I’ve had 10 interviews and no offers — am I the problem?

A reader writes:

I was laid off in July and have been looking for a job since then. To date, I’ve had six interviews (two more pending) but no offers. If you count the interviews I had before I got laid off, the total number is 10.

How many failed interviews is a sign that I am the problem? I understand it’s a tight job market and there are loads of qualified applicants applying to each opening, but isn’t 10 interviews a bit much? I’m getting very discouraged and embarrassed. And if I am the problem, how can I figure out what I’m doing wrong?

Ugh, this is a tough spot to be in, where you’re starting to question if the problem is you. And even tougher, I can’t really give you an answer from here. It’s possible that you’re the problem (or that your interview skills or references are the problem). But it’s at least equally likely that it’s just the crappy job market. There are a lot of great candidates out there interviewing, and so you can be good at what you do and still get rejected — multiple times — because someone else just ended up being better. (Or a better fit for that particular manager/team/culture, totally aside from skills.)

And after all, if you assume that employers interview four or five candidates in-person for each job opening, then that means that you have an 75-80% chance of getting rejected for any job you interview for.

That said, I can see why 10 interviews with no offers is starting to feel like a lot, and it’s sensible that you’re looking at whether there’s something you should do differently. My advice is this:

* Read the hell out of my (free) guide on how to prepare for an interview. Are you doing everything in there? And I mean all of it? That stuff makes a big difference. If you’re not doing all of it, start and see if that changes anything.

* Have you tried asking for feedback from an interviewer? Pick one who you had a particular rapport with and reach out to them with an email. Say something like this: “I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me about the X job. I want to ask you a favor: I’m extremely interested in moving into a position like X, and I would be so grateful for your feedback about how I can better position myself to do that. Is there anything in the way that I interview that you think might be holding me back? Are there weaknesses that I can tackle, or anything else that you think might help me pursue a similar position in the future? Please understand that I’m not in any way taking issue with your decision, but rather asking for help. I’d really appreciate any advice you can share with me.”

Some employers won’t give feedback no matter how nicely you ask for it, but framing it like this — a humble and genuine request for insight — significantly increases your chances of getting it (as opposed to a more perfunctory “I would appreciate any feedback you can give me” email, which is easier to brush off).

* Think about who else you might be able to get candid feedback from. Do you have a brutally honest friend (or even better, former coworker) who knows you well enough to tell you if there’s anything in your approach that might be holding you back? Do you know anyone who does hiring who’d be willing to do a mock interview with you and give you blunt feedback afterwards?

* Make sure there’s nothing in your references that could be causing problems. Unless you’re 100% sure that your references aren’t the issue, one option is to have a friend with a highly professional demeanor check your references for you. If you find any problems there, here’s some advice on how to try to mitigate that.

But it also really might just be the job market. It’s taking lots of good candidates a long time to find a job in this market — even up to a year or more. So look at the stuff above as things that are all worth doing regardless … because they’ll make you a better candidate either way. Good luck.

{ 101 comments… read them below }

  1. Dang*

    I feel your pain, OP! I’ve been out of work since June and everyone tries to tell me how great it is that I get roughly 2 interviews per month, but getting rejected or never hearing back from all of them honestly feels worse than not hearing at all sometimes. Good luck to you in your search- try to stay positive and keep in the game as much as you can. Something will come through for you.

    Thanks for the advice, AAM. This is helpful.

    1. Dang*

      Oh, I should add that the two that were most promising and seemed like I would get offers were filled with people with 15+ years experience, whereas I have about 5 (and the jobs really only required a few). So that makes me feel better (tough job market explanation) and worse (will I ever get a job??) at the same time.

      1. OP*

        Yeah, I got really excited about one position and was devastated to learn I didn’t get it. I looked up the person they hired and discovered she had 10 years more experience and had worked there before. I felt better, and worse, at the same time.

    2. Stephanie*

      Yeah, I could have written this as well. I’ve been out of work since April and feel the same way. I think I’ve gotten nine or ten myself, at some fairly prestigious places. And I’ve gotten none of them. Heh.

      I’ve begun to not even tell people when I have interviews, just because of pestering like “Did you hear back from X?!”

      I would try to get feedback if you can (a lot of places are wary of lawsuits) and honestly assess your interviewing skills or even just your general communication skills. A friend of mine mentioned that I’m very talkative and to watch that during interviews.

      Good luck!

      1. AB*

        Oh, that’s good advice from your friend, if it’s true that you are very talkative. I’ve eliminated people from my pool of candidates during a phone interview for this very reason! I struggle myself with a balance between being too talkative and too concise in my responses during interviews, but talking too much can create the wrong impression, so good for you that you were able to get that feedback and work on that.

        1. Stephanie*

          I realized that I was talking a lot, but my answers weren’t focused. I also realized that that added sentence or two would usually hurt me–I’d end up qualifying an answer, selling myself short, or going into way too much detail (explaining why I left my last job, usually).

          I’ve just learned to err on the side of brevity and allow the interviewer to ask follow-up questions if she needs clarification.

    3. BCW*

      Yeah me too. I haven’t been out of work, but I’ve been looking for a while. The worst thing is, things seem promising. I make it past the first interview the majority of the time, and then after the 2nd or 3rd then they go with someone else. Its so frustrating because its just like, you knew from my phone interview and first interview how I was, so what changed? I mean, logically I know that a better fit (whether experience or cultural) came along, but its just annoying that you get that far only to be cut.

  2. Adam*

    Take heart. The fact that you are self-aware enough to consider the possibility that you might be doing something wrong indicates you are probably pretty great to begin with. So yes, follow Allison’s advice, be mindful of your work and where you might be able to improve things, but don’t become obsessed with it. Because in the end for most of us job hunting is a total numbers game, and numbers are very rarely warm and reassuring.

    Good luck!

  3. PEBCAK*

    Are you in a field that’s getting smaller? If you are, say, a newspaper journalist, finding a new job is going to take a lot longer than if you are, say, a geriatric nurse.

      1. Lucy*

        I’m in marketing too… it’s a tough field. There are a lot of jobs, but even more people applying. Also, unless you’re in, say, market research, there’s really not a hard skill that you can be better at than other people.. it’s more of a fit thing than anything else. Keep at it, okay? Don’t be discouraged.

      2. AshleyF*

        I’m also in marketing, and I had a terrible time finding a decent position in my field after graduating in 2008. I wrote in to Alison about my cover letter. Alison and the commenters suggested that I was coming on too strong, so I pulled back a bit and that helped.

        You might also consider regional availability. I was looking for marketing jobs in California, fresh out of school, without networking/contacts, with no success. I ended up looking in Texas, where I had connections, and more entry-level/early career jobs exist for marketing. After building up some experience, I was able to find a job through a mutual friend.

        I also broadened my scope for my job requirements. I ended up in an industry that wasn’t a long-term fit, but it allowed me to do a bunch of different types of marketing roles, which definitely helped me when applying to my current position. Good luck, you’ll find something!

        1. Audiophile*

          So if I’m understanding correctly, you moved to TX after being unable to find something in CA?

          I’m an 08 grad as well, and had such a hard time finding something, that I wound up working in education for close to two years. THAT was even harder to break away from, because everyone assumed I was a teacher.

  4. Tiffany In Houston*

    Thank you for this. I have have 19 interviews since April 2012 and have only gotten 1 offer, for the long term contract job I am working now. I have been steadily looking, even now for a permanent role and have gotten to several final rounds with no offers. I’m grateful to be working but it can get demoralizing. I’ll be using these tips.

    1. SingLikeSassy*

      TIH you may never see this but I am so sorry to know you felt like this back then. Am hoping you and M2 are sorted now. Hugs lady!

      (and yeah, I found this old post because my own job search is going so poorly I have to consider at this point that I am blowing it in the last round interviews)

  5. Maggie*

    Ugh, this is so me! I’ve had so many interviews since I started searching this last January (at least 15, all first interviews from different postings) and no offers.

    I really want to follow up and ask what went wrong but my issue is that most of the time I don’t get an outright rejection, just silence until weeks have gone by and I assume they don’t want to talk to me any more. How do you follow up on silence from the other end?

    1. Stephanie*

      On that, I usually just send an email asking for an update on the decision timeline in the first paragraph. After that, I say something like “If I am not being considered for the X role anymore…” followed by something similar to Alison’s suggestion.

      1. Maggie*

        I was thinking about doing that but I guess I’ve had ‘don’t contact employers unless they contact you first’ programmed so hard into my head that I’m always worried about initiating that contact. Of course if they already don’t want me for the job, sending one email certainly can’t make matters any worse…

        So you think it would be okay to contact them in this situation?

        1. OP*

          I used to wait for employers to contact me, but I now follow up because I want to know, need closure, and I don’t want to let companies off the hook when it comes to notifying unsuccessful candidates.

          1. Anon*

            “I don’t want to let companies off the hook when it comes to notifying unsuccessful candidates”

            +1 Same reason why I follow up. I go through so much in order to prepare for an interview. If they can’t be bothered the 30 seconds it takes to send a form letter then they will be hearing back from me.

          2. Felicia*

            Good for you OP! Sooo many of my interviews, the people interviewing me just never contacted me ever again.

        2. Dang*

          I think so, although I never do for the same reason. I think it shows interest, too.. so.. it’s worth a shot. I’m going to start doing it.

        3. Stephanie*

          I agree with the OP. At the very least, they need to let you know. Also, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Worst case scenario, they ignore your email. Best case, you get some valuable feedback and reaffirm your interest with the recruiter/manager.

        4. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          Once you have actually been interviewed, the contact rules change. You should still not be hounding, and still not be calling, but if you asked for a timeline at the end of your interview (which you always should!) and you haven’t heard from them once that timeline has passed, absolutely shoot them an email. Or, if you didn’t ask for a timeline, I’d say a single email any time after one week has passed (but preferably before two) is entirely appropriate.

  6. Anonymous*

    Yep. I could have written this. I’ve gotten to the last step in quite a few interviews in the past 6 months but no offer. I’ve gotten some great feedback but no offers. It’s frustrating as hell, but seeing this letter makes me feel a lot better. The feedback I’ve gotten has been that I had a great background but someone had that X factor smidgeon of experience over me so they landed the job. I keep trying to figure out what I may be doing wrong, but aside from some minor stuff, I think it’s the economy. As cliche as that is at this point.

    Sorry to sound so sad sack but positivity is in shirt supply today.

    1. Felicia*

      that’s pretty much the exact feedback i’ve gotten. Really does make you feel better to know it’s not just you.

    2. Same Boat*

      I hear you. A friend of mine and I are in the same boat and I had lunch with her today. She said “You know, I have days where I’m positive and have a good outlook and then there are just days where I’m just bitter and angry and tired of the whole damn thing.” I nodded vigorously and agreed with her. It gets old trying to find a job, trying to do all the things you’re told to do, trying to stay afloat until you can find something steady. It will suck you dry emotionally.

      Hang in there all my fellow boat dwellers. We may be up shit creek, but at least we’re in good company!

      1. Felicia*

        i don’t know anyone in the same boat…it would probably be better if i knew people in real life who really understood

        1. Same Boat*

          That does help Felicia, for sure. Perhaps you can join an unemployment group for your city or find (or start) such a group on Facebook for your town and then do some meet-ups? Sometimes just being around someone else who says “Yup, me too” is soothing to the soul.

          1. anon-2*

            Yes, Same Boat, but don’t get drawn into the trap, thinking that your fellow unemployed friends will help you very much.

            It may feel good but don’t regard that as “networking”. Some regard these support groups as networking – your primary networking activities should be with people who are in your line of work – and employed.

            The time to build your networks is when you’re still employed …. should the ax fall on you – that’s the time to exploit the network and look for opportunities.

            Since my 1990 unemployment stretch – I joined professional groups. I exchange technical papers. I chat occasionally. I attend conferences. I like to be prominent there but not too forward. My name is still out there in my specialty.

            What happened when a recent layoff hit my place? I was still OK (and still am) but I received five calls from others in the field — all employed at progressive companies – asking about my fate…..and to let them know if there’s any change in my status.

            Advice – aggressively look for jobs. Do not take vacations from that. And network with colleagues in your field who ARE working…. who may be able to help you. You’ll get solace from a “support group for the unemployed”. But you won’t find what you really need there – a job.

            1. Same Boat*

              Thanks for the advice, I’m already well aware of how to look for jobs and do the networking thing. I’m pretty far into my working life at this point, that is to say I’m no spring chicken by far and I’ve been through cycles of unemployment before.

              When I talk of joining groups or connecting with unemployed friends, I’m not talking about a networking group, I’m talking about having people around who understand what you’re going through for EMOTIONAL support. Networking and job hunting is an entirely different animal. My suggestions are for the mental health support more than anything else.

              1. anon-2*

                Good. From your post it looked like you had a grip on things, but I also worry about people who fall into the trap of support and solace groups – and confuse it with networking for employment.

                I have a friend who now has been out for two years. He was a computer engineer, and made the mistake of “networking” — at the unemployment office, by taking various retraining programs and continually associating with those who also went there waiting for something to happen.

                Good luck.

                1. Same Boat*

                  I hope I didn’t come off as snarky, I didn’t mean to if I did :) I wrote that post on the fly before dashing out the door so my apologies if it came off with a bad tone.

                  I do think your advice is very good and needed to be said and understood. Emotional support for unemployment and networking are two very different things and need to be approached differently. This is why I think it’s important to find a group of people (or just a friend or two) you can talk with about how unemployment sucks, commiserate, etc. That helps a lot with feeling like it’s not just you. And, when someone in the group has some job hunting success, it can help with knowing there’s light at the end of the tunnel. That said, that group absolutely SHOULD NOT be confused with a networking group. Networking and job hunting groups are very different with the purpose of moving forward, not providing emotional support. So, short story long, totally agree with you :)

  7. Stephanie*

    For feedback emails, specificity helps. For example, asking for three points of improvement just so the interviewer has some guide (and doesn’t launch into a long laundry list of everything you did poorly) or specific certifications/training you could undertake. Also, if it wasn’t mentioned in the interview, you could ask what they thought was particularly strong about your candidacy (they did agree to interview you at least once, so the manager/HR person liked something!).

    Like Alison said, some interviewers won’t give feedback at all. My dad says his company won’t at all due to fear of lawsuits from misconstrued feedback (granted, he works for a very large, very old school company). But the easier you make it on your interviewer, the more like you are to get a response.

    1. Ruffingit*

      That’s a good point. I find the more specific you can be and the more approachable, the better.

  8. Joey*

    I’ve interviewed tons of people who I was confident that could do the job well. Lately, like in the last year or two I’ve been fortunate to be able to hire people who frankly are overqualified- that is the jobs ive offered them is a step down from what they’ve been recently doing. In the meantime I’ve continued to interview viable candidates who look more realistic on paper at least in terms of fit, expected salary, etc., but it’s really hard not to hire someone who was laid of from a Sr. job to a jr job when they’ve eased my mind about the obvious concerns. I’m not sure what kinds of jobs you’re applying to but I could well see that I’ve interviewed people just like you.

    1. Joey*

      Oh and there was really not any constructive feedback I could give , unless you count -get overqualified as realistic.

      1. Stephanie*

        When I was looking for work in IP, I ran into this. I’d apply for jobs that didn’t require a JD, but with all the out-of-work attorneys, employers sometimes saw candidates with JDs as a plus.

        That does help! Maybe don’t phrase it that way, but you could say that you had a lot of candidates with advanced degrees, certifications (or whatever would be ‘overqualified’ in your field) that made them more attractive. At the very least, it helps applicants get a better idea of their competition, let them know if they’re aiming too high for jobs, and steps to take to make themselves more competitive applicants.

  9. Tiffany*

    I’ve had 43 interviews to date (since March). It’s discouraging, but considering I’ve applied for over 160 jobs, I think getting an interview for 1 in 3 is pretty good stats.

    1. Joey*

      I told my wife this when she was looking for a job- the more you miss the more your odds increase at succeeding the next time.

    2. Felicia*

      I’m glad someone else has roughly the same amount of interviews as me with no success! it makes me feel less bad about myself.

      I get roughly 1 interview for every 3 applications too!

  10. Sunflower*

    Are you possibly appearing too desperate for the job? When I was looking for work, I found I was so desperate for a job that interviewers could see I wasn’t just interested in the job, I was interested in ANY job. I had to put myself in the mind set that even though I did need any job I was offered, I had to act like I had nothing to lose.

    1. Kara*

      THIS. I’ve interviewed people who were clearly just looking for any job at our company, and we passed on them even if they were qualified. Because of the supply/demand economics discussed above, we had our pick, so why not go with someone both qualified AND who wanted the specific job we were posting?

  11. Wilton Businessman*

    The other day I read an article that said the average number of interviews to an offer in this market is 18. (they included Phone Interviews).

    My wife was laid off in July. She had 10 in-person interviews and had about twice as many phone interviews. In late November she got TWO OFFERS ON THE SAME DAY!

    This job market sucks. The numbers that the people at the top are feeding us don’t reflect what is happening in the real world.

    Hang in there.

  12. Amanda*

    To piggyback on this, is there a problem if your interviewers drop off the face of the planet after the rejection? I’ve been gracious in my “thank you for your rejection” email, I’ve expressed interest in future openings and politely and humbly asked for feedback. A few times, I’ve followed up a few months after the fact, checking in and still expressing interest in their organization. Radio silence. One interviewer even ignored my LinkedIn request! I can’t help but think that there’s some sort of socially awkward mannerism that is making interviewers never want to talk to me again. After all, if they thought I was great-just someone else was a little better-wouldn’t it be in their best interest to engage me a little so they had me on a line when the next opening popped up?

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      IMHO, that’s a little too much. They said no, you said OK, if you have anything else let me know. Done. No need to follow up, no need to nurture the connection, no need to be LinkedIn buddies. Done.

      On the other hand, if a new opening DOES come up, certainly leverage your contact at that time.

    2. Jamie*

      One interviewer even ignored my LinkedIn request!

      That’s not uncommon. A lot of people don’t connect with everyone they know casually – I wouldn’t connect with someone just because I interviewed them…not unless there was some awesome rapport and I thought the connection could be beneficial.

    3. Same Boat*

      wouldn’t it be in their best interest to engage me a little so they had me on a line when the next opening popped up?

      No, because if they have something that you might be a good fit for in the future, they will contact you. If you are already employed or don’t want the opportunity, they will move on to the next candidate in their stack. Employers do not have to put in the effort to engage anyone because there are so many applicants, they are drowning in them. It’s an employer’s market all the way so trying to keep people “engaged” is not an issue for them.

    4. Sunflower*

      Some companies won’t let managers give feed back to rejected candidate because it could possibly open the door to a lawsuit

  13. Mere*

    I’ve been there. I was out of work for 18 months between 2008 and 2010. How far have you made it in the interview process? Was it just 10 pre-screens? Or 10 interviews where you went on several rounds? I think that if you’ve been on 10 interviews when you’ve advanced through the interview process, that you probably just weren’t the best candidate.

  14. Elizabeth West*

    I second checking out Alison’s guide–if for no other reason than it’s excellent advice. It helped me a huge amount. And there are tons of posts on this blog about how to improve your cover letter and resume if you’re not getting interviews like you think you should be. But really, this market SUCKS. It really does. I am really shocked it only took me a year to find a decent job–our city has lots of jobs, but they all pay peanuts. If I were a squirrel, I could survive on it, but I’m not! :P

    1. AB*

      Yes. I’m noticing a drastic decrease in salaries for open positions, which I’m sure also causing any relatively well-paying job to receive tons of super qualified applicants, thus reducing the chances of any interviewee to be chosen.

      This year, I’ve been looking for a new job for several months, and only got immediate rejection for jobs that asked for a salary range, or had to end the process during a phone screening in which I learned they wanted to pay me only 50-60% of my current salary. On the other hand, I helped several coworkers with 1-5 years of experience find new jobs in our field, but all of them earning the same or less than their previous jobs used to pay.

      Compensation at this point truly sucks, and for some people (like me), running your own business is being a much more profitable endeavor, even with all the uncertainty involved.

  15. Mena*

    Are you purusing job postings that are really and truely a good fit for your skills and experience OR feeling pressured to find something/anything, are you reaching out to positions that are not a direct fit? You may not realize that you’re ‘stretching’ when sending out resumes.

    I job-hunted for about 10 months while doing contract work at the same time. I didn’t send out a lot of resumes but when I did, I felt strongly about the direct fit. And then came the job posting that read almost exactly like my experience base – yes, it sounded like the most perfect fit for me. And it was, and I beat out a lot of other candidates, and I got th job and I’ve loved this job for 3 years!!

    Stay focused, keep watch for a posting that parallels your experience. It will come along. Good luck!!

    1. Anon*

      If it was a stretch job, a job you don’t fit, they wouldn’t even take you for an interview. So the OP is at least on the right track. Right? That’s my thinking anyway.

      1. Felicia*

        I think you don’t get interviews for stretch jobs, and you don’t get interviews if you didn’t have any shot. I know when I get interviews, for the jobs I apply for, that means i was more appealing than at least 100 others.

      2. Stephanie*

        I think there might be instances where the interviewer is ok that you have only three out the five qualifications, but I can’t imagine any hiring manager has time to interview wildly unqualified candidates.

        1. MrsG*

          “I can’t imagine any hiring manager has time to interview wildly unqualified candidates.”

          I had an interview a few months ago where the guy said he just brought me in just to see why I was interested in the position. A phone call would have wasted less of my gas. :/

  16. Hooptie*

    I agree; Alison’s guide is fantastic. If I may add one suggestion to it? Be sure that when you are checking out the company’s website that you don’t miss their PR/Media/News Releases page if they have one.

    The best candidates I’ve interviewed over the last year clearly did this, and were able to speak to and ask questions about our 25th anniversary, new products we launched, causes we supported, etc. These interviews were also more like a conversation because they already had a feel for who we are and what our culture is like.

    Another suggestion, especially if a company doesn’t have a PR page, is to sign up for Google Alerts on them.

    1. AB*

      This sounds like great advice for a marketing position! I’m sure candidates that show a great level of understanding of the company’s products / new launches / causes supported / etc. will stand out from the crowd. A person providing feedback to the OP may not even be aware that this was what tipped the scale, but that may very well be the main reason for choosing one candidate over another equally qualified.

  17. Jen*

    Hang in there! Read AMA’s book and her posts and know that it isn’t ALL you.

    I lived in a mid-sized city for a while and it was many states away from my small private liberal college and my first job. No one was familiar with my experience. I didn’t have a good network. I had like 20 bajillion interviews there for PR jobs. Never received a full time job offer. I had no idea what I was doing wrong.

    I moved to Chicago. I had four job interviews and was hired to a full-time job in non-profit public reltions. I went from 2.5 years of job searching to just 2 months of job searching and changed almost nothing about my resume or my interview skills.

    I think in the smaller city, there weren’t many jobs and the competition was fierce. In Chicago there was a lot of competition but also way more jobs.

    Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting to the sweet spot of right amount of applicants, the correct skills and experience for the job and then clicking with the interviewer.

    1. Felicia*

      I live in Toronto, which is the biggest city, and has the most opportunities, but also the most job applicants and the worst job market, especially for young people.

    2. Anon*

      I’m nestled in a great area where I can look at opportunities in Washington DC, Baltimore MD, and Philadelphia PA, as well as the local areas in between. Now that I’m thinking of it, all of my interviews have come from Baltimore or locally. Weird…

        1. Dang*

          No kidding! I remember seeing it in a list of ‘better US markets to find a job’ somewhere. Hope you find something there… it’s a great city!

          (I moved back in with my folks out of necessity from far away too. Solidarity!)

    3. Stephanie*

      Ugh, yeah. This. I had to move back in with my parents in Phoenix for financial reasons. Phoenix is a large metro area, but a lot of the big sectors here (aerospace/defense, tourism, construction) are stagnant or barely recovering. So competition for things here are pretty fierce. Add all that to the fact that I went to school out of state.

      My parents were like “Why do you keep interviewing for all these jobs in NYC and Philly and Los Angeles?”
      “Because Arizona’s based its economy on tourism, retiree pensions, developer kickbacks, and defense contracts. Grass is greener–literally-elsewhere.”

      Interviewing long-distance is its own can of worms (and I’m aware it’s way easier for me at 27 to relocate), but sometimes it is the metro area you’re searching in,

  18. Shannon Terry*

    All you job seekers, take heart, I feel your pain. I hear it from clients all the time, and AAM input, as always, is spot on, though we all wish it was concrete of an answer, huh?

    If, like the OP, you wonder if it’s you, here’s another important tip: one thing to remember during an interview is to make sure you share example stories that repeat and demonstrate the key skill sets you have highlighted in your targeted resume (you know, the ones that likely got your the interview in the first place!). Doing so is a part of all this ‘branding’ stuff you may have heard about, but beyond being this trendy job search approach, who doesn’t benefit from having the important stuff repeated for them so they ‘get it’?

    Make it easy for the interviewer to hear how you match their needs by focusing in on those key requirements. Help her/him see why YOU are a highly qualified (perhaps the best) candidate for the job.

    SHOWING how you have applied those skills with those example stories is key & how to do this is what I teach & have my clients practice. It’s one thing to say, “I’m an excellent team /project manager” and another to illustrate an appropriate example with pertinent (but not over the top) details about a time you lead your team to completing a complex project with multiple time sensitive deadlines on time & within budget to an ecstatic client who referred others and/or rehired you …. see what I mean? Which is more compelling and convincing?

    Lastly, I whole heartedly agree with the “practice practice practice” advice. However, many clients have said that our friends/spouse/family may or may not be the best partner, depending especially on their level of biz expertise & experience (esp. in hiring related tasks), your comfort level with them, & desire to have them involved. Sometimes a neutral perspective from someone without emotional attachments to you getting a job (and without the risk of relationship strain!) will actually help both your nerves and the effectiveness of your practice. Whoever you choose as a practice partner, make sure you prepare & practice several great example stories to pull out for the anticipated questions.

    Keep on keeping on, folks! Keeping our spirits & confidence up is, in my opinion, one of THE hardest parts of a job search. Finding &using great resources like AAM shows you are doing the work … it WILL happen ….

    1. AB*

      “It’s one thing to say, “I’m an excellent team /project manager” and another to illustrate an appropriate example with pertinent (but not over the top) details about a time you lead your team to completing a complex project with multiple time sensitive deadlines on time & within budget to an ecstatic client who referred others and/or rehired you ….”

      Precisely! Even in my resume I use as evidence of my abilities the fact that most of my clients rehired me for a new project within the same company, or for a new company when they moved jobs.

      It annoys me tremendously to interview people who say how attentive to details they are (when their resume has grammar mistakes or lack parallelism in bullets), how great team players they are (without a single example of how they collaborated with others), and so on. Find good examples of the skills you want to show you have, and talk about these examples, rather than offering self-praise, which rarely works.

  19. Anonna Ms.*

    I agree – sometimes the difference is willingness or ability to relocate to a better job market.

    I got laid off earlier this year, and my field was teeny tiny in the small city I lived in. I was lucky enough to not have a mortgage or a spouse that couldn’t relocate, so I opened up my search internationally. Thankfully I landed something soon in my home state. I wasn’t having much luck where I was.

  20. Felicia*

    I’ve had 38 interviews in the past year and no offers, and I too have started to feel like there’s something wrong with me:(

    Usually when I ask for feedback it’s something like you’re a great candidate, you interviewed great, your writing samples were great, we just went with someone who was a better fit. Or I get – you were in the top 5 out of 300 applicants and we’d love to hire you but we only have one opening. Vaguely helpful is we went with someone with more experience in x, but i can’t get more experience unless i get a chance, and i had more than the minimum experience in x the job posting said.

    I’m starting to feel like i “won’t be a good fit” anywhere:( though i am confident my resume and cover letters must be good because i get lots of interviews.

    1. voluptuousfire*

      I think it’s a matter of timing. Like Felicia said, I’m confident that my resume is good because it *is* getting me interviews. I know why some of the interviews I went on didn’t work out (some I was a bit too talkative, my experience with a certain software wasn’t 100% and they hired someone who had that 100%, etc). Others, no idea.

  21. Lady*

    I always agree with Alison’s advice and do in this case too. However I think the sample email asking for feedback is too detailed and leading. All you need to say is “would you be able to provide me with feedback on why I was not the chosen candidate, I appreciate your time, etc.” And also, why not do that for every position you were interviewed for and were genuinely interested in, and not just the ones where you felt you had a “rapport”? I live in the UK and I realize it is much more common to ask for feedback after interviews here than it is in the U.S. It doesn’t mean you will receive a reply, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The thing with the wording you suggest here is that it’s really, really easy to ignore — and gets ignored a lot, at least in the U.S. Something more personal (while still staying professional) has a better chance of being answered.

  22. Origami Banana*

    I am in the same boat too! Been unemployed since January.
    Was recently offered a job under the condition that I had a medical check before I started. I have been diagnosed with depression and since I was directly asked, I informed them I am taking medication for it and that it’s under control. I didn’t pass the medical and the offer was removed. Very frustrating.

    1. Same Boat*

      That sucks! That kind of thing just leads to people lying about their medical conditions. Having suffered from depression myself and been on meds for it, I know that it’s manageable and doesn’t have to affect your work. Sorry that happened to you!

  23. MrsG*

    I haven’t had a permanent job since October, 2012. I was able to snag a temp to hire position after something like 60 apps/13 interviews over 6 months, and it took that long for anyone to offer feedback. The lady I worked with was so honest with me about my eye contact and mannerisms, and she said she felt like she was insulting me but I was SO GRATEFUL to finally have some feedback!

    That only lasted for 5 months and I didn’t take the job, I was unemployed for 3 months and had 29 apps/9 interviews (fortunately or unfortunately I keep track). Now I am on another temp to hire assignment that I didn’t have to interview for; I’ve just been doing the most amazing work I can put out.

    I’m glad to see you know the career path/job you’d like to have. I don’t have that and I know I still struggle with answering the why you want to work here questions. :/

    My eye contact is so great now, though.

  24. Kinky Kurly*

    Sigh. This is so my story. The constant rejection can be dejecting. I actually had to step away from the job search process for a little while just to protect my mental health. I was/still am immensely saddened and angry about not being able to find a job.

  25. LostAtSea*

    I was recently laid-off of a job. First time in my life. Shocking experience, took a toll on me emotionally that I did not expect.

    I have only been out of work for less than a month, but it has been a struggle. I have been on 5 interviews and some I have done really well, I thought, but were given “why are you going for this position, is it not a downgrade”?

    My retort is that I am happy in the role as described and hope to exhibit extra qualities that will only be beneficial to the firm and for my career growth, at the firm.

    While I have not heard a Yes, I have not heard a no from some of the 5.

    I am trying to remain positive, and look towards my faith. Some days are good, others are bad. A morning may be positive, then it fades. The normality of a schedule, the notion that your job does not give you “worth” is something easy for books to proclaim, etc…

    I fully recognize that I am moving towards wallowing, having google’d so many “why can’t I” forums.

    This is less than a month! I will need to grow that thicker skin, I am going to trust in my faith, my value, skill and experience and remain positive.

    1. Chris*

      You had 5 interviews in a month?!?! You are an exception to the rule. Consider yourself VERY lucky. I had 5 interviews in 4 months after applying to 50 jobs or more.

    2. Chris*

      I have found that some companies are absolutely rude about not getting back. I understand not getting back to you after a phone interview, but after about 5 interviews only 2 responded with a “thanks but we found someone else” e-mail. It is very rude not to get back to someone after an in person interview, but unfortunately, it happens much more often now. Just send an email that says I am interested in the position, however, just wanted to know where you stand in the process.

  26. Michelle*

    I know this is an older post, but I just have to sound in. I’ve had 24 interviews in 4 months, talked to 19 companies total, out of about 160 applications. I’ve had several I had exact experience for, were in my field, thought I connected well with the interviewer and then they ignore you or send some heartless form letter. I had a lot of admin jobs imply in the interview that I was overqualified and there were concerns I’d leave right away (ok, why did you call me in for an interview?). So I now only apply to higher jobs in PR and writing and can’t hear a dang think back, I assume because there’s a lot of very professional journalists out of work for years. I do everything I’m supposed to for interviews. I don’t believe in asking for feedback because I think that puts the interviewer in an awkward position. Are they really going to tell me the real reasons? That I’m not “perky” enough (a real reason I found through the grape vine once), that I’m less attractive, that someone was a better “fit” because they like the same movies, that they hired the boss’ unemployable nephew (another one I heard), that I seemed too good and they were afraid I’d take their job? No, they’re going to give me some unhelpful, pacifying advice I can’t trust. The real challenge now isn’t whether I researched the company enough or do I dress pretty enough, it’s keeping this enormous chip off my shoulder because I know odds are I’ll go dance their little monkey dance they expect from me and never hear a friggin’ word back!

  27. Chris*

    HOW OLD ARE YOU? If you are say 45 and older and most applicants are say 25 years old that will make a difference? Employers may want someone who is not as “bossy” not that you are bossy, it’s just a 30 year older could have preconceieve notions about a 55 year old. They can also find a younger candidate willing to take less money because it’s cheaper.

    WHAT NATIONALITY ARE YOU? Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, etc? Could also be a factor…
    Depending on who is interviewing you.

    There is still job discrimination, it’s just that people won’t mention it. And they WON’T tell you why they didn’t hire you.

  28. Cindy*

    Chris, I don’t agree with what you wrote. There is just to much competition, 2 years later, I’m going thru it at 53 years old. The last job the guy “wanted” a middle aged person so they wouldn’t leave, so why didn’t I get picked? Competition. At least they had unemployment extensions, we don’t.

  29. al*

    One interviewer spent a whole day interviewing maybe 8 or less finalists? I had advanced qualifications and skills and could do the job easily.was prob the least experienced most qualified applicant with low salary expectations. the job was advertised online again the next day. Its an employers market.

  30. DANI*

    I’ve had a several interviews since i started looking for job ( about 8 interviews ) and i thing that my problem is when i am with the interviewer i don’t know if i really want this job, so i answer the questions with no confidence…
    how do i know that i am at the right place?

    1. Sanny*

      Read your job responsibilities before you end up for an face to face interview with them.
      If you unnecessarily go to interviews for you don’t want to sit idle or show the world you’re trying your level best- that is not how it works.
      If you do something too much then the importance and seriousness is lost,and that’s very dangerous when it comes to your job/career.Also that attitude,unwittingly, sends a wrong message to your interviewers,even if you don’t genuinely mean that.They can’t be blamed,all they’re trained for is to judge a candidate by their first impression(which may or may not be our best impression)
      And try to keep every interview failed as a part of your learning process,brooding over it for a few days is not going to help in any way either.
      1) Make a checklist of things you couldn’t do or express or answer when you failed an interview and keep improving on that.
      2)Record your voice during an interview and review it yourself from a third person’s POV,it will definitely help.

  31. Arizona*

    I had over 20 interviews on the Navajo Reservation, I haven’t get a job. How sad is that. I actually have to sleep with someone or drink with someone to get a job?. Im very frustrated. Of course everyone knows each other, so they act like there conducting business but in reality there not, there already made choices on who to pick after interviews.

  32. caleb thomas*

    You need to ask the person who calls you to schedule this question “How many people aside from myself will be interviewing, and how many openings are you trying to fill?”. You should ask this question before you schedule as they will then feel obligated to tell you this information. If you know that the interviewee’s to positional vacancies ratio is super high going in you will then know whether to blame yourself or others. You can also go into the interview knowing whether or not you have a good, mediocre, or low chance of getting hired. It will also help you develop a strategy or help you determine if this is an interview you even want to attend. Say the HR butt hole on the other end of the phone tells you that there will be 15 people interviewing for 1 position. This is good info for you to know as you can tell whether or not the company is doing their due diligence and really considering all of the applicants relevant experience. 100 names may have been listed in an excel worksheet with corresponding numbers and a randbetween function was used to narrow the applicant pool down to 15. Or maybe they just promoted a wet behind the ears hiring manager who has never conducted an interview before. Now they are just trying to give this person some repetitions before the real hiring period coming up in three weeks. If I hear a silly number for candidates followed by a low number for vacancies I am going to politely tell the HR person to call me if none of the other 14 candidates pan out for them. Rejections turn my whole world upside down. They rob me of my hope, confidence, and self esteem. Especially those ones that get sent out via “do not respond” email style. I doubt the company is going to take the time to write 15 thoughtful and personalized hand written letters to all the 14 rejects that failed to impress them during the interview. I know my limitations. I am not going to be that guy who a pretentious group of hiring personnel gets to know in one hour by asking me your typical interview questions such as “Tell me about yourself” or “why did you leave your last job”. I get hired when companies read through my entire resume and respect people’s time and feelings enough to leave them alone if they look anything less than perfect for the job on paper. Companies that do respect candidates time and feelings are the companies that I want to work for. They are the ones that will make accommodations for employee’s struggling with personal problems or go above and beyond to make sure a new hire gets settled in and receives adequate support and training most will need to be successful in the long run. But, those other guys that like to throw dung at a wall and see if they stick can be useful at times. Such times can be when a job seeker has fallen out of practice and needs some interview reps of their own before going for that opportunity they are perfect for. It is also fun to try and do well at those types of interviews and send them a rejection letter stating the flaws you saw in their management style based on that one hour period of time. Because they are not used to be criticized by applicants it hurts them a lot more than they can hurt you. Or you could prompt them into asking you an inappropriate question such as whether or not you are married or if you are a veteran, a question about your service record. Swiftly inform them that this is an inappropriate and unprofessional question to ask and if they continue to ask these types of questions you will need to end the interview. Watch as their face turns bright red and they begin to walk on egg shells in front of your very eyes. Hell you will probably even start being yourself and get the job offer if you did that.

  33. A Person*

    I’ve attended hundreds of interviews and done a few too. It comes down to this. The interviewer always without question, recruits individuals that have had the same experiences as they have had, and personalities which are close to theirs. You notice this more for blue collar type jobs. I know 1 minute in the interview whether or not I have a chance. When I know I don’t have a chance, I’m rude and sarcastic, because its there inadequacies and short sightedness that’s the problem and your wasting your time carrying on with the interview, its the way it is. Don’t forget some of these interviewers are incompetent at interviewing and have had limited life experiences. So, in short its not you, just keep trying, you will get one that clicks, and the probabilities are small when this happens.

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