Dear Deb: Great Interview, No Offer
Dear Deb: Great Interview, No Offer
Dear Deb:

I’m extremely frustrated. Over the last three weeks, I had a series of very successful interviews with a company that is a major player in my industry. They even flew me out to the west coast to meet the development team I would be working with. Before traveling out to the west coast, the hiring manager coached me on each of the people I’d be meeting with, gave me some intel into the key issues the team is facing, and told me point blank, ‘You are the only candidate we are pursuing right now.” 

So, imagine my shock and horror when I opened my email to find a boilerplate “thanks, but no thanks” note from them! What went wrong? What could I have done differently? 

Thanks, in advance,

Dear Jane:

The fact is that you don’t have an offer until you have an offer. What could have gone wrong? Anything. Or nothing. Reasons people do not get hired vary wildly, and can range from the completely valid to the absurd. Some of the reasons I’ve seen people NOT hired:
  • “Used too many big words,” and the hiring manager thought that meant the candidate was being condescending.
  • “Wants too much money,” because the candidate asked for market rate compensation.
  • Reminded someone on the hiring team of a former coworker he disliked.
  • Didn’t like candidate’s voice.
  • Candidate was “too energetic” for the team.
  • Too experienced.
  • Had to hire CFO’s nephew instead.
  • Candidate was sporting designer handbag, which made the hiring manager “suspect that she was high maintenance.”
As you can see, the reasons for rejection are often completely out of your control. What you can control is your response to this rejection. Because you were very invested in this opportunity, and because they incurred the expense of flying you out to meet with the team out of state, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to follow up with both the hiring manager and with HR with a request for feedback. Be sure to frame your request within the context of them doing you a favor, and point out that you are asking only for your own edification. You might not get a response, but you won’t know unless you ask.

Finally, although there are many reasons why an employer will pass on a candidate, the most common is simply that someone else was better. Whatever “better” is, is highly subjective, and the fact that someone else is better is no reflection on you. There is generally more than one strong candidate for every position.

All my best,