I’m frustrated that I was rejected by an employer for a second time

A reader writes:

Two and a half years ago, I was working two part time jobs to make a full-time income when I laid off from the larger job, and have been subsequently working the smaller part-time job, while looking for full-time work. I am an older, minority worker, and while I know those are not supposed to be factors by law, I am not totally convinced that hasn’t contributed to the longest job search of my life. A little over a year ago, I had applied for a job with a large nonprofit and made it to the interview stage. I did the best I could and thought the interviews had gone well enough, I followed up properly, but ultimately when the decision was made, I didn’t get hired. I had really wanted it because I like the organization a lot, so it was a somewhat disappointing when I didn’t get it. But I figured it happens, moved on, and forgot about it after a while.

During the conversation where I was told I wasn’t hired, I was offered the opportunity to ask for feedback and was told that the team didn’t feel I would be comfortable with certain solitary aspects of the job. The irony of of this was that when I was subsequently rejected earlier in the process for similar position, I actually got special feedback from the manager, and was told the reason I didn’t move on was the screener/interviewer felt I was “too much of a lone wolf” for certain aspects of the job. The manager admitted that a mistake was made, but it was too late to add me to the possible hiring pool. Which only left me wondering wondering how I could be both.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I answered a blind box ad that just described the job but didn’t give out the identity of the company, and since the description sounded very close to my qualifications, I applied. I wrote a good cover letter, fine-tuned my resume to fit, and sure enough, a few days later I get a call from the hiring manager. The name she left sounded familiar but I couldn’t find any record of her in my files. As we spoke, we realized we had indeed met before and acknowledged our previous encounters. However she said she “definitely” wanted me to come in and interview, so we set something up for early the following week.

Once again, I thought the interview went well. This time they were in the process of changing systems, so it would be like coming in fresh and not joining a well established unit. Also, I only spoke to the hiring manager and not the rest of the team, so it was a briefer interview. I consciously did what I could to make it like a fresh opportunity and not come across like I was taking anything for granted, or conversely holding onto anything negative from the first rejection, which I wasn’t anyway. At the conclusion, I asked about the next steps and was told a decision would be made in 2-3 days. I followed up with a thank-you letter reinforcing my interest and appetite for the job, but when the stated decision time came there was no response. A week later, I got a message from the hiring manager that someone else was hired, it was good to see me again, and good luck with my search.

Normally, I might be briefly disappointed but shake those types of rejections off. But this particular one feels like a real gut punch, which finally brings me to my question.

If she knew she didn’t want me the first time, why would the hiring manager bring me in a second time, only to reject me again? Did she not believe in her first decision? I would have honestly felt better if during the phone interview she had said something along the lines of “I know you have applied for this position before and I didn’t hire you. This job has opened up again because the person I did hire then is leaving. But if it is all the same to you, I would rather look at some other candidates who most recently applied. Thank you for your interest again though and good luck.”

I’d prefer that to being brought in again only to get a second rejection via a phone message. The former I could respect, even if I didn’t like it, while the latter feels more like being jerked around, to the point where if I should ever be confronted this type of situation again (which I hope I am not) I am thinking it is better to decline to go. Am I wrong to feel like this?

Well, I think you’re looking at it wrong.

She didn’t know that she wouldn’t want to hire you this time. She thought you were strong enough that you could be the best person for the job. That’s why she asked you to come in and interview. Ultimately, someone else ended up being a better fit for the job, but she didn’t know whether or not that would be the case until she finished interviewing.

I’m sure that you didn’t think that you were guaranteed the job the second time around, right? (Actually, some people do think those sorts of things, but you don’t sound like you did.) She considered you a strong candidate, thought it was possible that you could end up being the strongest of the finalists she interviewed, and behaved accordingly.

Imagine this: You’re hiring a contractor to do some major work on your house. You’re talking with a few different contractors about the job, and one of them is someone who you talked to a few years ago when you were redoing your deck. You liked him at the time even though someone else ended up being better for the job, and you think maybe you think maybe he’d work out for this new job. But after talking with three or four people, ultimately your favorite pick ends up being someone else.

It’s really no different here. These are business relationships. It’s not like a dating situation, where someone is either interested in you or not. Employers are trying to find the best person for the job, with a pool of multiple people who could be well-qualified.

Would you really not prefer not to even have a shot at the job if there was a chance that it meant risking a second rejection? Certainly if that’s how you feel, you should refuse interviews in cases like this, but it seems pretty short-sighted to me.

{ 108 comments… read them below }

  1. LBK

    I think it’s important to remember that each round of hiring is a fresh, new process, so while in your head it might seem like the list of worthy candidates had been established the first time and they should just be going down the list for each open position until they get to your name, that’s not at all how it really works. Each time they’re looking at a totally new mix of people – especially if it’s been a while since the first round, there’s unlikely to be a lot of overlap in the hiring pool since people from the first round will probably have gotten other jobs and people who weren’t hunting during the first round are now. Whatever it was that the first person had that had gotten them hired over you originally could easily be present in the second round, too – someone with more experience, someone that clicks better with the team, or the CEO’s other kid is now looking for a job.

    This may also hurt to hear, but it also doesn’t sound like you were the immediate second choice for the role. If you were beat out by a hair by the person that got hired, I think it’s more likely that they’d come to you first for the next open position, but it doesn’t sound like they were so wowed by you the first time that they were itching to hire you once a new position opened. Instead they opened up the pool again and unfortunately, you still weren’t at the top of it this time.

    1. Holly Olly Oxen Free

      I don’t necessarily think that anything here implies that they weren’t wowed by the OP. This was a year and a half later so I don’t think many employers would contact their runner up for the last time the job was open so long after they were rejected.

      1. LBK

        True, although I think it depends on the role. If it’s something that’s harder to hire for or where positions open up rarely, I could see remembering your second choice’s name or at least having them rush back to your memory once you talk to them again. Particularly if it was a tough call on who to choose the last time the position was open, you might at least remember the difficulty of that process, if not the candidate’s name.

        1. RVA Cat

          Think about all of the actors who get nominated more than once for an Oscar but don’t win. But it’s for a different role in a different film, competing with different people.

          1. AdAgencyChick

            Great analogy.

            (I do feel for you, OP, having been recently rejected for the second time by a company also.)

          2. Cath in Canada

            Oh, that’s a great analogy.

            I spend a lot of time trying to cheer up grad students and postdocs whose funding applications were rejected, sometimes for the second time. It’s especially hard when the first application gest really close, and they respond to reviewers’ comments to improve the resubmission – but then they still don’t get funded even though it’s a better application. I have to explain that it’s because the resubmission was judged against completely different competing applications compared to the first attempt. I’m going to use the Oscars analogy from now on!

            With the success rates in some grant competitions as low as 6%, you have to get used to rejection early on in this career path! When I tell these trainees that we sometimes spend weeks on a full grant application, knowing it won’t be funded the first time but with decent hopes for the resubmission, they look appalled, but it’s just how the system works…

  2. Future Analyst

    No advice, just sympathy, OP. Even though we all know we’re supposed to move on after interviews, it gets progressively harder the more times you interview with a company. In this case, I think the hiring manager gave you a legitimate shot at the second position, and it just didn’t work out again. Would you really rather that she had written you off because they declined to hire you the first time?

  3. Katie the Fed

    I’m going to repeat a comment I made on the other thread this morning.

    Hiring is a pain. Managers don’t bring candidates in for interviews just for fun – you’re being interviewed/considered because they are seriously interviewing and considering you. They’re not going to bring you in just to mess with you.

    1. BRR

      This is so important to learn. This is actually how I calm my nerves. They already think or know I can do the job by the final interview stage.

      Also I’m going to be all butt hurt now (I hate doing something like this) but some places do need a certain number of candidates. I strongly think this isn’t that common due to your point of it being a pain.

    2. Just Another Techie

      Oh man, did my perspective on interviews change so much after my first couple interviews on the employer side of things. I really wish I’d had this experience and insight on my last job search.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Absolutely. Related to that, I’m convinced people would get way better at interviewing if they read stuff aimed at interviewers rather than only stuff aimed at job seekers.

    3. Kimberlee, Esq.

      And additionally, even if you’re not the favorite going in to the interview, you’re being given a chance. Every step you’re advanced overwhelmingly means 1) you’re still in the game, and 2) you’re being given another chance to wow them. I do phone screens with people I think probably aren’t my person all the time. But I’ve also seen those same people knock it out of the park and advance in the process. You’re in the game until you’re out of the game.

    4. Marzipan

      This, this, a thousand times this!

      I have quite often interviewed the same candidate on more than one occasion for roles in our team, and I’ve done it because their applications were strong enough, compared with the rest of the pool, for them to be in with a shot at the job each time. No more, no less. If we see someone a second time, it’s either because they impressed us the first time, or because their application demonstrates that they’ve developed in whatever area *didn’t* impress us the first time. But I’m absolutely, definitely not hauling people in just for the sake of it, or to mess with then in some way, because what would be the point? Interviewing is complex, and tiring, and no more fun for us than it is for the interviewee.

      (Can you tell we’ve just done three solid days of interviews?)

    5. AdAgencyChick

      YES, YES, and YES.

      Hiring managers don’t want to spend their time interviewing. Recruiters do, because it keeps them in a job. But for the hiring manager, every interview she has to conduct is another half hour or hour she doesn’t have to get her regular work done, or come in early or stay late to accommodate a candidate’s schedule. AND, because she has an open position, she’s probably already doing work that the person who gets the job would be doing, on top of her own.

      She wants to hire someone awesome, in as few steps as possible. She won’t interview someone she has no intention of hiring unless there are messed-up office politics going on.

    6. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

      That’s GENERALLY true, Katie. It’s not universally true.

      I suggest you watch the movie “The Company Men”. During a period of unemployment – brief, thankfully, and 25 years ago — everything that happened to Ben Affleck’s character (Bobby Walker) on interviews happened to me.

      Going through a series of interviews to be told “you’re my man” and agreeing on salary – and then the job goes to someone else. Being called into an interview cycle and learning that the job you’re being considered for is NOT what you applied for. Traveling to a job interview – at your own expense – and being stood up on your appointment.

      And I was called in to at least one interview so the interviewer could mess with me. He so much as admitted that I was there for his own amusement. And we have read of other bizarro interview experiences in this column – the one where candidates had to cook a “group meal” for the office staff …. if that’s not messing with people, I don’t know what is.

      You’re fortunate – maybe in the federal government – they’ve stopped sham interviews, but they still exist out there. They still do.

    7. SherryD

      I agree that it’s generally true that employers only bring in candidates who they believe will be worthwhile interviews. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t front-runners, even before the interviews start. For example, an internal candidate, or someone who had a good word put in for them, or someone whose resume indicates they’ll be a better fit. So I don’t think hiring managers offer interviews on a lark, but they’re probably more excited to interview some candidates over others.

      OP, that sucks! It’s always frustrating to put time, energy, and probably some anxiety into a job interview, and have it all be for nothing. We’ve all been there. I always tell myself that, in most situations, the employer simply has more qualified applicants than they have positions to fill, and it’s nothing personal.

    8. Koko

      So much this. 30-60 minutes for the interview itself, plus the 15-30 minutes I typically spend prepping for the interview, printing the resume, flagging things I’d like to ask about…Goodness, I could do so much more with that 45-90 minutes than a fake interview with someone I have no intention of ever hiring.

      Not to mention, for an introvert like me, there’s a certain amount of mental fatigue that comes from having a lengthy and fairly formal conversation with an unfamiliar person. It’s not that I dislike it (I actually quite like interviewing candidates!) but it takes more out of me than typing away at my computer working on routine/familiar tasks, or sitting in less formal meetings with coworkers that I have close working relationships with.

  4. BRR

    It’s rarely personal when somebody rejects you. Being on the hiring side of things really helps frame your perspective when you’re job hunting. On a committee I was just on we liked the second choice. We just liked the first choice more. If the first choice rejected our offer we would have gladly hired the second choice. Now from the second choice’s perspective, she’s probably really disappointed. Honestly we liked her enough we’d recommend her for other positions and this could happen to her. Most of the time you can only choose one.

    Something I have done which really might be not healthy is look who did get the job. While it’s definitely possible you could do the job, sometimes I have looked who beat me and went, “Wow I would have hired them too.” Obviously this can go the other way so if you think it will just anger you don’t do it.

    1. YandO

      A few month ago I applied for a job I thought was so out of my league, I was not even on the same planet. However, the job and the organization were everything I ever hoped for but did not think existed, so I took a shot and then put it out of my mind. Six weeks later they asked me to complete a questionnaire. Few more weeks later they asked to have a Skype Interview. Then they flew me out (a non-profit!) to their state and booked a very nice (expensive!) hotel for me to stay at. Every step of the way was a huge surprise to me. I knew I was under-qualified for what they wanted. I was riding on my very relevant background and even more evident passion for their mission.

      In the interview with the CEO, he flat out said I was too junior. It was disheartening to hear because I figured I won’t get the job after that and I did not. However, the experience itself was a huge learning opportunity for me and I walked away knowing myself better than I did before.

      Looking up the person they hired instead, who does have years more experience than I do, has really helped me to move on and adopt a more positive/productive outlook.

      I am just sad I have not been able to find a job that comes even close to this job in terms of fit. It was my own personal unicorn.

      1. BRR

        This is such a great story. When my husband started job hunting there was one that seemed like a great fit (he didn’t get anything but a rejection). I looked up who got it and first reaction was, “Oh shit I would have brought them in too, they look perfect for this.”

        It also makes me think of when I was job hunting that I would steal good answers from my past interviews. Where I work now was possibly the 4th or 5th place I progressed past the application stage but I had interviewed with other places which was good practice and with different questions I had created some good answers on the spot. I used those going forward so that when I got to the place I work now (which was my best option by far) I got the job.

        1. YandO

          Yeah, I am A LOT better at interviewing now than I was when I started out. I think if I had known then, what I know now, there are a least a few jobs (the unicorn included) I would have gotten offers from or would be very close to.

          I just had a phone screen for a job where I did not even mess up (in a significant “oh, shit!” way) once. You get better as you go, the only downside is that now those opportunities are no longer available.

          So, I hope for new opportunities. Something has got to happen, right? This is my first “real” job search and I was totally unprepared for how long it takes.

      2. Oryx

        For two jobs I interviewed for and did not get, I’ve been able to find out who the hires were — once because that sort of thing gets published in our trade magazines and two because I’m friends with the person. In both instances, knowing their background, I was like “Oh well of course — I would have hired them over me, too!” So, yes, that really does help with having a positive outlook on these situations.

      3. RVA Cat

        YandO, don’t give up on your unicorn just yet. To fly you out, they may have something coming up for you in the pipeline. It’s only been a few months after all. It could be that they have a more junior person who, say, will be leaving in August for grad school.

    2. pigbitinmad

      I do the same thing and I think “gee, the hired a newbie because she was about 20 years younger than me.” Why just today, I had a phoner interview with an academic institution where the interviewer kept stressing over and over that it was about “culture” and “it’s like a tech startup here.” Although the job was for an acquisitions coordinator (with a whole laundry list of things outside the scope of that job normally), the interviewer was 25 years old and not a librarian himself. I kept pointing to everything in the job description that I have actually done but kept getting mixed signals implying that none of these things had anything to do with the job. Finally I just said, “all this stuff is on my resume, so I guess there must be a reason you called me.”

      Personally, I think they just want a ping pong partner. What an absolute joke.

  5. NickelandDime

    Aw, OP, this sucks. I know it’s disappointing, especially during very long job searches. Take heart in the fact that they must have been impressed with you to want to talk to you about two separate roles. You are probably a very strong candidate!

    I still think the economy isn’t the greatest, even though it isn’t as bad as it has been the past few years. It’s still taking good candidates in many industries a long time to find roles. I’m currently looking and jobs aren’t plentiful. I keep plugging ahead because I know there is something good out there for me. And there is for you too!

    Also, I’m a minority too (and I’ve been through long job searches), so I’m going to say this. And I’ve been dinged for doing this before here, but I’m going to do it anyway: Try not to let thoughts of “I’m a minority, I’m an older worker and this is working against me” get into your head too much. Yes, we both know it can be a factor in job searches, but I think the fact that the job market isn’t the greatest is the real issue here. If you let that get into your head too much, you will feel defeated, it will affect your attitude and self-esteem, and this will show in interviews. You know how to move up and past this. You know there are good people and companies out there looking for the right people and don’t care about age or a person being a minority. Focus on finding the right fit for you. We’re rooting for you!

    1. steve g

      I concur with the economy being crappy part, as I’ve been looking for a job for three months and one day in NYC. There are more job listings than there were but not as many as there should be. Every employer seems to be looking for something VERY SPECIFIC in a way I didn’t experience in past job hunts. I’ve also gotten the feeling that some jobs were nice-to-haves and not we-must-fill jobs, either because I’ve been seeing the same job ads with reasonable requirements getting reposted and reposted since I knew a layoff was coming back in october, or because the orgs were small enough to scroll through their linkedin employees and I didn’t find a person with the title or a similar one.

      Also, the lone wolf comment doesn’t make sense to me, it sounds like the employer equivalent of “I work well in teams and independently.”. I thought the vast majority of adults did, so there is no reason to point it out.

      1. Adam

        The economy has definitely morphed what employers are looking for when it comes to hiring. Unless you’re in a field that’s fairly specialized it seems like a lot of employers, whether by necessity or opportunity, are embracing the the mantra of “Do more with less,” and are looking for job seeking chameleons who can do any number of things on a moment’s notice.

        My own job is quite a bit different from what it was when I was first hired into it, and were I to leave it and they re-list the position it would probably read so differently I wouldn’t have been in the running for the same job back when I was looking for one. It would probably still pay the same though. :P

        1. NickelandDime

          I agree with Steve G and Adam on what folks are seeing in today’s job search. Yes, there are more jobs, but not like before the recession. And employers are being way picky and taking much longer to make decisions. I also think there are a lot of folks out there that are underemployed – they took jobs after layoffs out of necessity and they are still out there looking. It’s an Employer’s Market with lots of strong candidates.

          The current Job Market is not for the Faint of Heart. And the only people that don’t see this are people not actively looking!

          1. Steve G

            And 5 weeks into my job search, I was already being asked what I had been doing since I left past co. At a time when I also got a new house and was really busy pulling out moldy carpets and spending hours a day bundling up construction waste. Even if I hadn’t been doing that, 5 weeks into a job search is way too soon to be asking that question!?! It’s like, have you been to America in the past 8 years hiring manager?

            1. Cupcake

              @Steve G: 5 weeks? What the hell?

              You’ve barely filled out & completed unemployment paperwork at this point. Instead, people are expecting to hear that you’ve had multiple interviews & 75 leads towards new jobs!

            2. YandO

              “And 5 weeks into my job search, I was already being asked what I had been doing since I left past co.”

              Crying and eating ice cream? Turning off my cable and trimming my expenses? Drinking myself to sleep? Gambling away my severance package?

              WTF, what kind of answer are they looking for? I’ve been applying to jobs, just like this one, in hopes to be employed again.

              1. fposte

                Seriously. Are they expecting to hear “On Day Two, I opened my own consulting business”?

                1. Steve G

                  Basically:-). Not to mention that they were leaning towards a salary about $13K less than I made last year, which I’m OK with, but nevertheless, I wanted to say “well I wasn’t dying to take jobs lowballing salaries two seconds after leaving a job where I haven’t taken a full week off in 8 months and had been working 10-11 hrs/day.” But I didn’t say that.

            3. Adam

              Sure, technically you can do a lot in 5 weeks after leaving a job, but I’d like to think the answer to that one would be fairly obvious.

              1. De Minimis

                I’m wondering what my experience is going to be this time around…last time I was looking it was during the recession in one of the hardest hit regions in the country [they are still at 10-11% unemployment and it’s considered good news.] This time it will be in an area that allegedly has a strong job market, but also with a lot of people and more competition for jobs. But I also have experience this time that I didn’t have last time.

                I think Alison said a while back that they want to hear you’re doing something that will make you a better candidate for them. My plan is to focus on getting my CPA license reactivated [doing a lot of online self-study.]

              2. Seattle Writer Girl

                5 weeks? Geez.

                During my recent job hunt last year (2014), I was telling a former co-worker about how I started a temp gig within 6 weeks after I quit my last job (took me about 6 months total to land something full-time and permanent) and his response was:

                “6 weeks? It only took me 2 weeks to find a new job after I got laid off from our Shared Company!”

                Did I mention he had been laid off several years in 2007?

                1. The Strand

                  I could say something here about how he was laid off for several years when the economy was good implies he actually *isn’t* a great catch, which explains the competitive-sounding comment… Most people would probably say, “New job? Congrats Seattle Writer Girl!”

                  Of course being laid off for a while can sometimes mean absolutely nothing about how good you are, or your approach. I have an in-law whose career went up in smoke with the collapse of the telecom market. He was a great person and just couldn’t find a way to a solid job without retraining in an entirely new direction. (I’m really proud of what he accomplished, actually. My relative married a good guy.)

                  But you FEEL like you’re crap if you’re not working, especially if you’re American and buy into the whole “what you do is who you are” thing. And then you zing someone you used to work with to make yourself feel better about being out of work for a long while.

          2. Cupcake

            You’ve got that right: you have to be a tough cookie to face the job market or you’ll get eaten alive.

            So many companies are being extremely picky with their “requirements” and really do take a long time to hire. Despite already being employed, I was actively searching for the past 13 months for a better role and I finally got hired at what I think will be a much better fit, starting June 1.

            During the past year, I had many interviews, some with outright rejections, others where I never heard back at all. And it does suck and do a number on your self esteem. It hurts to make it to round 4 of interviews, all while being told what a great candidate you are and then they hire somebody 15 years younger than you.

            OP: keep your chin up and keep looking. It may take a while, but you will find a company that can see and appreciate your talent. :0)

        2. Jax

          I’ve been on a mission to step down from full-time to part-time for about a year. I’m looking for a part-time admin role and I’ve been on 4 interviews with no offers. Since I’m polished, friendly, upbeat, have 10+ years experience and a management background I should be a great catch for a company.

          Either they are intimidated by me (heehee-this boosts my ego) or there are LOTS of great candidates in the pool or this job is only available for a mythical unicorn candidate and they aren’t going to hire until they find her. I think it’s a combo of B and C. My interviews have been panel interviews with lots of questions fired at my head, down the line and back up again, for an hour. I’m really surprised at that much screening for a $12.00 per hour part-time job.

          TL:DR – I’m having trouble finding someone to hire me as A STEP DOWN. It’s definitely a changed landscape out there.

        3. Melissa

          Yeah, I’ve noticed that myself – they want a purple squirrel/unicorn who can do everything. In fact, the field I’m applying in actually has a joke about wanting a unicorn who can do every aspect of the field rather than specialists who can work together on a team to do stuff together.

          1. Adam

            I want to ask if they’ve ever actually seen any of these alleged unicorns in the wild. If so it renews my hope that I’ll track down one of those elusive pot o’ gold toting leprechauns.

            1. Steve G

              I agree. I’m also disturbed by many of the “must have 5+years as a Salesforce Administrator” requirements in Sales Ops Analyst roles, because 1) most companies only have 1 official admin, and that doesn’t mean other people don’t know it, and 2) Salesforce is still pretty new. Lower your expectations employers!

              Sort of a side rant, but just another example of how the search for the purple unicorn is making all of our job hunts a PITA

          2. Tau

            It is possible I rubbed my hands together and gave an evil chuckle when I saw the job that rejected me for not having enough experience being readvertised.

            …well, not really. For one, I decided after the interview I didn’t want the job anyway; for another, despite that it smarted to realise they’d rather take no candidate over me. But it is kind of reassuring to see the unicorn-esque job postings or the ‘entry-level’ ones that want you to have expert skills in A-Z and two years’ experience get readvertised. Goes to show it’s not *that* much of an employer’s market in my area and gives me hope for the positions I’ve applied for where I don’t *quite* meet requirements.

            1. The Strand

              I’d prefer to blame the Dippy Hiring Manager who just kept digging for Jo-Jo Perfect Candidate, who can service all their needs and make good coffee, instead of Ms./Mr. More Than Adequate Can Learn Everything in 6 Weeks.

    2. Melissa

      I’m also a minority and I concur with the last part especially. There’s actually some research out there supporting that – mostly done with racial/ethnic minorities, primarily African Americans, but it’s akin to stereotype threat. The research found that minority group members who expect to experience discrimination and prejudice from perceivers inadvertently act in subtle ways that confirm negative stereotypes about them, or at the very least come off guarded, stiff, anxious – basically, as an out-group member. The stress of remaining vigilant to cues of discrimination/prejudice (while evolutionarily adaptive) also creates sometimes awkward behavior on the part of the minority interviewee.

    3. catsAreCool

      “they must have been impressed with you to want to talk to you about two separate roles.” This is what I was meaning to say. I agree.

  6. Vin Packer

    I just want to add that I think this hiring manager owed this candidate a little more explanation. Between the weird feedback snafu the first time around and the fact that this was their second or third conversation, a boilerplate rejection voicemail is cheap.

    That’s not actionable for the OP, of course. Just expressing some solidarity.

    1. LBK

      Eh, I dunno. If the explanation was the same – we found a more qualified candidate – I don’t know what else they can say. Frustratingly simple as it may be, it’s still often the most accurate answer.

      1. Vin Packer

        I think a few more details than just “more qualified” are in order, at least. And perhaps something to indicate to the OP how she should behave toward them going forward–will they keep her in mind for future positions? Should she apply again for something else (and if so what kind of thing)? Or would they prefer to part ways and not hear from her again?

        Any of these things would be way more helpful than just a basic “thank you for your interest, blah blah.”

        1. Vin Packer

          To be clear, I think they could be forgiven for giving strange, contradictory vague answers the first time around when pressed for feedback–tactful feedback is hard to give, and it happens. But after round 2, I feel like it’s time to cut the crap and just be honest, and if you can’t do that, don’t bring the OP in a second time.

          1. LBK

            I still don’t really agree. The only time I think a candidate is owed more detailed feedback is if they’re internal, because then it folds into the company’s responsibility to help develop that person as an employee. Even if you apply 100 times, I don’t think you’re ever owed more than a “Thanks for applying, we went with someone else,” because the company isn’t obligated to either hire you or help you figure out how to get hired.

          2. LBK

            And furthermore, I don’t understand the implication that saying someone else was more qualified wasn’t honest. Saying to “cut the crap and just be honest” implies there’s something shady or unspoken happening here that they’re lying to the OP about.

            1. BRR

              Every hiring decision I have been a part of (albeit few) came down to somebody else was more qualified or we don’t think you’re qualified enough. There can be the specific examples but that’s how hiring managers get argued with after the decision is made. There’s not a ton of hidden reasons despite those stupid articles that say a person picks candidates depending on if the heel of their shoe is scuffed.

              1. Colette

                Yeah, I don’t think more information is requires, unless the organization wants to give it. Some people will take specific feedback as an opportunity to change your mind, even though the job is gone. Other times, there’s nothing really helpful to share (e.g. another candidate really hit it off with the manager, or previously worked with someone on the team, or went to a school the director loves).

            2. Vin Packer

              I kind of think you’re nitpicking my word choice here. By “honest” I guess I meant “forthright”–is that better? I’m talking about the difference between answering “how are you?” with “fine, and you?” and “terrible, actually.” Generally, you shouldn’t be expected to answer a question like that super thoroughly. But there are contexts where it makes sense.

              To me, the second time you reject a good candidate by just a smidge is one of those times where being more revealing is kinder than the polite, standard language.

              1. LBK

                But I think you’re still assuming that there was something other than another candidate being more qualified that occurred – forthright, honest, straightforward, whatever term you want to use is still implying that “another candidate was more qualified” is somehow inaccurate. Do you mean a more *specific* explanation?

          3. AnonAnalyst

            I don’t know, I think this is really hard and my experience on the hiring side is that often there isn’t anything more specific or actionable they could tell her.

            Case in point: my team recently hired someone new. The process came down to two candidates. Both were highly qualified in a related field, but neither had direct experience in our field. The sense was that both could do the job, and personality-wise, both were good: they were both friendly and polite, and both seemed eager and interested in our work and our team.

            Our team ended up debating which candidate we wanted to make an offer to on and off for a week. In the end, we hired Candidate A because there was a slight feeling that, personality-wise, he would be a better fit with our team. But there was nothing that Candidate B did wrong – he didn’t come in and like swear at us or act rudely toward anyone in the company or other specific actions you could call out in the feedback. He did everything right in all of his interactions with us, and there was nothing else he could have done to get the job, short of being Candidate A. Had Candidate A not been in the mix, we probably would have hired him.

            Candidate B didn’t ask us for feedback, but if he had the response probably would have sounded a lot like the feedback the OP got because there isn’t really anything else we could have pointed to that he could improve.

            1. fposte

              Yeah, I once had a great feedback-that-wasn’t-really-feedback talk with a candidate we could have gone with but we went another way. I gave him a few tips on interviewing (it was an early career position) but said truthfully that those things didn’t affect our decision–they were just things he might want to think about for the future–and that it was just how we saw the fit at the time.

              And then when we had an unexpected other opening I called him in and hired him. Which worked out great.

              1. Vin Packer

                Cool! But what if you’d called him, but didn’t end up hiring him for the same reasons? Would you have just said a standard, “thank you but we chose to go in another direction” or been more candid, at least acknowledging the fact that it’s the second time around and that makes it harder?

            2. Vin Packer

              Right, totally fine. But, if you put candidate B through that process twice, and felt the same way both times, I think you should at least try to give him something to work with. Especially if candidate B -did- ask for feedback the first time around.

    2. Fuzzy

      I don’t think the rejection was boilerplate at all. If OP had answered the phone, it would have been a rejection conversation. The hiring manager probably had to make a few of those calls.

    3. BRR

      I’m not sure what they should have added. I think the hiring manager handled everything really well by getting back soon and letting the OP know politely they were not moving forward. I think this way because in this situation the OP was cut a little early the first time and nothing more than that.

      They weren’t jerked around or lead on. A year and a half passed and they thought the OP was still a good candidate. In most fields it’s a buyer’s market.

  7. Snarkus Aurelius

    Hey this happened to me too!  I was mad about it for a couple of years until I learned that both times an internal candidate was hired.  Even though my ten minute interviews were there just to fill a quota, I didn’t take it personally.  How could I?  (I also learned that when interviews are 10-15 minutes long with two questions that means they’re going through the motions.)

    Regarding your experience, it sounds like they also had no idea what they wanted.  That explains the lone wolf vs. solitary setting BS.  That’s pretty common, although it really shouldn’t be.  Bonus: it’s also not your fault.  

  8. fposte

    It’s so much more painful to be close and not get it, isn’t it? My sympathies to you, OP.

    But being at a university in a small town, we see the same people come up more than once for jobs, and we interview them again because we think they’re strong and possible candidates each time. If you made it to the interview stage, they liked you; they weren’t going to go to all that trouble for somebody who wasn’t a real possibility. Remember, most of the people who get called in for an interview get rejected–that’s a standard part of the process–and if they knew before the interview that they didn’t want you, it’s a lot easier to reject you along with the other screened-out candidates than it is to interview you.

    I get the feedback you got is confusing, but honestly, with solid finalists, feedback often isn’t actionable or even really representative; I think you were probably in a situation where they just thought the chosen candidate had a more compelling package rather than you having any significant deficits. The feedback in a situation like that can be a little random.

    1. BRR

      Getting interviews is such a good thing when it’s more than once. It means they think you could be a good fit. If you didn’t get an interview, that would mean they wouldn’t want you to work for them.

    2. LBK

      This is a great point – that often post-interview feedback isn’t actionable, especially for candidates that did well and where it really came down to each person’s qualifications. It might be a psychological relief to know that the person that got hired had more experience, but that’s not going to prepare you to do anything differently next time around.

    3. Beezus

      If the OP got feedback that she seemed like too much of a lone wolf the first time, she may have tried to play up her social side a little more the second time, and that may have led the team to think she was too socially driven to be happy in the job the second time.

      Honestly, I would just conclude from this that the organization (or maybe just this hiring manager) is very focused on social fit in particular in their hiring process. I wouldn’t necessarily let this stop me from applying and interviewing with them again, but I’d probably try to dig into what they consider a good social fit for the position, and think about/try to illustrate how I matched up with what they’re looking for.

    4. catsAreCool

      I know someone who didn’t get selected for 2 or 3 positions at the same company before getting hired by that company. The first few times, a more qualified candidate got the job, but the manager thought this person would be a good hire and encouraged him. Eventually, he did get hired by the company.

      Being encouraged to apply again is a good sign.

  9. Adam

    Hiring is frustrating on both sides of the aisle, and this sounds like another case of many possible candidates but only one position.

    Hiring isn’t personal on the employer’s side. Unless you got the one hiring manager who has some weird grudge against you, that was bad enough for her to be willing to waste her own time to bring you in just to get your hopes up, they interviewed twice in two separate unrelated hiring processes and both times some other candidate ended up being a better fit in their minds. They didn’t want to disappoint you. A lot of good hiring managers hate having to reject good candidates when they don’t have a position for them, but it’s just a sucky fact of the deal.

    It’s not personal for them, but oh Lord do I know how it can feel personal to you. You may really want this particular job. You may be desperate for a better income. You may be bored out of your mind in your current job. You may be tired of working in a place that’s required to post hand-washing guidelines by the sink. And so many other reasons why you’re currently in a not particularly friendly job market.

    When so much of our identity and self-worth gets tangled up in what we do for a living, it’s REALLY hard to not take things personally if you’ve been searching for a long time and missed out on a job you wanted or have been stuck in position where you’re floundering. Most of my friends couldn’t tell you exactly what it is I do for a living because I don’t feel my job is worth talking about in great detail.

    Sometimes I feel like giving job hunt advice is just as awkward as giving dating advice because what is true is often the last thing a person wants to hear. And in this case “Keep putting your best self out there and eventually the right opportunity will come along,” while true is just not very inspiring.

    Don’t give up! I’m sure other posters will have more helpful things to say, but we all are rooting for you to find your next job soon.

    1. Cath in Canada

      “You may be tired of working in a place that’s required to post hand-washing guidelines by the sink.” – I’m confused because I’ve never worked somewhere that doesn’t do this, from retail, food-service and bar jobs during university to all of my professional jobs. Maybe it’s because I work for healthcare organisations with labs in the building…

      1. Adam

        My experience was I only saw these when I worked at places that serve food and drinks. Aside from that (since I’ve never worked in any sort of health care environment) I never see those signs. I don’t think I even saw them in retail.

      2. fposte

        I was going to say that maybe Canada’s cleaner, but maybe Canadians just need more reminders :-).

  10. De Minimis

    Things can change, too…I’m leaving my job and there’s a good possibility that the person who was my competition during the interview process will end up being my eventual replacement.

    1. Malissa

      That is exactly what happened when I left my last job. They hired the person who was a very close second to me in the last round of interviews. It’s not that they didn’t like her, at the time I was the better candidate.

  11. Malissa

    OP–You have my sympathy. My current search has been going on for over 18 months now. It’s a very tough market.
    In a recent interview I got asked about how a work in a team and that went into a fairly long and detailed conversation. Then the hiring manager said, “Well most of the time you’ll be working alone.” I honestly think that some hiring managers have no idea what they actually want, until they see it.
    On the good side they are getting back to you and giving you good feedback, which is truly rare.

    1. Adam

      I honestly think that some hiring managers have no idea what they actually want, until they see it.

      I think this is true. I think a lot of times hiring managers form their opinions on what is currently needed in a position based upon the employee who last left it. If the length of employment was considerable a degree of comfort may have set in and the hiring manager may not have an “Ah ha!” realization of wanting to go in a different direction until they start seeing what sort of candidates their search is bringing in.

    2. Stitch

      I had an interview like this! Where the interviewer seemed to draw a conclusion that you are opposite to their desired characteristic just because of the way you answered a separate question. Their logic doesn’t always make sense to me when they make jumps like “You said you work well in teams, therefore you don’t work well alone.”

      I forget the exact question, but we were talking about how I grew up a military dependent, so I like a certain amount of organization (i.e. when we travel, I always make sure to scope the situation, make note of inflexible limitations like return dates, etc. This translates into how I manage time and projects, making plans and organizing around structured limitations.) She then asked – with a bit of an accusatory tone – “So then you find it difficult when projects change?” And I’m just sitting there, a little bit dumfounded, because if my experience has taught me ANYTHING it’s that planning helps you be MORE flexible in changing situations, not less. I probably would have responded better if her logic didn’t seem so contradictory to me.

  12. Oryx

    About six months ago I interviewed with an organization I had a long history with but from many, many years ago (like, it was my high-school part time job). Ultimately, I didn’t get this new professional position which was disappointing of course but about a month ago the hiring manager reached out to me to see if I was interested in another similar position they had open.

    I ended up passing on the opportunity to interview (the salary would have been a substantive pay cut that I couldn’t justify with a long commute so I didn’t want to waste either of our times) but I also knew it was just that — an interview. I wasn’t guaranteed the job, she just knew that I was a strong candidate before and would be a strong candidate this time. It’s entirely possible that I could have gone through the whole interview process again and STILL not have been hired. That’s just how it works.

    The pool of people is going to be different each time around. People who weren’t looking for a job before and thus didn’t apply originally will start applying now. For the company, it’s a business decision and they want to interview multiple people to afford them the best opportunity of finding the person best fit for the job. It might be you or it might be someone else who sends in their application this time around.

    Also, now that I’ve started to see the other side of the hiring process thanks to my current job I have a MUCH better appreciation and positive outlook for how the whole thing works. They aren’t going to ask to interview you unless they consider you a serious candidate, but you’re just one of many serious candidates.

  13. Solid B student

    I apologize in advance to all of the people I am about to offend:

    I have been in situations similar to what has been described by some of the commenters here. I did not get the job and when I subsequently looked up who they did hire, I did a “WTF!” The selectee had less experience & less relevant experience. The only factors that seemed to be more favorable than what I offered was that the selectee was younger, male-er and paler. Although it may seem otherwise here, I do not go in to interviews with a chip on my shoulder and I interview really well. I know that there are 30,000 random reason why someone may be selected over me. Unfortunately, sometimes age, sex and race are among those 30,000 reasons, subconsciously or otherwise.

    1. Kasia

      Or maybe they had a better personality than you/got along with the interviewer better than you did. In the same way you’re saying the interviewer(s) are judging you by your appearance, you’re judging the candidate that was selected. There is no way for you to know why the person they hired was a better fit than you based on their appearance and whatever qualifications they list on their linkedin.

      1. Jo

        I agree Solid B can’t know why the younger paler male was hired over her. However, aside from this specific story, I want to point out generally that many people feel someone has a “better personality” or is “easier to get along with” when they share certain characteristics with that person, such as age, race, and gender. And this goes both ways in the interviewer/candidate or boss/employee relationship.

        Again, there’s no way to know from the outside if that’s happened in any particular case, but there is a reason employment disparities continue to exist despite most people basically agreeing on the idea of equality.

    2. NickelandDime

      But we all know thems the breaks sometimes, and there is nothing you can do to control that. You focus on what you can control. You also take into account the tight job market and other factors. It’s NOT good out there! It’s not as bad as it was, but it’s not where it was before.

      You keep on keeping on. Period.

    3. Retail Lifer

      When the selectee has less experience, the employer can pay them less. I’ve only had one potential employer be honest with me and tell me that was why I didn’t get the job (someone else was willing to take $5000 less), but I have a feeling it’s come up more often than once.

        1. Jax

          No, no! That’s a really good point! It’s also another reason why laying a salary range on the table UP FRONT makes the most sense. I don’t want to be passed over because a company *thinks* they can’t afford me and I don’t want to waste my time on two interviews only to find out the pay is laughable.

      1. NickelandDime

        Absolutely employers do this! I’ve come across jobs I applied for, and then found out they didn’t want to pay for the experience and skills I have. They called just to see if they could get me on the cheap.

    4. LBK

      That’s certainly true, but I also think there’s little personal benefit in going down that line of thinking unless you had some other clues from the process that prejudice was guiding their decision. You can’t know for sure, and I think it will be hard to be level-headed in each interview if you go into it feeling disadvantaged by your race/gender/age/etc (even though statistically speaking you probably are). You weren’t sitting in that candidate’s interviews and you didn’t see that candidate’s resume – and therefore I think it’s healthier for yourself mentally to assume in those situations that the person who got the job over you was a rockstar prodigy genius who blew the hiring manager away, because then it’s easier to move forward to other opportunities thinking of yourself as a highly viable candidate instead of someone who will always get screwed out of jobs by young white dudes.

      1. LBK

        And note: this is purely about individual thought processes and your own job hunt. Big picture, I think it’s absolutely critical that we try to weed out the systematic prejudice that occurs in hiring. But for your own personal livelihood, fighting societal battles isn’t going to pay your rent if you’re unemployed.

      2. Adam

        Speaking as a young white dude who has yet to land a job throughout my working life that has been better than “ok” I agree that mindset is everything even when there are definite inequities that give you a steeper hill to climb than what others may face. It is totally valid to be angry at a broken system and advocate for changing it, but unfortunately we often have to compartmentalize that anger for the sake of getting our bills paid.

        I will say I am sympathetic though to how hard that upwards mentality can be to maintain. To my understanding if you are part of a minority demographic in a culture where the subject of racism and various other -isms are a hot-button issue, eventually it can be really hard to come out of a situation that didn’t turn out the way you were hoping and not at least wonder if your minority status may have affected things somehow, even if you have no evidence indicating so. And these days you’ll often never know.

        Sometimes you just really have to keep plugging away despite that persistent voice in the back of your mind.

        1. Vin Packer

          I have to say, based on your first 6 words I was expecting this comment to go in another direction! Thanks for surprising me, and making me think twice next time. And for this awesome comment.

  14. Mena

    The OP is making this all about him/herself and forgetting that the hiring manager is trying to hire the best person for the job; and the hiring manager went with someonone else. I think it is wrong to assume that the role and the nonprofit itself are the ‘same’ as when you interviewed previously. Even if the role is the same, the organization is not – organizations and their participants change every day. And since OP doesn’t mention anything specific about age or minority status influencing the interview process, I’m unsure why it is even brought up.

  15. Dang

    I’ve had a similar experience, OP. A year and a half after I’d been rejected, the hiring manager got another job and called me, told me how impressed she’d been with me, and hoped I didn’t think it was weird but she was hiring for a bunch of new positions.

    I had a phone interview and then an in person interview with her team, where she was very complementary and talked about how impressed she was with me.

    And then I never heard anything. I got an email that the job was filled (automated from HR) and inquired about whether the other positions were still open, and she said I was still being considered and she was so glad I was still interested.

    Then I never heard from her again.

    I took it SO PERSONALLY for a few days/weeks, and wish I hadn’t. In the end, I decided I’d take it as a good sign that an interviewer remembered me enough to call me and interview me again after a long time had passed. I definitely felt led on, which I guess is natural, but I decided I shouldn’t take it personally, otherwise I’d just feel bad about myself and nothing good comes from that.

    So I know it’s hard, but try to take it as a positive sign. They were interested in you enough to meet with you again and it just didn’t work out, for whatever reason. Something else will come along.

  16. Kyrielle

    Very much this! I would take the fact that she realized you were a previous candidate and wanted to talk to you as a very strong positive. Employers haven’t got time to waste on this stuff either – if they call you in, it’s because they think you might be The One To Hire, based on all the data they have (including prior interviews). But if they were certain of it, they’d just make you an offer, not have you in to interview. So they interview you and others, and it ends up that someone else is better for the position (or they get overruled, or the funding gets cut, or…) and you don’t get the job.

    Take this as gracefully as you can and don’t burn bridges, because it’s totally possible that you’ll be the one hired at the next opening of that type, if they like you that well. (We had a candidate we _asked back_ for a second interview, one of two in that round that were callbacks plus a couple new faces. He didn’t get the job…complained about it…and thus wasn’t called when we had a third opening the next month. For which I _suspect_ we would have called and made an offer without another interview – he was close behind the person who did get hired. Until he complained – and not in a polite way – anyway.)

  17. Caroline

    Just expressing solidarity – this happened to me a few years ago when I was also going through a very long job hunting process (ended up taking me 2-3 years to find a new position, which ended up being for the best since throughout that time, the type of job I wanted ended up drastically changing). Except THEY asked ME back. First time around, I applied, they brought me in, looooong interview with the Managing Director – they told me my experience wasn’t quite right. They hired someone, who left quite shortly after, then they called me back in to interview for the position. Again, loooooooong interview with the MD. Once again, didn’t get it. Ultimately it was a bullet dodged because it was NOT the direction I ended up wanting to go in career-wise. Intellectually I know Alison’s advice is right, but emotionally, I know where you’re coming from. I was very annoyed and frustrated, and I still sometimes make snarky comments (in jest of course) about the organization.

  18. Joey

    My wife was asked back twice and wass interviewed and rejected a total of three times for the same job.

    I’ve called back a number of folks and in most cases it was always someone with strong skills but that didn’t happen to wow me and I was giving it another go.

  19. ARMD

    After spending a few months reading this blog daily, this is the first time that I’ve commented on a post. I hope that my situation will help you. I’m about to finish my PhD and have been searching for jobs for a while. The work that I want to do is in policy research, and the jobs are limited and quite competitive. Though I have relevant work experience and education, I kept getting rejected from the jobs I applied for. There was one company in particular that I wanted to work for- I really admire the work that they do and I think that I am a great fit for the organization. In total, this place rejected me on three different occasions for jobs that I interviewed for (two of the jobs I applied for, and one that they requested I interview for without applying). Anyway, rather than feeling bad about being rejected- or wondering if I was being discriminated against (I wasn’t)- I focused on ways to make myself more marketable. I managed to get hired as a research contractor for this organization and I participated in a very elite, competitive summer internship program with an affiliate. Since I’m graduating soon, I’ve started to focus more on getting a job lined up and I’ve become a very dedicated reader to this blog. After many rounds of interviews, and more rejections from other organizations, I ended up getting THREE job offers at the same time. In fact, the company that had rejected me three times previously offered me TWO separate jobs in their organization. I literally had my pick of jobs at an organization that had rejected on multiple occasions. I ended up accepting an offer with my preferred institution, and will be making a cross-country move to Washington, DC next week. So try to learn something from your rejection, give yourself a competitive edge, AND read every single post in this blog, even ones you think might not be relevant. Seriously- this blog has been a fantastic resource for me!!

  20. Megs

    This can be so frustrating but I agree with the comments above – unless you have a specific reason to think you’re being messed with, being called in and rejected twice just means that although you were a good candidate, someone else was better. So far in my own search, I’ve interviewed with one office three times (called back once) and another office twice (called back both times). And if either has another opening, I’m absolutely applying again. The market is tough and it’s very depressing, but I wouldn’t be getting the interviews if I wasn’t on the right track.

  21. OP

    I guess “OP” is my new handle, I kind of like it.

    First, I want to thank everyone who took the time to read my letter and comment, I appreciate the feedback. My biggest take away is not to take the second, or even the third rejection personally. And normally I don’t react too much at all, but this time felt different for some reason. However, your comments gave me needed doses of both reality, and comfort in lot of instances.

    The other thing I want to address are the comments about me bringing up being minority and older. I did not cite those things to say that was part of this situation at all. I don’t believe they were. But I did bring them up because I believe these are factors that I need to be cognizant of in my search.

    When I see that Silicon Valley, which is not too far away, on average has something like 2% of workers in both technical and non technical roles from certain minority groups it is something to factor in since I am in the tech field. I have been in numerous situations, even currently, where I am the only staff person of a particular minority so it normally isn’t anything I dwell on. But held up against the macro statistics means it needs to be at least considered.

    Also it is simply a fact that older workers don’t get hired as frequently as their younger counterparts. Couple that with anecdotal stories from friends who happen to be older, who I think are way more qualified than me, who have been looking even longer, and this is something that I have to at least consider as a possibility as well. If all things are equal could that be what tips the balance? I’ll never know but it is something that has to be thought about.

    But the volume and depth of some of your responses are inspiring. If nothing else this episode has exposed me to a informed, supportive community, who have a pretty strong sense of the challenges of the job search overall. In this particular instance some of those challenges led me to “vent” to someone I didn’t even know just to get it out. Even if I didn’t get the job, I got something pretty valuable out of the experience I think.

    1. Blerp

      I really feel for you OP. I will also note that if you are in the Bay/Silicon Valley the job market is insanely competitive, which I’m sure you already know. It’s just a reminder you are going up against a significant amount of other qualified candidates in a really tight market. I was there for 6 years working part time jobs before finally moving to LA for a full time job. It totally warped my perspective on my value I could bring to a position because I just could not for the life of me find anything. Good luck!!!

    2. LBK

      I guess I’m not clear on why you feel you need to be cognizant of hiring prejudice when you’re applying for jobs – when it’s something so inherent, there isn’t really anything you can do about it on an individual basis. To me, being cognizant implies you’re using that piece of knowledge to guide you in some way. For example, I’m cognizant of the fact that I tend to ramble in interviews and therefore I consciously keep my answers concise while I’m interviewing; it’s something I can change, so it behooves me to be aware of it. Can you elaborate on why you think it’s necessary to keep minority hiring practices in mind, or how that influences the way you operate during your job search? I can only imagine it bringing negativity into your mindset.

  22. MDJ

    Yes, interviewers do mess with you, especially if they happened to be state university systems.

    The first time I experienced this, the limited term employment job I held for three years while a non-traditional college student was going to be converted into a full-time state job. There was a ringer, the administrator’s god-daughter, who had no experience in the field. I would have had to apply a job I’d been actually held (just at the “temporary” level) while she would have gotten hired for it. I really wanted this job, but I had no choice but to seek another. As it turns out, the young woman hired has done a fine job and she still holds the job many years later. But it bothered me that the university system tolerated this charade.

    About a decade later, I was living in another town and applied for a similar job at another branch of the same university system. Again, there was a ringer. But I didn’t know that the day I interviewed, taking off time from work to go to the interview. The next day, a friend in the same line of work told me she’d received a call from someone who said she had been promised the job and would be starting in about a month. As it ends up, the caller did get the job and stayed at it for several years.

    It may well be that both of these ringer candidates were better suited to the jobs than I was. But I feel for any candidate who goes to a job interview because the company or the system requires interviews, even when a candidate has been promised the job in questions, or has a leg up on the competition.

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