“But I’m qualified for that job – why did you reject me?”

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There’s an interesting discussion going on over at Evil HR Lady about whether it’s okay to ask for feedback when you don’t get a job, with a lot of people pointing out in the comments section that when they’ve agreed to give rejected candidates feedback, it inevitably ends with the candidate trying to convince them that the feedback is wrong and they should get the job. (I think it’s great when candidates ask for feedback, but that’s precisely the reason I’ll only give it via email and not over the phone; I don’t want to get trapped in that conversation.)

Anyway, it made me think about how often candidates are convinced that they are precisely right for the job and they become baffled when they don’t get an offer. Sometimes they even become aggressive and hostile, but that’s another post.

There are all kinds of reasons for why you might not be chosen for the job, no matter how qualified you think you are, including:

1. Your qualifications aren’t as strong as you think they are. Your assessment of your skills isn’t in line with the reality of the situation.

2. Your qualifications are very strong, but someone else’s are stronger. (It’s odd how often candidates shocked that they didn’t get the job overlook this possibility, which is one of the most common.)

3. You don’t have an accurate understanding of what the job is all about, and therefore your opinion of how well-matched you are is based on an erroneous foundation. This one is surprisingly common. For instance, I did a phone interview with a guy today who really did have an impressive business background and kept referencing examples from it — but the job he’s applying for wouldn’t make much use of those skills. He picked out a couple of smaller aspects of the job description and focused on those, missing the larger picture (which is that the job is way more clerical than he realized).

4. You’re well qualified, but you have some other characteristic that would cause you big problems here, such as an inability to listen without interrupting, or trouble answering questions clearly, or a hostility problem. I’m not going to knowingly put someone in a job that they’re likely to run into problems in — both for the manager’s sake and the candidate’s sake.

So don’t become shocked and irate if you don’t get a job you thought you were perfect for. After all, chances are good that the hiring manager knows better than you do about who will thrive in the position. That is a good thing, because you do not want a job that you will not excel in.

People do make hiring mistakes, of course, but in general, it makes sense to respect the opinion of the people who work there, who know the needs of the job intimately, and who know better than you whether or not you’re likely to be a good fit for this particular position with this particular boss in this particular culture in this particular company.

None of which is to say that you shouldn’t ask for feedback. Just be sure you’re asking out of a sincere desire to know, not to try to argue your case.

{ 81 comments… read them below }

  1. Lisa

    Super timing for me. I finished interviewing candidates this week and am just starting to think through my reasonings for not only the non-selects but to make a decision between the top two. This is very helpful. Thanks!

  2. HR Wench

    FIT is very important. If I think a department will eat a candidate alive because they appear too passive rather than assertive I just might go with another candidate.

  3. Just another HR lady...

    Don’t even get me started on aggressive or hostile candidates…I fail to understand a person’s thinking behind yelling at or telling off the person who rejected you for a job…you’re just re-affirming to them that their decision was correct..lol!!

    1. WOB

      Some people are desperate for a job and their being told, once again, that they didn’t measure up no doubt sends them on a tirade. No excuse, they are not smart in having done so, but things are real tough. It’s really not an “lol” situation.

      1. Svet

        both above have a form of truth in them… I wouldnt want a candidate who is hostile and/or aggressive, it proofs and re-affirm the hiring decision. Though I also, and honestly understand how people can be desperate for a job. Which is at times sad. Throughout my career there where instances where I felt shocked at how much people become “insane” and loose their ability to understand/reason what’s going on. I felt sorry for decision I took where the person was evidently “not good” or “not suitable” NOT because they where not hard working or not capable for the job, nothing on those lines, but they simply did not fit the rest of the team or the attitude they needed for the actual job. There are a million of reasons why one might not be selected and sadly they can vary from one’s image to even skill. Luck also plays its role by the pool of potential applicants. Its surely not a “lol” situation and I agree, at times its really, really, a sad situation more than anything. Thanks to both for your valuable feedback both to me make sense from a somewhat diverse perspective.

  4. Kris

    I agree with HR Wench. Fit is so important and all else being equal, sometimes one work style or personality type will fit better on a particular team than another. That is the kind of nuance that candidates can’t possibly know and need to take on faith that you know what you are talking about.

    I recently had a candidate (that I didn’t even interview, just didn’t think his experience as seen on his resume was a good fit) tell me that he didn’t mind the rejection because his next step was to “get at” our founder and our Managing Partner so that they could evaluate his credentials. I of course told him to go right ahead with that tactic knowing that both people would immediately send the resume to me for my evaluation without even looking at it.

  5. Anonymous

    I just finished interviewing for my “dream job”, and didn’t get an offer. I sent the hiring manager an email thanking him for his time and asking for feedback. I received a very thoughtful and supportive response in which he confirmed I was qualified, and commended me on my interviewing technique, but ultimately someone else was more qualified. His response has helped make this a more positive experience while leaving open the possiblility for future consideration.

  6. The Happy Employee

    The most frustrated candidates I met were those who regularly make it to the final interview round but never get the job.

    And the most annoying ones are those who can’t accept that we make decisions and that sometimes the non-negotiable decision is “no”.

  7. Anonymous

    ^ Agree completely with previous comment. What about times when you pass the final interview with flying colors, continue to get positive feedback, but are still left in limbo about the decision? What should I expect about my chances of winning the position when I’m really given no direction either way? That to me is ridiculously frustrating and awful. I suppose HR at these large companies doesn’t have the time to have sensitivity towards the needs of every individual candidate who applies. Nobody really cares! I guess that is the world we live in.

  8. Anonymous

    I am both an employee seeking to receive an offer of a dream position and an HR professional that has had to make the tough decision of hiring the right person. I would like to encourage those of you that are in a situation to fill a position not to confuse Authority with Duty. Just because your company has deligated the duty of filling a position does not mean that your decision is the right one. a little humility, as I see being Preached, may make you a better Interviewer.

  9. John

    Perhaps it might be better to give/receive the response by email. This removes all the emotion from the equation and feedback is feedback.

  10. Anonymous

    Most of you hiring idiots need to be on the other end of the table, out of work and looking for a job. Scarier is the fact that most of you morons don't even have a background of what the candidate is applying for, and then judge him/her on whether or not you think they are qualified.

    I've already had one employer who treated me with disrespect; lose business because I knew someone who is their large customer. I told this person of the treatment I received and he is doing business with this employer's largest rival.

    Something you employers had better understand: Watch the job seekers you crap on today, because it might cost you allot of money tomorrow.

  11. Anonymous

    Kris,

    Why would this candidate want to go around you and speak to the managing partner and founder? Have you thought that maybe you weren't "LISTENING" to the candidate when you should have been looking at his knowledge, skills and abilities?

    I hope you become unemployed soon if you aren't already and experience what job seekers are going through.

    1. Lizzie

      Have you considered that sometimes people, even job seekers, are delusional? I might have a dream job in mind but that doesn’t mean I am qualified for it. This person described also seems to have a problem with authority that wouldn’t translate well in many workplace environments. Who wants to hire someone that every time he disagrees with his supervisor immediately runs to the managing partner?

      I hope you get into a career in HR and have to deal with angry, upset, and often delusional candidates every day. We can’t hire every candidate. I get 100+ applicants sometimes for a one person opening. That’s tough. It’s not that I don’t want to help them all, but that I can’t!

      1. Anonymous

        As if you are really qualified to whine on behalf of the other HR egos out there. Give it a rest and keep your fingers crossed, for what goes around will come back around. You do know the definition of “karma” right? Or do you need a dictionary?

  12. Erik

    Greetings, I know this thread hasn't been touched in awhile, but I just wanted to get some feedback. I have been working in a Service Desk position for 4 years (with another 2 years experience at another location) and just recently, they decided to open up a Service Desk manager position. I met pretty much all of the qualifications, except education – 2yr degree instead of 4yr, but occasionally working on the 4yr when time allows.

    After they had reviewed all the resumes, I was not even offered an interview, just a heartfelt, "You are qualified for the position, but I don't think you would get the respect you deserve from your subordinates."

    I think this is a crappy way to treat someone who has provided 4+ years of service and instead will hire outside of the company, however, before I jump to conclusions, I wanted to see what you might think about this situation. Should I be contempt with working under someone who doesn't know the inter workings of the company or should I take this as a sign that I should move on? Thanks for your help.

  13. Egregius

    Erik: just my unprofessional guess, but could it be they were giving an honest and maybe even accurate assessment of the amount of authority you exude?

    Giving a company 4 years of service doesn't automatically equate to having the appropiate skills/abilities for the job, even if it *seems* unfair.

  14. Anonymous

    What should you do in the event that you don't get the job, but they offered a similar position that is freelance instead of being directly hired on. This is the third time with the same company I've encountered this situation.

    I first applied for one position, interviewed over the phone and they said someone more qualified had filled it. Then, they called me back, I flew to them, interviewed, went great, even interviewed with the girl who had filled the 1st position I applied for, and then was once again rejected via voicemail. But during the voicemail the HR Manager had mentioned a temporary freelance position that I would be a good fit for, and would allow me to get my foot in the door.

    I'm going to take the freelance offer, but I want to know what an appropriate way to ask why I wasn't the candidate for the 2nd position. feedback???

  15. NFB

    As a recruiter, this is a very helpful article because the bottom line is, as you point out, the hiring manager is the person who knows what is needed in the position, not the candidate. When I receive multiple calls, emails, etc. from a candidate before they’ve even been invited in for an interview, I consider them high maintenance already and therefore, even though they think they’re just showing interest, its too much and its offputting. So be cautious out there candidates…its all about balance and putting your best behavior forward.

    1. Someone

      Wow, really? When someone calls or emails you regarding a position after they have submitted a resume you think they are high maintenance? That’s a warped view. I think they are showing interest and are being responsible enough to show that they are genuinely interested and ambitious. They aren’t afraid to put in extra work to get out there and get what they want. Sometimes it can be over done, but it’s also part of the game. Would you rather hire that person who just emails or mails a resume and hopes for the best, i.e the lazy way? You have to remember that while you are sitting there still drawing a paycheck these folks may be on their last dime. I think you need to spend some time on the other end. Maybe you would be more appreciative of these people. Plus, in giving someone a chance you may create the best employee your company has ever known. I have no idea why many HR people will disqualify a candidate simply because they are showing interest. It’s like they are just looking for a reason. Sorry that these people cause such an inconvenience in your day that you might have to read or delete a few extra emails or trash a few more letters. I know that’s tough.

      1. Adam V

        It’s one thing to write in once and say “can I get an idea of when I could expect to hear back from you?” It’s quite another thing to get *multiple* phone calls or emails.

        As AAM says, phone calls must be attended to *then*, whereas emails can be attended to at the receiver’s convenience, so multiple phone calls are likely to rile up someone who you’re depending on to advance your candidacy.

        Likewise, gone are the days when not receiving a reply meant that the recipient didn’t get your email in the first place. If they don’t reply to an email, give them more time or move on to another opening, rather than spamming their mailbox with the same question multiple times with snippy “oh, you haven’t responded yet, obviously you didn’t receive my email because otherwise you would have dropped everything to answer it right away” additions.

        I understand that it’s hard out there right now – but saying “it’s okay to act desperate” is the wrong advice to job-seekers.

      2. KW88

        I think it depends on how they aproach the hiring manager. I recently set up a job ad and i got a phone call at 8.00am in the morning from a person asking when will they be getting an interview. I told them that they sent their resume at 11:30pm the night before and then called first thing the next morning. I recieved over 50+ resumes that night and at 8:00am in the morning I had not even looked at them all. Straight away this was “off putting” and I wiped her off my list as she was very demanding and pushy. (I did check her email and she was not qualified nor presented enough experience anyway). But as a HR professional these phone calls are annoying and time consuming, and not all of them are showing intrest; they are pushy and annoying

    2. horrible - always from the HR standpoint, never from the candidates perspective

      high maintenance eh? wow, typical HR mentality. Why don’t you sit on your throne and beckon for one of your minions ? Seriously, what is wrong with hoity toity HR people these days? No one knows how to treat ‘humans’ in a ‘humane’ way. Just because you peak someone’s interest and they are ambitious about hearing about a role, does not mean you discount them from your company/organization. This is classic discrimination!!!! Wow, when will HR learn how to properly approach individuals? The people who should have the most, but always have the least people skills, are those who work in HR – go back to sitting behind some partian where you never actually meet face to face people in public!

  16. Kevin Kocian

    We never had problems getting jobs in the United States until we started hiring Human Resource Managers who are not skilled in the position they are recruiting for in the first place. DO not get depressed just consider the fact that what comes around goes around!

  17. Anonymous

    “I consider them high maintenance already and therefore, even though they think they’re just showing interest, its too much and its offputting. ” It’s too bad you can not be exposed to your company as I’m sure they would have a different stance on this. This is why there is so much friction between employees and HR. I will remember that the next time an HR person calls the help desk because they can not login to their VPN. Sorry, this is the third time you have called in today, you are high maintenance. P.S. Remember, put your best behavior forward.

  18. Anonymous

    Recently I got an internal interview with my dream job. Although I had business relationship with that hiring manager for several years, very unfortunately I still have not been selected for the final interview. I sent couple of emails to follow up with my application, again recruitment managers always ignore my emails and that hiring manager also ignores my emails. No one is willing to provide the feedback to me. But, I still receive lots of business requests for doing extra things for that hiring manager. Maybe it just as they said all the skills are trainable but just the right person. But, how to be the right person? It could be regardless how hard you try, you will never be ‘that one’.

  19. Lizzie

    Look at it from another perspective.

    I have 15 openings I am working on right now. I have 30+ applicants for each position, some in the hundreds for certain positions. So at any given time, I have 500+ resumes from job seekers. Now, if every single one of these applicants tries to call multiple times to force their application to the top, it becomes so time consuming that I can’t get off the phone to even read the resumes! More less discuss the position with candidates that are actually qualified. Not to mention, the type of applicant who follows up obsessively is rarely qualified for the position to begin with.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      “Not to mention, the type of applicant who follows up obsessively is rarely qualified for the position to begin with.”

      This has been my experience too.

  20. Anonymous

    “Not to mention, the type of applicant who follows up obsessively is rarely qualified for the position to begin with.” I do not agree. For those people who has been shortlisted for interview do have rights to know the reasons. Within the job application stage, it is not necessary. As one person can easily apply for hundreds of jobs regardless they are fit or not(This especially addressed to previous post Lizzie).

    Have to mention, most of time qualified for the position does not necessary mean the right fit for the position. Think about this one, a highly Intelligent candidate has been interviewed by someone less smarter than her/him, the hiring manager may prefer someone is not qualified. I believe I made myself very clear.

  21. Anonymous

    You forgot to mention the biggest reason why you don’t get an offer even if you are the most qualified: RACISM. I can ensure you it exists

  22. Frank

    Welcome to the world of cyborgs – where human beings are expected to perform, function, and duty themselves 24/7 for the employer (though this is beyond realistic, even for the enslaved). I completely disagree with the HR d-nozzles who think their excrement smell like roses and that they are the great divider between production and lack of. WE are all human beings and YES we get disgruntled over you nozzles completely throwing our applications out the window because we don’t fit your (personal) stringent “requirements”. I’d rather see a machine interview me than a human being. I know for a fact this PC society are rejecting the best candidates for a multitude of positions available and only satisfying the job fix they create with these “requirements”.

  23. matt

    i recently interviewed for an entry level position at a company that i was more than qualified for. Its an annuity wholesale position which requires specific licenses. I already have those licenses and 2 years experience selling various financial products. I didn’t get the job and they told me it was because i didn’t know enough about annuities…..which is like telling a history professor that he can’t be a highschool teacher because he doesn’t know enough about history. I simply think that the interview board didn’t like me.

  24. Anonymous

    theres so much wrong with the interview process now days. Interviewers look for negatives in a person and focus onwhy they shouldn’t be hired instead of surveying what that person can bring to the table. It should be more of a “get to know you” scenario and less scrutiny of everything little thing you say.

  25. Neenah

    I recently had an interview for a inside sales position and was asked “what are my career goals”. I responded that “I want to finish school, write a children’s book in the short term. Open a restaurant in the short term. In the long term in about ten or 20 years maybe an elementary school principal” I then reiterated that I was not settled on the field of education because I feel I am strong in sales and customer service. “The very next question was do you have any questions for me”. I took this statement to mean that the interview was over and that I had blown my chances. What was wrong with my response?

    1. Jamie

      I would have considered the interview over at that point as well.

      1. Finishing school, restaurateur, author, sales and service. Four radically different fields of interest tells me you have no idea what you want to do and no career plan.

      2. Opening a restaurant, finishing school and writing a book (even a children’s book) are work intensive endeavors and considering them all short term goals would tell me you haven’t considered the details at all.

      3. Opening a restaurant alone is HUGE both in terms of commitment of capital and time. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t expect to work 70-80 hours weeks until viable – which stats show can take years. That it’s just one on a list would indicate to me that you’re giving me a bucket list of things you’d like to do and there’s been no real business analysis applied to any of it.

      4. People may go into sales for the money or the love of selling – but people go into education, culinary careers, and writing because they are following a passion. There may be exceptions – but most of the time people go into those professions for the love of the field. Why would they want you for a sales job if you’ve told them that short term you’re planning on doing three unrelated things. Turnover is expensive and employers would at least like the allusion that you’re going to be there a while.

      It reads like a lack of commitment and focus. Just tailor your answers to the job for which you’re applying.

      1. neenah

        I have many goals and I intend to meet them all. I do have a passion for teaching. I tend to mention this interest because I can be utilized in other areas besides sales and customer service. I have trained employees before and I mentor adults and children. I guess I was thinking ahead instead of trying to close the deal. I have my priorities in order and I don’t want to be stuck in a position where there are no opportunities for me to grow professionally. I am very good at what I do and I don’t work only for the money , I have to like what I do and like where I work or I will continue to seek other options. Thank you for the heads up. I know what to say next time

  26. Anonymous

    Yikes! I’m not trying to start a big argument here, but I think a opinionated rebuttal is due.

    I think this article is an extremely over generalized response. In fact, I would definitely argue that most HR people don’t have a clue who would be a fit for the job. That would definitely include headhunters as well, since they themselves are a form of Human Resources. I would also argue that HR has more turn over, at least as much as, than the other employees.

    The people who do know best (not surprisingly) are the people who actually work in that specific environment. Not the managers, not the supervisors, not anyone but the actual employees. This is a hiring practice that is just plain archaic. Who should interview and hire the candidates? The employees.

    While I do agree that people who apply won’t understand the full scope of the job, but I would bet on it that the HR person knows even less. After all, they base it on only second hand information, same as the applicant.

  27. Anon

    Interesting thread. I recently applied for a role, went through interviews and testing and was told my results were excellent. I was one of 2 candidates left and the other person apparently did not do well with the testing.

    I was then called in for a final interview which was unexpected as they advised the process would be an offer to the successful candidate post testing. This time the Manager whom I would report to was not present and I met with the GM (prior interview) plus the CFO. During this meeting I was asked questions about my children, how I would cope in the mornings and was asked how old they were. I have a 16week old baby and a 4 year old. Sounds terrible from an employers perspective and where I’m from, these are highly inappropriate questions which potentially leave me wide open to discrimination, hence they are not actually allowed to ask. Ha, but how do you not answer and come across well?

    The GM commented towards the end that he really just wanted to get me back to reconfirm his thoughts from my previous interview. Confusing.

    I completely tick all the boxes, which even they said right up to the point where they found out about my kids. How do I politely ask for feedback and trust that it’s genuine and not based on the fact I’m a full time working mum which put them off? Do I even bother?

    Thanks!

  28. Joshua Newman

    I’d like to add that candidate selection is an imperfect science subject to a certain amount of bias. To give you an example:

    I recently interviewed for a position at a hospital. The medical director extensively quizzed me about my family life and marital status. After I explained that I am not married – I am a 26 year old male – he asked, “But you want to get married?” He was shaking his head up and down as if to push me towards an affirmative response. He followed with a speech on the value of taking the advice of one’s elders.

    The medical director was showing a preference for a paternalistic married man. While I am uncertain as to how much negative weight my unmarried status was given, I am certain that I would be viewed less positively when compared to a married candidate.

    In some cases, “highly qualified applicant” may translate to “highly likeable candidate”.

    On the bright side, HR was especially nice about giving me the bad news. In the past, most HR reps have delivered the news quickly and without much empathy. My experience with this last HR rep was a in wonderful opposition to the norm. I appreciated it.

    To all the HR people reading this blog: how you deliver bad news matters.

    -Joshua

  29. Neenah

    Since the last time I’ve posted here, I’ve had three interviews and applied for over 60 positions. I was not chosen for any position. In one interview, I had the interviewers laughing at “tell me about a time you handled a difficult customer” and the interview went well but…The other interview was a marketing job that was advertised as customer service. I was not interested in this position at all. I was even turned down for driving a shuttle bus position because I’ve never driven one but, I have driven a moving truck plenty of times. I’m wondering if I should just tell a lie about everything. The truth is not getting me hired anywhere. I am a educator who has not graduated college yet. Should I leave this off my resume? I can do many things but it seems that employers are finding that one missing thing and excluding me. I really think it’s because I’m an education major and employers may be considering me unteachable or a know it all. This is far from the truth. I enjoy learning and new experiences. If I can’t get a $9.00 an hour job with a bachelors degree…what am I doing wrong?

    1. Joshua

      Neenah:

      As a fellow frustrated applicant, I’m no stranger to feeling like fabricating myself into a duplicate copy of the job description I am applying for – no more, no less.

      But to answer your reciprocal question, I don’t think you are doing anything wrong. I think the job market just happens to be horrific.

      It’s simple math:
      1 job opening
      40 applicants
      15 highly qualified applicants.

      Who really knows why highly qualified candidate #3/15 failed to get the position? Maybe the interviewer (we will call him Sean Connery) had heartburn after meeting candidate #3 (let’s call her Lucy Lawless). When the time came for Sean to decide, he recalled a mild feeling of discomfort when thinking about Lucy. He didn’t, however, associate the discomfort with his heartburn. No, he associated the discomfort (subconsciously and quite accidentally) with Lucy. Wham! Rejection.

      And this is no joke. Research by psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky shows how illogical human decision making can be. Not to say human decision making doesn’t work out. With 14/15 highly qualified candidates left how can you go wrong?

      So, I suppose I am trying to say that you are playing a random numbers game. If you keep applying to positions for which you are reasonably qualified, you will eventually get one. Given the economy, its probably going to take awhile and you should expect it. I know that doesn’t completely take away the sting of getting rejected over and over, but I hope it helps a little.

      All the best,

      Joshua (fellow qualified but unemployed applicant)

      1. Anonymous

        So, let me get this right. Someone is not going to be able to get a job, pay their bills, send their kid to college or upgrade their 10 year car because they can’t afford to, why because some guy associated heart burn with some candidate? Is that what you want us to believe?

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          You are not entitled to any specific job. If an interviewer doesn’t like you, he/she probably won’t hire you. You need to learn how to job search in such a way that you’re not dependent on one particular interviewer’s feelings.

          Dude, your comments on this post in the last hour have been extremely bitter. It’s almost certainly coming across in your job search, and that will not help you.

        2. Joshua

          A late reply:

          I’m saying that dwelling on why you didn’t get the job when so many qualified candidates are lined up outside the door isn’t going to help. It’s random – if you’re qualified and you interviewed reasonably well and so did most of your competition – who knows what slight detail gave your competitor the edge. Maybe your competitor is a super friendly optimist? Maybe your interviewer isn’t a morning person, and you got the morning interview? Who knows.

          It’s not fair at all. I think you should be able to pay your bills. I think you should be able to help provide your kids a great future.

          I finally got a job and will be spending the next 4 years digging myself out of debt instead of building equity in a house. Not fair, but the world just isn’t. And that really sucks.

          Hope you have better luck soon. I know how hard it is not to get angry.

          Best,

          Joshua

  30. steven

    I just loss out on a job at work to someone that’s been with the company for less than two years. I have been with this company for almost five years and know alot more than this other person. I heard on the floor that someone in the front office asked him to put his resume in for the job, well after weeks and two interviews he got the job. The people up front in the offices have been know as the good ol boys club. They always seem to know who will get what job and make there decisions before hand. Very upset and looking for a new job.

    1. Anonymous

      I have to say, this good ol’ boy’s club is now called and should be named the good ol’ girl’s club. More an more women are in upper management rolls and owning companies. They are hiring and (taking care of their own) Men also hire women now because they are obligated to under mandates regarding “fairness” but it’s a disguise called affirmative action. If your a woman, black, or other ‘protected classl’ you stand a better chance now than a middle age – white man in many cases of getting hired.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Are you joking? Women and African Americans are still vastly underrepresented in management and on boards — look at the statistics. I understand you’re having a tough time, but don’t turn it into sexism or racism.

        1. Anonymous

          I for one don’t have to look at out dated statistics. All I have to do is look around at commercials. How many blacks and women are in commercials? Those are paying jobs. How many people working or going to ammusement parks or professional sports arenas who work there? A lot!

          Ever notice how many gov. congress or mayors or chief of police or fire fighters are women?

          Talk about stats, 54% of all college students attending law school are women. More males are dropping out of school than girls. In this recent economic disaster, more men have been layed off than women. How many women’s reentry programs are there? How many support groups are there for women? How many for men?

          Stats in this case show woman have the upper hand, as more CEO’s like the one just hired at Yahoo and the one who ran for Gov. of Ca who was a CEO of Ebay and the list goes on.

          Give me a break.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Wow. This is pure delusion. I suggest you look up actual numbers because this is plain wrong. Women are vastly under represented in all the fields you mention except for law school. (And I love that you’re citing a handful of high profile cases as if they’re the norm — they’re high profile specifically because they’re the exception. You’re being blinded by your own anger.)

            And with that, I’m putting your comments on moderation because we don’t do racism and sexism here. This kind of crap is not welcome.

  31. Anonymous

    Im going back to grad school and im looking for a few hours of work. I applied for a per diem job working at a company i used to work for doing the same thing i used to do. I did not leave on bad terms and have been working in that field for several years and it wasnt just one position, there are multiple openings around this large city and no call or anything. Just really frustrated because im super qualified and they post 2 or 3 job ads every week and nothing. This economy sucks.

  32. Anonymous

    Finally, a site to say something to someone which might make a difference. My husband is an Aerospace Supervisor with 30 years experience but no degree, He is good at what he does, but unemployed due to defense cutbacks and companies leaving California faster than the speed of light. Isn’t it interesting HR people actually have “human” in their titles and yet they don’t seem to have that characteristic. I agree with the person on this site who said you all are looking for what is wrong with the person rather than what is right. After a 4 1/2 month process of interviewing for a dream job with a major aerospace position, 20 hours of interviews, with 15 people, all who agreed he was the “right” person for the job, background checks he passed with flying colors, references who sang high praises and weeks of jumping through hoops rewriting letters, power point presentations and resumes, the CEO looked at him and in 15 minutes rejected him. Not even for a better candidate….TO KEEP LOOKING!.. How does anyone accept that? Maybe it as because he is 52. Maybe his suit should have had an Armani label in it…after all it was for a Production Supervisor Position. You people don’t want a qualified person…you want whatever the candidate doesn’t possess. Most places don’t even have the common courtesy to thank a person for applying, let alone a rejection letter. This is why so many people have given up the job hunt. You all are working and you can take as long as you want…if the applicants lose their house or can’t feed their kids, it’s nothing personal, IT’S JUST BUSINESS. I am ashamed of what our country has become. I know some people are not like this…the recruiting team really wanted my husband, but I am the angry wife because I have watched my husband who is at his workplace an hour before his shift starts, stays until his job is done and has the best work ethics you will ever find, practically begging for a job and be so demoralized by unhuman HUMAN resources people and CEO’s who discriminate because of age or look for something wrong with someone who is a 100% a company man whose career is probably over. But he will continue to write thank you letters to people who reject him and try to find out what imaginary reason they have to reject him other than to hire some kid with a college degree. Thank you for letting me get that out of my system.

      1. Anonymous

        Fair enough and I don’t write letters to people using that tense or anger…and I know none of the people who see the letter I wrote had anything to do with his situation, but it IS frustrating to think people can judge you in 15 minutes after a person has paid a team to interview and look into someone as carefully as this was done. It is a very different atmosphere in the job market…it used to b e in this country if you worked hard, were good at what you did, were reliable and loyal, you never had to worry about a position with a good company, The atmosphere has changed, While people supposedly cannot be discriminated against because of color, age, or sex, as long as they are “qualified”, you can be the best at the business and everything you say, write, wear, etc, can disqualify y6u from a job and there is absolutely nothing y6u can do to prove it because all companies have to say is “we found someone who fits in better”, or “we are looking for someone who is much more educated”. How would the Human Resources personnel know from reading a one or a two page resume? It is considerably frustrating for the employed who want to better themselves or the unemployed who just want to feed their families. The expectations in the job industry these days are for these perfect people in every way. Most recruiters reviewing my husband’s resumes have to ask him to spell what he is proficient in, because they have never done the work themselves. I just don’t understand how anyone is supposed to stay optimistic or hopeful in this environment. If anyone has any suggestions, I would love to have a respoonse.

        1. Anonymous

          I agree. The expectations in this day and age seems out of line with what exists. I can’t even find a job that I can get an interview. I have applied for 350 plus jobs. Even jobs that say training provided. I have a lot of experience, I hear people say, the older generation can teach the younger generation how to better do their jobs. I hear these talking heads on news programs (filling a time slot) talking about how companies should be hiring older people because they are reliable, responsible and mature, qualities that don’t seem to exist much in the younger generation.

          If things keep going the eay they have been the last 4 years, my kids will get a job before me and then that will be the last straw!

  33. Frustrated Job Seeker

    I resigned from my job almost two months’ ago (You ask, how could I do this in this economy???). I found after 10 months that it was not the “dream job” I had envisioned and opted to leave instead of being miserable. Colleagues and friends assured me that I would be scooped up in no time and I felt the same way given my extensive qualifications in my chosen field (I also hold a Bachelor’s in the same field). I have had numerous interviews, both phone and in person, but nothing has resulted in an offer or even a second interview. I began this journey with a very positive and optimistic outlook but am now becoming frustrated and disillusioned. I have had my resume’ critiqued by a staffing pro and have implemented her suggestions but still nothing. I’ve taken to questioning the “canned” rejection notices received to obtain specific feedback but rarely receive a response. One thing that frustrates me the most is a lack of a responses from employers that I took the time to interview with. I find this rude and professionally offensive. As a manager, I made it a point to personally respond to anyone that I interviewed but it appears that this simple courtesy has been lost in the flurry of emails and online job submissions. Did I jinx myself by resigning without a job lined up? I’m starting to think so. I don’t know what else to do.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      It’s definitely rude that companies don’t respond to job applicants, particularly those that they interviewed. It’s also really, really common, unfortunately. It’s better for your quality of life to realize that that’s the case and not get too bothered by it, because it’s so widespread.

      I know it’s too late now, but yes, you probably did make things harder for yourself by leaving a job before you had another one lined up, especially in this economy. It’s a tough situation to be in.

      But there’s a ton of advice on this site about how to improve your resume and cover letter and how to do better in interviews — you might browse the archives and look at my (free) guide to preparing for an interview and see if any of that helps. There’s also guidance on how to ask for post-rejection feedback in a way that will maximize your chances of getting it (although there’s never any guarantee that you will). I hope that helps!

  34. Anonymous

    I recently applied for a job for which I know I am qualified for, and everything down the line from the company’s mission statement to drivers of success to primary responsibilities. I fit the job 100% and I know from other jobs similar to this one that there are people in those positions who are young, who don’t even do their job well, yet they have jobs.

    It’s hard for me to understand from a 30 sec glimpse at a resume whether they know someone will interrupt you or has anger problems. All I see are a lot of excuses not to hire people and all I hear on the news is there are people looking for work who want to work but aren’t being hired.

    I’ve applied for a lot of jobs in the last 4 years and am tired of not even a courtesy email to say thank you for your interest. Yes, I’ve gotten those too but again, for a job I was qualified for.

    Hell!… I’m not even given the time of day for a job that says, training provided. Yet, they say we don’t discriminate. Yes, I’m a white man and 45, married with two teen kids who has on his resume that he has worked for himself for the past 12 years with a couple other intermitant jobs listed.

    The other thing I’ve noticed is that people say, we have to turn our economy around, we have to get people to spend money. Well, guess what? You can’t spend what you don’t have. As the debt keeps rolling nationally, and for everyday people, at some point, the scales are going to tip and not in good way.

    On one more note: I have noticed that most every company now requires you to apply online. Ever try to fill out an online application, fill out all the boxes when your a self employed person who wants to work in the capacity of a traditional job. There are no supervisors to contact, there is no salary to say how much you made an hour, there is no reason you left or usually a drop down menu that asks you questions that you can’t answer because your answer isen’t listed.

    VERY Frustrating.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      “It’s hard for me to understand from a 30 sec glimpse at a resume whether they know someone will interrupt you or has anger problems.”

      Those were references to problems that would come out in an interview, not a resume.

      In this job market, it’s not enough just to be qualified. There are a ton of qualified candidates applying for each opening. You have to go above and beyond — which you do by writing a fantastic cover letter, showing a track record of achievement in your resume, and all the other things we talk about on this site.

  35. Daniel Carroll

    Well, I have been searching for a career change at first. I have worked at a food manufacturing facility which operates at times 7 days a week. In Aug 2010 I enrolled into college full time while working full time as a Quality Control Tech. I have finished my degree (just waiting for the semester to end in Aug 2012) and will graduate with a 3.0 GPA and finally have a B.S.B.M-HR Management degree. Initially, I started applying to HR jobs, starting from the bottom and slowly working up to more progressive roles (HR assistant, Coordinator, Associate Generalist, Generalist, Generalist II) 6 months before graduation. I did this, because all the experts on Forbes and Times say to! I didn’t receive hardly any feedback/contact from companies I applied for. Literally 2 interviews in a 6 month time. So I started to apply for positions that falls under my direct experience (4.5 years of Quality Control experience in a food manufacturing environment) 2 weeks ago. Basically, applying for Quality leadership roles (Supervisor/Team Leads). I have had more phone calls back in the last 2 weeks than I had with my major in college. I am not mad one bit though. QC supervisor positions are paying $20k – $30k more than entry level HR jobs, and food quality is my specialty. I just thought this was kinda funny. The only reason I wanted to write is to give kudos to the “manager” of this blog… I got a kick out of your replies to the posts from the “anonymous” posters. You seem very intelligent, and very witty. I like you!

  36. Jill

    I posted that I was looking for a job in a LinkedIn group and was approached by a woman who was looking to fill a position – I sent her my resume, she called me and we set up an interview. During the interview she did most of the talking and I did my best to get in my experience and the reason why I thought I would be an asset to the company etc. She ended the interview saying she wanted me to have a second one and that she was excited to tell her co-workers she found a “hot prospect”. Three days later I emailed her to check in like she said and she told me that she loved my enthisuiasm and would be in touch and the next day I got a rejection letter. I emailed her to get some feedback and she told me I didn’t have enough experience.

    My questions:
    1. Do I let it go? (Should I have fought harder to interject more of my experience into the conversation?)
    2. Do I send her a final thank you with some sort of mild final attempt to show her my experience?

    I just feel like I kind of got screwed along the way.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Yes, let it go. You don’t really have a choice about that — they’ve made their decision.

      You could certainly send her a final thank you, although you shouldn’t use it to try to show her your experience; again, she’s already made her decision.

      I don’t think you were screwed here — they interviewed you, she liked you, but ultimately she decided the fit wasn’t quite right. This is a normal part of job-searching.

    2. Anonymous

      Thats awful… I had an interview for a new store and they knew who I was as they had worked with me before, so they knew my work experience and my personality so I met them casually for a coffee. They were delighted to see me and they spent 30mins talking about how they were and how they got the manager position, they even said this wasnt a formal interview right now but just a quick intro.

      That same night an email of rejection… even tho I had no interview questions, I was so stunned I couldnt even reply or ask why. Its horrid how some managers fail to see the actual feelings of a person and again like my larger post treat us as tho we are expendable.

      I’m unsure if it is worth your effort saying anything, I know inside part of you wishes to say “Why?? bit of a false lead?? why did you say this and that” but ultimately they made up their mind and they did it in a wrong way but their mind wont change regardless so it’ll be a waste of time so take a deep breathe and move forward.

      1. Jill

        Yeah it was really hard to get over because for the first time in a while I found the “perfect” job for me. Obviously she did not feel the same way. Update: she ended up re posting the job multiple times and I sent her an email offering to work on a trial basis (thinking no risk for her etc.) and never heard back. I came to terms with it because I feel like poor manners during the hiring process might equal problems if I actually worked there. Hope she found what she was looking for.

        1. Anonymous

          I find that disgusting for someone in her level to treat you that way, and to say all she did, giving you false hope. Also giving you a petty excuse such as experience. She would of read your cv and knew your experience from the start so that is probably another reason you feel a little unsettled. I would be to.

          But put it this way – if she acts like this you probably wouldn’t want to work for her knowing that. Experience is something learned and it is a damn shame that a lot of employers aren’t willing to give that bit of training to end up with a dream person instead they wait months on end for someone to just pop up while during that time they could of easily of allowed you to train and be up to tip top!

            1. Jill

              Yeah and I understand that is part of the process but do hiring managers tell you that they plan on moving you along regardless if that’s the truth? Sort of along the lines of “it’s not you it’s me” or “we should do it again sometime” at the end of a terrible date? I just feel like I am constantly hearing positive things at the end of interviews about moving forward in the process and then nothing…

                1. Anonymous

                  Yes but I think its unprofessional in terms of this case that they filled the candidate with false hope, saying she was a hot ticket and outstanding. To get a slam in the face, they should refrain from any feedback until they actually make up their mind, its just professional and polite. Its like telling someone your going to almost 100% win the lottery but nah your not.

                  Sure she decided they were not right but again refrain from the upbeat almost “your hired!” attitude. Its not right.

  37. Anonymous

    Okay some things I find confusing is when a an advertisement says what they require, and you fit the bill perfectly. Then few days later rejection. You could think oh they found someone better, but when months go by and they are still advertising, that is just misleading. It is fine to be fussy with who you wish to employ but if you have an ad listing the requirements and don’t even let people pass to an interview stage you will never find someone.

    Also its frustrating because a lot of big brands use these resourcing people to help pick out great candidates to put forward to an interview but again they often are extra fussy and don’t give you even an interview chance even tho you have the requirements.

    I went to an interview recently it was okay I did my best and answered every question, I didn’t feel 100% as though the manager thought I was amazing, which during an interview can be off putting if they express that mid-way. Still you try, and what is worse is inside you know how hard you work and how much you do at all your past jobs but it really frustrates me that within 20mins of silly routine questions your judged, no one can know someone so quickly and I really wanted feedback but with them after 2 weeks not even sending a message of rejection even I felt why bother…As it is unprofessional when we make the effort of attending an interview and you cant even be bothered to email.

    I understand managers have a criteria but advertise actually what you are looking for, and maybe put yourself in the candidates shoes sometimes, because I would love to attend an interview where I felt equal and that I may actually be needed, rather than feeling like dirt of your shoe and feeling like I need to suck up to you. That is all it ends up being – treated like an expendable number for those 20mins – maybe if I was treated equal we may express ourselves better and relax. If I was interviewing I would like to see someones natural self so I have an idea of who I would be working with rather than the programmed robot answering those routine questions.

    Just an opinion.

    1. Jamie

      I think it’s important to go into an interview with the mindset that you are interviewing them as much as they are you – and that you are on equal footing in that regard.

      Yes, the power dynamic is such that they get to decide if they will offer you a job – but you also get to decide if you will take it.

      No one can make you feel like dirt or that you need to suck up if you go in with the mind-set that you are a professional with value to offer and you’re just there to see if this would be a good fit on both sides.

      1. Anonymous

        Thanks Jamie – I shall go in with a stronger mindset in future :) if they let me in the door haha.

  38. WOB

    Really is disturbing to see so man sanctimonious, mocking and outright hostile comments being made by those who claim to be in the hiring business. Yes, I know that some applicants are not the brightest bulb … that some are desperate and scared, acting accordingly when rejected for yet another position … that some say the most odd and outrageous things, but they are ALL human beings who deserve understanding and respect. That some of you in here are so condescending is disheartening.

  39. A Very Qualified One

    I Have To Say This: The Reason Why The Qualified Ones Are Not Getting Hired These Days Is Because Many Of These Businesses Don’t Want To Pay That Much Money. Therefore, They Don’t Hire The Qualified Ones Cause They Know That They Won’t Stay With Them While Making That Little Money These Days. It’s All About These Businesses Robbing People. Example: One That’s Very Qualified, And Did Great In College, Can’t Get A Job These Days. Also, A Manager Told Me That I Need To Down Load My Resume Cause They Will Not Hire Someone That Use To Make $20.50/hour.

  40. Anonymous

    I’ve gone through a process which started in May and finished lastweek. The company in question were hiring and I went through the standard telephone interview. I passed this, then I had to speak to 4 managers around the world including my potential boss. I passed this round too. It boiled down to the final stage, it was between me and someone else. Unfortunately I didn’t get the role.

    Around a month later I get a call saying how you previously interviewed with us, would you like the opportunity to go to the next round. I obviously did, so I met the FD of the division which I’d be working in. I passed this stage, then I finally met the rest of the directors of the firm.

    Now, I’ve just been told that they think I wouldn’t be a good fit for the company…

    Through going through this whole process, how did it get to this stage for then me to be told that I wasn’t a good fit.

    Is this a HR problem or are other forces at work?

  41. Josh

    Ahahaha yes, an HR interviewer knows that a position as a Thermal Engineering reseacher is not a good fit for a PhD in Mechanical Engineering with a thermo specialty……because they know better….

    It is so laughable what HR people will tell themselves to hide the fact that they are awful at spotting the right people for the job.

  42. jane

    I think as a person in charge of hiring you need to get off your power trips of assuming that you are the ultimate authority on other people’s suitability. You have been tasked to fill a role but you can’t let that go to your head. The number one mistake hiring managers make is looking down on candidates- consciously and subconsciously.

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