be angry or upset with anyone. People who show up as toads and weasels on our way turn out to be our greatest teachers.

You have an incredible path to follow. There's no room on your path for energy-sucking wimapzoids. You have places to go, and no time to waste!

All the best,

Liz

Liz Ryan is CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap. Follow her onTwitter and read Forbes columns. Liz's book Reinvention Roadmap is here.