Learning From Rejection: The Questions to Ask When You Don’t Get The Job

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When you got cut from your high school chess team, you asked your mom if you could transfer schools.

When you thought that you and that awesome guy were more than just friends — and thought wrong, you spent the next three days in your pajamas.

When you went on an awesome interview, but the job went to another candidate, you vowed to learn the pots and pans and spend the rest of your life as a street performer.

We’ve all been there.

Rejection is just one of those things that, no matter how many times it happens in life, it never gets any easier. However, it doesn’t always have to result in self-loathing and days spent moping around in your pjs. In fact, John Kador, author of “301 Best Questions to Ask on Your Interview,” dedicates an entire chapter of his book to  rejection, and how it can actually have a positive effect on your job search — if you take advantage of it by finding out why you didn’t get the job.

True, it may seem like adding salt to your wound to reach out to the refusing employer and ask “What’s so wrong with me?” However, doing so can also be one of the most rewarding ways to handle a rejection, since any constructive feedback you receive can be applied to your future job search.

Also true, is that positively handling rejection is a lot easier said than done, so below are the top tips for following up with a company that has turned you down, adapted from Kador’s “301 Best Questions to Ask On Your Interview.”

1. Figure out where the recruiter was coming from

Sometimes, you will have a hunch as to why you were rejected. Maybe you were under- qualified, or maybe you set your salary expectations too high. But on those occasions where you were completely blindsided by the rejection, understanding it will take some further investigation.

Usually, this involves contacting the recruiter. Start by sending a simple note. Something like:

“Thank you again for interviewing me. I understand your decision to go with another candidate and I accept your decision. I’d appreciate any feedback you can give me.”

Sometimes, this will be enough to get you a constructive dose of honesty. However, HR departments are often apprehensive to give straightforward feedback these days, due to a fear of lawsuits. But, that doesn’t mean you should just accept their generic response saying “You were great, but the other candidate was better.”

2. Cut to the point

To increase your odds of getting true, useful criticism, take your query one step further, by following up with something along the lines of:

“I need to improve my interviewing skills and I’m asking for your help. I am asking you to be honest about my performance and what I could have done better. If you do, I will make you three promises. First, I promise I will not interrupt you. Second, I promise I will not defend myself. Third, I promise I will not contact you or your company for a year. Will you help me?”

This approach lets the HR rep know that you have no interest in hounding them or pleading your case, and are genuinely interested in honest feedback.  It should also help ease the recruiter’s fear of getting in trouble.

When using this approach, though, be ready to keep your promises or risk putting your reputation with the company — and possibly the industry — on the line.

3. Be gracious

If directly asking the recruiter for interview feedback still seems too intimidating, at least send a thank-you note. Many interviewees discontinue professional niceties when they don’t get the job, but genuinely thanking the interviewer for their time makes a good final impression. If possible, prove your gratitude by:

  • Recommending another good candidate for the position
  • Offering a sales lead
  • Including a link to an article, website or job-board you think the recruiter would find useful
  • Asking if there is anything else you can do for the recruiter or the company

Simple gestures like the ones above will make you stand out to the recruiter, who will be more apt to keep you in mind for future jobs at the company.

Hopefully, you won’t face too much (if any) rejection during your job search, but if you do, the above guidelines will help turn a negative response into a learning experience. Be sure to personalize these steps based on your individual interview situation and what you feel comfortable with.  If you don’t think you can handle hearing a less-than-glowing review from a recruiter without interrupting, you may want to skip step No. 2. For more suggestions on what to ask before, during and after an interview, check out “301 Best Questions to Ask on Your Interview.”

  1. Pingback: http://www.theworkbuzz.com/career-advice/learning-from-rejection-the-questions-to-ask-when-you-dont-get-the-job/ « Michelin Career Center's Blog

  2. I was laid off from a job in the defense industry so an Army officer could give my job to a friend of theirs. Is this legal ?

    • Its illegal, what was the reason for being fired,did you sign a acceptance form or resignation, how long were you serving, surprisingly half the jobs available for picking go to relatives or friends to already employed personnel and this is a global thing.If you think you are clean go see a solicitor

    • We were in the same both, Mike Wells. I was laid off too so my boss could give my job to his GUY friend. What worst was he blame things on me so I could be laid off, like he wasnt think I was the right person for the job. Mind you, I was the one who trained him when he started 5 months ago. I was in the company for a year and half.

      I want to know if this is legal. I know this was immoral.

    • Mike Wells: Companies do this all the time. It is certainly unfair but I don’t know about the legality part of it. I’m sure they use HR to cover their tracks. A friend of mine lost her 13 yr job to a younger person they could paid $6 less to. So, tell me the fairness of that. I would say it is probably very hard to prove, unfortunately.

    • I don’t know if it is legal or not, but if you ask me, I think that that is unfair and you have my sympathy in that situation.

    • @ Mike.. If you can prove it or have someone who can witness to this.. go to a lawyer and see what you can do. It is probably not legal since it is a form of discrimination, and even if you have small chances of winning, they might settle to avoid public embarrassment.

  3. Pingback: Learning From Rejection | N()T3.com

  4. You’ve got to be kidding. Recruiters don’t tell the nine out of ten candidates they are not selected, so why will they respond to phone or email follow-up regarding these same questions, with promises?

    Believe me, I’ve tried and failed to get this feedback 95% of the time.

    Professional Job Seeker

    • I agree 100% I have also graciously and sincerely inquired for advice on how to improve with interview skills or any other feedback to assist with my improvement. Needless to say there were 150 applicants for one position. The company never responded, I guess to reply to the 149 that didn’t get the job would have been overwhelming. On the other hand, how do you say politely that they just preferred some one else?

    • I agree, I have been laid off for 19 months.
      I had a part time job during this time that did not work out, they had to lay me off due to lack of work.
      I am rarely contacted by the interviewer or recruiter after an interview. I always try to get some constructive feedback as to why I did not get the position. I HAVE NEVER had a recruiter respond with any constructive advice. When they do, it is vague. Or I am overqualified for the position.

    • Professional Job Seeker: You are exactly right. Many times, job interviews are nothing more than CYA anyway. They already know who they are going to give the job to, but they have to interview to cover their butts. So, they certainly aren’t going to tell you “what you did wrong” because you probably didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just that politics thing.

  5. While this advice seems to be good, The one flaw is that most HR representatives will not give you any feedback. Our litigious society has made that a can of worms that are just too dangerous for a company to open. If you really want good, honest feedback, get a friend who does interviews or is in HR and go through mock interviews. This way you can get some sincere feedback instead of just a no thank you.

    • I agree, They will not divulge this information due to the risk associated with the “honest” feedback. This has happened to me in the past and it came back to bite me in the rear end.

  6. I applied for a job where a former co-worker was currently working. Once she figured out who I was the totally defamed my character in earshot while I was waiting on a face to face interview. I can prove the statements she made were false however my interview was very short and I have not been able to get a follow-up phone call. The thing that bothers me the most was prior to the face to face interview the hiring manager thought enough of my resume to call me at home while she was on vacation and stated that during the face to face portion of the interview we would discuss which position I wanted with the company. How do I address the potential employer and that particular employee so it does not happen again?

  7. I seriously doubt the author of this article has had any problem getting a job, ive been unemployed for almost two years and like you guys and gals suggested this article may sound inviting, but the reality is employers wont tell you nothing about why you dont get the job. Ive asked numerous times and they either dont repsond at all or just say whatever comes to mind first like someone else was more qualified. that tells me lots. lol

    • Mike, the thing that jumped out at me while I was reading your post, your lack of written English skills. That will put you behind in a job search. I would recommend you have a well written friend go over any correspondence you send to a potential hiring company.

      Many people that would be good employees are weeded out early because they do not present well on paper. Since you are now aware of that, you can take steps to minimize exposure that way.

      If you can get face to face with the interviewer (no small feat in itself) you will do very well.

    • I am an employer, and the truth is we are trained to be very circumspect in sharing why one person is hired and not another. Blame the lawyers for that one. For what it’s worth however, you made two grammar errors in your short response and that does not make a favorable impression.

      • Jon,
        I wouldn’t ask why Employer X hired somebody instead of me. Instead I would ask if my interviewers have any suggestions on what I could have done better during the interview. (If you were given any cards from any of your interviewers, instead of just the HR person, if you had a rapport with one of them it may make sense to ask that individual instead. . . but don’t spam the whole group. Keep your inquiry to one person, or at the most one interviewer and the HR person.)

        Most likely if they respond at all they’ll simply say you weren’t the best match for the position without giving any specific tips. On occasion you’ll actually get a few words of advice. This is more common if you get to an in person interview, or a second or third round of interviews.

        Don’t make a pest of yourself. Thank them even if they do give a generic answer. If they don’t write or call back, let it go.

        • As long as you’re not making a pest of yourself, the worst you’ll get is silence or a generic answer.

          I wouldn’t do this for every phone interview with a recruiter, or even every phone interview with a manager at a company. Everybody, employer and prospective hire alike has a limited amount of time, and that manager probably did quite a few phone interviews for the position, while you will probably need to go through quite a number of phone interviews to get an in person interview. I would make the query for in person interviews.

  8. Try being a 62 year women who was laid off in 2005 for major company, worked a sundry of jobs
    in retail & real estate even grocery. How do I get someones attention to notice my credentials. I am not looking for the same job Ihad 5 years ago. thanks

  9. What color is the sky on their planet? Most HR departments at companies I’ve worked for will only give dates of employment…period. As far as recruiters go, you are lucky if they even bother to call to tell you the job you were submitted for is no longer available. This nicey-nicey approach doesn’t work and in the dog eat dog world goes about as far as you can spit. Don’t waste your time.

    • That’s the truth-don’t even waste your time. Employers are just not that gracious. They simply don’t care about your feelings.

  10. @ Sharon. If you are having difficulty finding a full-time job, you might try to begin a consulting firm of your own. I don’t know what your field is, but I do know that some people have done well starting their own business doing contract work. LinkedIn has supportive groups and forums that address this.

    I was recently part of a hiring search. We went through hundreds of resumes and got down to about a dozen candidates for first interviews.

    Many people got sorted out early on for very basic things: not submitting a cover letter when one was requested, not meeting the experience requirement, addressing the letter to the wrong company… (be VERY careful if you are applying for multiple jobs at once.)

    I totally agree with HR April. Practice interviews!!!! We interviewed some people who were great on paper but interviewed very poorly.

    My two cents:

    If you are not sure where the interview will be, do a practice run beforehand so that you are not late.

    Be polite–to everyone from the admin who sets up the interview to the guy sweeping the stairs outside.

    Prepare for every question that might come your way beforehand. When asked in the interview, stop, think and then answer. Use the answer to show that you are qualified and a good fit and that you have done homework and thought about the job. Do not — do not–ramble on. Silence is not the enemy.

    Do homework on the job and on the company. Note the vocabulary of their world and give it back to them. Bother to read up on strategic initiatives, etc.

    If you keep getting interviews but not jobs, get help with interviewing skills.

    Hope this is helpful! Just my opinions.

  11. Not legal. If you think you can prove it hire a lawyer. Be aware of tactics like changing the job title for the new guy, even if he does exactly the same thing that you did.

    • Good luck. This happened to me, and I DID get a lawyer who was able to do nothing for me but was happy to take my money. You just can’t fight city hall, and it’s a shame that the bogus laws that are there to supposedly protect us are not upheld. Just shows what a waste any kind of government positions are to us taxpayers. The laws are there but not enforced. And once you file an HRV claim, it is almost impossible to be hired again. Yes, I have sour grapes, it is a dog eat dog world out there, and there are no ‘rules’. There is no fairness or honesty. The company that let me go is notorious for this practice. I am not alone, and some of the best of them have been separated from their employment in this manner. It’s almost impossible to find an ethical company to work for anymore.

  12. It,s pretty much over for this country.
    Two wars…none of which will be victorious.
    Jobs …outsourced….no manafacturing base.
    Dawn…you got it right.
    Get the fork out we’re done.

  13. Good Luck. It seems that experience does not make it. I too in 2005, due to downsizing lost my job. It was a Regional Director position. I am still trying to re-enter that field…over qualified and age have been quite the road block.

    • You’re right Mary. Even though there are laws against age discrimination employers can attatch any reason to not hiring you. It would be nearly impossible to prove otherwise. As for the over qualification issue, I’ve interviewed with 2 employers in which the hiring managers straight out told me that I would be threatening their position. Remember your interviewers have egos and will probably put their own needs/fears above the contibutions you could make for their company. With 5 people for every opening employers can be pretty choosy these days. I just keep shooting and know eventually I know I’ll hit the target.

  14. How many search committees does it take to change a lightbulb?

    I don’t mean to be cynical but I have been on at least a dozen (full day) interviews that ended up with the organization not hiring anyone. Then a few weeks or months later, the organization reopens the search.

    Some of these organizations do not even have the courtesy of letting you know by telephone or letter. I have received a few email rejections where you cannot even reply.

    There is just a culture of “bad manners” these days. Highly qualified, successful, experienced and credentialed people spend long hours in preparing for and sometimes traveling to a day long interview. It’s just not fair.

    • I’ve had the same thing happen to me… meaning, a company advertising an open position, applying for it, receiving a rejection, and then several weeks later the same company reposts the same position. This company has posted and reposted this position several times indicating they really don’t need to fill it or, they can’t seem to keep employees.
      Shame on those individuals who clearly do not employ “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

  15. I’ve been unemployed for almost 7 months now, and I still haven’t found a job. I have applied for countless jobs, but I can’t even get a courtesy email or phone call telling me that they’ve chosen another candidate. I keep hearing that I’m either over-qualified or that I don’t have enough experience in my field. Two questions: First, how am I over-qualified for a position? If I can do the job, give me the job and let me work! Second, if I don’t have enough expeirence in my field, how am I supposed to get experience in my field if a company won’t hire me and allow me to get said experience? I have a bachelor’s in computer science. Obviously, it can’t be that difficult for me to learn.

    • I agree! I have a degree in Office Administration. Can’t get hired without experience. Can’t get hired to get needed experience. Why do employers want experienced people anyway. They’ll just end up wanting you to do things their way, so why not hire you without experience and train you?!

    • My daughter just graduated from Nursing School and with all the hoopla about the Nursing shortage, she can not even get an interview. All their posting request “experience” She applies and does not even get an acknowledgment or you were not considered reply.
      Yet, these companies expect a “Thank you” note. She finished with a 3.7, I have never seen the job situation as bad as it is today.

  16. Over-qualified! I’ve run into that also. I can tell if I am overqualified for a job, but if I am interested and willing to take the job and do it…why exclude me on that basis? Especially when you want to work for a particular company. And there is always something to learn in a new position, even if you are overqualified….frustrating as hell.

    • Over qualified, is generally, a polite way of telling someone, “that they are looking for someone younger to fill the position”. They cannot come out and say you are to old for fear of a lawsuit based on age discrimination.

  17. Over qualified…the reason most employers won’t hire an “over qualified” individual is because they don’t want to waste time training and individual for the job to have them give their notice as soon as something”better” comes along- that is more related to their particular field or previous income level, they also view over qualified applicants as someone who will not be happy in that position based on your previous employment histories, education and income levels. So they are content to hire someone with lesser qualifications knowing they may very well be “content” with the position for several months/years.

    • I’d rather be over-qualified than under-qualified – companies should feel that way too. So what, you may move up later on? That will give someone else an opportunity for your position. What on earth is wrong with that. If a company does not want you to progress, then maybe that’s not a company you would really want to work for because they would be holding you back!

  18. Sage advice! Especially the content regarding feedback from the interviewer! It is candid yet gracious.

    There is wisdom that rejection can be the proverbial “lining in the silver cloud.” I speak as someone who was once laid off from a position after many years and received no advance notice.

    Will look up the book.

  19. It’s only human nature to become so cynical after so many rejections and no luck in the job market. I thought I would never be unemployed for almost a year. I prepared myself well by graduating with a college degree and having drive and determination to climb the corporate ladder in my career. I put in 110% in resumes and cover letters. When I do get interviews, I study the company and most importantly myself. I reflect on my personal goals, strengths, weaknesses and past experience. I’ve tried different strategies for interviews; the silence is golden rule, direct approach to JUST simply answering the question, and adding more benefits to a statement and NOTHING. I think the next interview I go into I WILL take a recording device to hear myself.

    The bottom line is, I have tried different things and it is frustrating when you cannot seem to get it right. When you have been unemployed for months, and you are limited on cash, emotions start to surface and that is where you start to doubt yourself. You start to doubt yourself and wonder if you should have said more, less or nothing at all. -A confident person can become a bad interview. This has been a long journey for many, I continue to try different things and I am exhausted. However, I am not depleted. We are living in a day where perseverance is everything. I am not alone. I do not wish this upon no one. Good luck everyone and hang in there.

    • thanks for the kind words Eileen.
      I have just been going through exactly the same things as you. I have tried all interview tips and still have not found the right job after 2 1/2 years.
      This is not the same situation as it has been all of our lives and we now have to adapt and grow with new ways of thinking and living. Learning how to live with less is good for the world.

    • Thank you for your comments Eileen. Like countless others, I am a highly skilled, educated, formerly successful professional with over 15+ years experience who cannot seem to get anything right these days, judging from how I have failed to get a position despite what seemed to be successful interviews for over 20 months now. Over-qualified is only one of the baffling reasons I have also received as reasons for rejection. When I stumbled upon your comment, I was contemplating ending my struggle because I could not see any hope. I was, and still am, overcome with shame at my failure to get employment even for positions that I know I can do with my eyes closed and for which the hiring party acknowledged I could most certainly do. At least for tonight, I promise to forge on and try again tomorrow…Thank you again for the words of perseverance.

    • Eileen, I just came across your encouraging comment. I am struggling to find a job myself after graduation from law school in May, 2012. It has been over 2 years since you posted. I hope you have found a job and been doing well.

  20. I couldn’t agree with all of you any more. I’ve been looking for a job in retail in my area for the last six months and I too have been hearing this “over-qualified” excuse. I did buy this book and several others similar to it and followed the advice; I ran through dozens of mock interviews with professional HR personnel I know, asked family and friends to give me personality feedback and critique my professional look. I have at least 10 versions of my resume and cover letter I can customize to fit the job I am applying for…I Google my directions and locate the building before hand and I make sure to arrive at least 10 minutes early and check-in because they say to show initiative and punctuality at the interview for a “great first impression.”

    The trouble is, companies do not want to waste the time training someone who already has any experience. They want someone who will learn what they want them to do without any fear of thinking, eventhough they put that as a requirement for applicants.

    I tried the “Thank You Note” and follow-up call or email…I was able to get one response; the woman begrudgingly admitted that it was my assumed salary expectation that lost me the job. When I asked her what the starting field compensation was in the Q & A at the end of our initial interview, she dodged it by telling me that it would be discussed if I was offered the position. When I talked to her later, she told me that she felt that my salary expectation for my experience exceeded the designated wage. I made it a point to find out the wage…$16.00 an hour USD…that’s $1.50 more than I made at the time and I told her so! She was baffled and truly embarrassed.

    There are also these niggling litle things that I’ve started to notice about job postings as well. They will say that a “qualified” or “well-qualified” candidate will have experience or connections within the industry they are applying too. One company I recently applied too, a fashion retailer, actually insisted that the PART-TIME SALES ASSOCIATE have connections in the fashion industry that could be contacted! It’s really bad if a company has to put that sort of loop-hole in their posting.

    Interviewers want a qualified candidate who takes initiative, has a customer service orientated personality, can motivate and develop a team, has a mind for business numbers and has some experience in the field…well, at least that’s what they say in their job postings. The reality is far removed from what’s posted.

    • I agree with post on “what color is the sky you’re looking at”. My spouse has been unemployed 2 years ( construction/construction supervisor. He recently applied for a job..Response via email, ” thank your for applying due to the overwhelming response of 4,000 applicants for 1 position we are not able to review them all. Thank you for applying”. I have been able to sporadically work contract only as I was mainly a stay-at-home mom by choice. I have a 4 year communications degree and I have been told I do not have the “skills set” to be a receptionist. Agreed that the author of this article is overall, clueless and looking at the world through long-term employment glasses.

  21. Well, there r many times they just give you a diplomatic answer. It was difficult selecting ..all were good and we had to take one only blah blah !

  22. Just because they do something illegal doesn’t mean they won’t do it or anything will be done about it. My hubby was laid off in 2003. He was a National Guard reservist and his employer told him he was being laid off because they thought he’d be called up to go to Iraq. They grouped him in with a large lay off but he was the only one in his sector or area or position who was laid off. He went to JAG about it and they said “Did you get that in writing?” Yea, the company was full of jerks but they weren’t stupid jerks.

    HR departments won’t tell anyone why they weren’t hired. The SOP is to say they “went in a different direction” or “someone else was more qualified.” I’ve never known of any company to say “Well you should finish your MBA” or even “I would recommend not coming into an interview in torn jeans and a T-shirt.” Not in this millennium anyhow. Maybe in 1950 that worked fine but not anymore.

  23. My son has been looking for a job for almost a year now. He’s very qualified in his field, but is now not a “20-something.” He’s held high executive positions and out of 100 resumes he tells me he has gotten “short listed” for 3 positions, one interview was by e- mail (YES they e-mailed him questions to answer) the other two were by phone.
    He has followed up and not one response. In fact he got so upset with one recruiter that he relisted the job qualifications and what they were looking for and then responded with all of his skills and he was the perfect fit for the job. In other words there was nobody else really who could have been more qualified. Turns out they thought he was too old, they didn’t exactly say that but that’s what was implied.

  24. The real fact is a person gets hired because the person(s) doing the interview likes you. Getting someone to like you in a matter of minutes is the real problem. If anyone finds the key to this please post it. I work in a factory now after being in managemt for years, and the truth was, deep down I couldn’t get anyone else to really like me during an interview for another management position. So, with the funds running low I ripped up my resume filled out an application by hand ( never lied on it) got an interview and the HR person asked me if I thought I could handle the mundane task of factory work during the interview. I said with a big smile (as this was a hiring question) I sure would like to give it try. and I got the job. I’m 50 years old and because he liked me I got the job even though he had his doubts. I still look for other work but don’t feel desperate anymore. You have to be liked before you get the job offer.

    I lost a lot of good interviews because of HR hiring people the already knew( and liked) and gave other companies ideas that they are using now but still didn’t get the job. In such a job market as we have now age and experience is a factor that will keep you from a job unless you are liked.

  25. Sometimes it is no always about the qualification. In an interview drive of say 8 qualified persons, the interviewers, say the HR manager and the departmental manager will look at how the person would fair out in the already existing team of people, the type of industry that the firm is in compared to those you have been in, and sometimes just how you come across as being able to fit in in their world. I remember interviewing 6 people for a job and at the end, more than one were properly qualified, and experienced, but it came down to personality, and social background because of the industry we were in, we had a culture of lively, social, and out there marketing that made it more practical to hire the more younger more energetic and outgoing person. So I guess what I am saying is that it is the total package, not just what you have on paper that will get you the job sometimes.

  26. I finally was hired in a position after searching for over a year, doing all types of jobs to make ends meet. I didn’t submit a resume and cover letter, I did the opposite, I posted an ad on Craigslist outlining my skills and the wage I wanted including benefits. I posted it specifically in my area where I live. I never thought anyone would respond but an employer actually looked up those skills on the internet and called me in. I am now going to work, got the pay I wanted, and it’s close to where I live! I recommend this, posting ads out there being sure not to give out listed phone numbers and make sure you check that other email address (don’t use your personal one). It is almost like being self-employed but if you point out your credentials online, someone somewhere is sure to read it and either refer you or call you in. Sometimes when you are sending resumes and cover letters, no hiring department gets any idea of you, I was told many times that sometimes, if the company is in a hurry to hire, they will pick what they feel is a good resume and are very disappointed interviewing. But they need that person to fill a position or several. So if you advertise yourself you might get a job quicker than waiting for the phone to ring from the normal routes.

  27. Hello fellow job seekers I too am looking for a job I have applied to a lot online where I got one interview out of the tons of jobs I applied for and of course did not get the job. I don’t get it I dressed my best, researched the company and still nothing, hell I was even dressed better than some of the people that worked there. I even did it the old fashion way and when out to companies in my area and tried to hand out my resume. Most did not even accepted it saying that hiring is handled by an outside firm and of course most where freaked out at the mere site of a college grad looking for a job. However I was lucky enough to at least get one company to accept mine resume and I got a business card to. However since they are brand new to this location I figure I have a better shot since I hand delivered the resume and am pretty sure they have not posted they are hiring yet.

  28. Please don’t let anyone tell you there is no age discrimination in this country. It is alive and well!! I recently drove 5 hours round-trip to interview with a major company. This was after TWO successful phone interviews. I spent 1-1/2 hours with the hiring manager, who told me, “It’s so hard to find workers who aren’t senior citizens or getting ready to retire.” I am 62 and don’t look my age (most people think I am between 48 – 50), but there is NO WAY I can pass for a 30-something anymore. Bottom line? He hired someone else, and could not even furnish a legitimate answer as to why he went with the other person. He simply said he was a “better fit.” The contracting firm that sent me in there is stunned, and I wasted $350 on the trip. Maybe someday companies will get out of the mindset that when you reach a certain age you become worthless…but I don’t expect it to happen anytime soon.

    • You are absolutely right on. I’m 61 and age discrimination is rampant. No 30-something manager wants to hire someone who is as old as their mom or dad!

  29. This article is the usual BS you can read anywhere. You might find a person willing to give you feedback if you are lucky and they were honestly evaluating candidates. But let’s face it:

    Companies are trying to get what they perceive are the most experienced people they can for as little money as possible. With the ecomomy and unemployment what they are, experienced people are out of work. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are any good, but 10+ years of experience, especially if they worked for a large or well known company, are thought to be a good bet. It is too much effort to assess who has potential.

    Another problem is that the people doing the hiring may not know their ass from their elbow regarding technology. We live in a keyword, buzzword culture, and pay the price with lousy products. I personally will never work for anyone that says “Hit the ground running” – it’s idiotic. Sure, leap before you look or think, that’s the way of the world today.

  30. Did anyone else notice this:

    “Usually, this involves contacting the recruiter. Start by sending a simple note. Something like:

    “Thank you again for interviewing me. I understand your decision to go with another candidate and I accept your decision. I’d appreciate any feedback you can give me.”

    ?? I understand your decision to go with another candidate and I ………..

    If you “understand” their decision … why in the hell would you write to ask “Why you didn’t get the job?”

    If someone sent me that note, with that sentence … that would pretty much nail it; you cannot compose a simple three sentence note without contradicting yourself ! So, working a full day would probably be too much for you to handle.

  31. Most companies do not even bother to let you know you didn’t get the position, let alone tell you why.

    I also don’t buy the “overqualified” excuse. In a market where candidates are getting multiple job offers the reasoning may hold true but not in this job market. I find it humorous that companies hire you with the attitude that you will be working there the rest of your life, when in reality you will only work there a few years. It’s especially funny when it’s a short term contract position.

  32. All of the previous postings have very valid points. The “over qualified” discussions in this blog resonate at so many levels. GUESS WHAT, HR is fooling themselves if they think the new “moldable, do what you’re toldable college grads” are going to stick around when they find a new better position.

  33. As a management consultant, I do work with employers and would like to share some insight here. First, if you’re a job applicant, don’t allow yourself to fall into depression because of a rejection or getting rejected all the time. The chances are high that it was not your fault. I tell you why?

    The reality is that the job market and established employment concepts and trends have changed. In the past few years, for whatever reason, there has been an influx of desperate job applicants, many of whom with excellent credentials. If there is a heaven for an employer, this is it. They are getting hundreds of people applying for each job posting. So, they have become very selective. Having excellent references, good and advance education, and direct experience may get you the interview. You will get the job if the interviewer likes you. That is it.

    Also, we live in a diverse society and many employers, unfortunately, are discriminating in employment practices more than ever. Obviously they are not going to tell you that they didn’t like you and that is why the job was offered to someone else. The suggestion made in the above article to ask the employer for the reason is for not hiring you is to presume the employer is naïve.

  34. I was unemployed for 18mos, I took the first job that was offered to me and let me tell you I am over-qualified and underpaid based on doing the exact same job for another company in the past. Before this job though I went on many many interviews but even if I followed up with a thank you email or a call asking about the position most companies wouldn’t even respond and they don’t really send out rejection letters. They can do this because of the economy we are in, for every one position there are 1000 people that are willing to do the job and they are going to find the person willing to do it for the least amount of money. I’m still looking for something better but now the first question/concern is why are you leaving your current employer so quickly, will you leave us just as soon? College degrees and experience are pretty much getting you no where right now.

  35. my problem is i have experiance for 30 years in sales ,customer service .the compony ask.state.zip .code.out of usa.they did not accept my work experiance.what can i do or how can you help me to my experiance.and olso doyou sendme some intervieiw q?anser for my querier .

  36. I have always found that being outgoing, warm, honest and charming is far better than being robotic and practiced. To an experienced interviewer it will show. Just try being yourself!

  37. Get skinny, if you’re older you’re more likely to be overweight so even with more experience, you are a liability. You’re more likely to get sick & take sick days, get hospitalized for health issue, and not heal as well from any trauma (car accident, broken foot, etc). And even though they can’t ask it’s assumed you take a couple medications & have more health issues that will ultimately increase the cost of company medical. Not to mention being fat is a sign of weakness & you may be lazy. You may not think you’re lazy, I’ve known many fat employees who thought they worked their butts off & sweated alot, but honestly compared to the thinner people, the fat ones looked for any excuse to sit around. Thinner = more energy = more productivity = more money for the company.

  38. Dear Job Applicants:

    Here are my top 3 reasons not to hire you:

    1. You do not use the word “nothing” correctly when you speak and/or when you write in English.

    Most of the time the word to use is “anything”. Here’s an example:
    The boss didn’t have nothing for me to do (incorrect) / The boss didn’t have anything for me to do (this is correct). If you don’t know which one of these two words to use … use “anything” and you’ll be correct most of the time.

    2. Listen up people who speak Engilsh as a second language. If you use both languages in a sentence when you speak and/or when you write you most likely will not be hired.

    Here are some helpful hints: Firstly, if you speak TWO languages keep them separate. Secondly, you’ve got one up on most people because most U.S. Americans speak English only. Thirdly, at work, unless requested to do so, please speak English. Finally, if you need help with any language go to the library. You can learn a lot about any language by reading/hearing it spoken (audio books) and repeating what you read/hear out loud (quietly).
    ALSO, if you are applying for a bi-lingual job and you are unsure of what language to use – use English first (unless the interviewer uses the other language to greet you … then use that language.)

    3. Listen, listen, listen, you are being asked questions by the interviewer, these are important questions. You MUST pay attention and answer the question. If you do not answer the question “correctly” because you did not hear or understand the question, you will not be hired.

    If you did not hear the question, ask to have the question repeated.
    If you did not understand the question, ask if the interviewer could expand on the question (to give you a better understanding/idea of what they are actually saying).

    Remember it is not necessary to tell the interviewer that you are nervous. They already know that you are nervous, and telling them that you are nervous makes you sound like an excuse maker. If you are an excuse maker, you will not be hired.

    Here’s a hint that I hope will help you in your job search: Dedicate 15 minutes a day to improving yourself.

    Please note that what I hope to accomplish here is to help you get hired.
    Good Luck

    V. Lopez

  39. I wish I would have found this site a long time ago,It would have saved time me from reliving my failed interview over and over again. I waited four years to be interviewed for a position as a school foodvservice manager.All of my former classmates, 15 of them made position. When I was called in by a former supervisor, my interview was short and sweet. I should have relized something was wrong when I finished and the receptionist said “boy, that was quick” but I didn’t catch on. The interview was a sham. Yes everyone know who they are hiring and a lot of the time, like what happened to me, most companies are just covering their asses in plain english to avoid a lawsuit. Tonight, after many months being miserable about not getting the position that I worked so hard for, I can finally sleep knowing that what suspected really did happen.

  40. I am an unemployed administrative candidate, Nov.2010. I find the characteristics of my unemployment status fit the categories explained in many of the above comments. To all please know your comments and replies are helpful and encouraging. In consideration of all that have been stated, I shall maintain a positive attitude and adopt an agressive state of mind for my job search. With the confidence that I can perform the sought after job, if granted an interview; I shall enjoy the opportunity to learn something that will assist me in the next interview. I too think the interviewer has to determine they like the person enough to give them the job or someone knows you and speaks on your behalf to get the position.

    Thank you all,

  41. Employers will never tell you the (real) reason for rejecting you because they are afraid of being sued.

    Better to ask during the interview, “You must have received a lot of resumes. What was it about my resume that caught your eye?”

    • Mike009, this is a much better suggestion! I was an HR Recruiter for a long time and in recent recessions. If a candidate asked the questions suggested in this article, especially with those “promises,” I would have been reluctant to answer honestly. Firstly, calling for this information tells me that you have either no idea how many applicants there are and how little time I have or that you just don’t care. Secondly, HR recruiters run into a lot of weirdos in general and we tend to be on the look out for weirdos who could turn violent (I’ve received several threats). Those emphatic promises would come off as very strong to me and get my antenna up. It just seems like a bit much. I like your suggestion much better because it is fairly effective and you are reasonably assured a response without overwhelming anyone at the company.

  42. I actually had a really bad experience when I had asked a guy for feedback. I was interviewing for a company and I’m fairly nice, have done social work, etc.
    It was for an entry level sale job for a car rental place…
    I drove over an hour to get there, arrived early and then was informed that I wouldn’t be good for the job. The guy was even checking his myspace during the interview… I was trying to get some constructive criticism and I felt like I got totally reemed.
    I should have known better when he said
    “Do you really want to know what I think?”
    He had said that I don’t fit for sales at all and answered all these questions wrong and that id be better for human resources- but wouldnt qualify to apply for their human resources anyway and that I didn’t try hard enough.
    He had said ” Like if you said that you had spilled something on your shirt and bought a new one for this on the way, I’d know you tried hard for this.”
    He didn’t really know what I did for that interview and at that point I didn’t want to even explain myself, like the silly things- bought a new suit, took out my nose ring that closed up :-P, arrived like an hour early and sat at the kfc next door going over sample q’s..
    It was the worst interview I’ve ever had!
    Annnnd then I ran out of gas on the way home and had to call AAA.
    Even though he was a complete ass I still thanked him for his time and left with a smile. That was REALLY hard to do… but I did.
    and that’s my story.

  43. Pingback: Freshers Yaar! » Blog Archive » Performance reviews: Giving good feedback and bad

  44. And let’s not forget age discrimination is rampant.

    It is very difficult to hide your age when employer websites force you to indicate dates you graduated from high school or college. Anyone over age 50 knows this. Even though age discrimination is illegal it still goes on.

    And when you go a job interview, and the people interviewing you are the same age as your children, well, forget it. Who wants to hire someone who is as old as their mom or dad?

  45. As a consultant, I have been working with numerous employers regarding employment matters. Unfortunately, the common practice among employers is subjective assessment of job applicants. It hurts both the employer and the job applicant.

    • Is that true? in what do they base their decisions then? I’m currently looking for a job and it has been very very difficult. I’ve already had 4 interviews with 4 different companies out of almost 60 applications and was rejected from two of them. The two companies I was rejected from were reluctant to give me some feedback when I asked for it.

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  47. Sorry.
    There’s no way an HR person is going to give you honest feedback unless it’s a friend. Too much room for litigation. They’ll give you some pre-rehearsed answer.

    Try going to a interview workshop at a local college or career center. I know some public libraries also have them. These people will tell you more of a truth than someone who just rejected you for a position.

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  71. i’ve been job searching for 2 years now, still no one will hire me, not even for sales associate. and i’m in my last round of college!
    i even applied to five internships- and they all rejected me.
    i didn’t even get to the interview stage.
    this really sucks. i’m not sure how to ask for feedback. i submitted my coverletter and resume to be reviewed by my school’s career counselor. he said i had excellent writing. yet i still do not get picked.
    something is wrong here.
    it must all boil down to luck.

  72. My wife and I started a cleaning business 5 1/2 years ago.  It has been hard work, but thankfully, after one year of looking and advertising, we landed 2 subcontracts.  We were happy because the commercial cleaning industry is highly competitive. After almost 6 years in the business, we have acquired enough experience to attract customers, get our own contracts so we can start paying ourselves a salary and/or seeing at least a small profit. We employ 4 people, are licensed, insured, carry workers comp, ZERO complaints, and have excellent references.  Last year, 5 large businesses saw our website, and called to get a quote. We prepared a folder, went to see the site and offered a bid in writing that we were sure would land us a good contract. These contracts offered the contractor a month to month choice; in other words, we told them, that we were so sure they would keep our services we offered to do a month to month contract, and if they were unhappy for any reason, they would not have to keep us. unfortunately, no one called us to do their cleaning, in spite of our generous offer, and excellent references. We want to write a letter asking why our company was rejected.  We just want them to tell us why we were not chosen so that we could learn from these experiences, and better ourselves for next time.   We are not going to give up just yet, as we have invested so much time and work, as well as our own money, but are anxious to know what went wrong. How do we go about this?

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