Ever been for an interview and walked out feeling like you have nailed it, only to receive the dreaded post-interview rejection letter afterwards? While a rejection can feel like a slap in the face, it can also be an opportunity for you to improve your approach and remedy any mistakes you may have made by reviewing what went wrong. Here are four possible reasons why you did not get the job, and how you can overcome them as you continue your job hunt.
1. You Were Not Prepared
When it comes to landing a job, being prepared is half the battle won! Appearing to be unprepared could lead to your interviewer rejecting you as this could be seen as a sign of poor work ethic, or even be regarded as a lack of genuine interest in the job. Being clueless about what the company does or being late for the interview are signs to the employer that you were unprepared.
Su Yuen Chin, CEO of MomoCentral.com, a real-time freelance marketplace of designers and developers, notes that many potential job candidates come for their job interviews unprepared. She cites one example where a candidate applying for a digital marketing post did not understand what MomoCentral does and how they work. “Mind you, all this information is easily available on the home page of our website. If you are not interested in finding out about the company you are interviewing for, why should I give you a chance?” asks Su Yuen.
While a rejection can feel like a slap in the face, it can also be an opportunity for you to improve your approach and remedy any mistakes you may have made by reviewing what went wrong.
How to Remedy It: Do your homework! Before you head down for an interview, be sure that you have scoured the internet and found out all you can about the organisation, including its working culture and industry trends. Speak to your networks to find out more if you can. Do a mock interview with a person you trust to gain confidence and see if there is anything you need to improve. In addition, make sure that you arrive at the interview location at least 15 minutes early to avoid starting the interview off on the wrong foot. Consider a practice run at the same time of day as the interview is scheduled to get an idea of how long it will take to get there and whether a bus or the MRT is the best option.
2. You Were Either Over- or Under-confident
Remember that your interviewer will be assessing your behaviour and responses to determine if you are a good fit for the company. Boasting about how much knowledge and expertise you have in this field or taking all the credit for an accomplishment that was clearly not the result of your sole efforts may make you seem arrogant.
Here, Su Yuen observes that some candidates’ egos can hamper their chances. For example, during one interview, she asked a potential developer candidate if he was open to learning XYZ language on another platform. His response was, “No, absolutely not, I will only do Ruby on Rails (a type of programming language) and I will not work on anything else.” Needless to say, he did not get the job.
On the other hand, if you pepper your sentences with “I guess” or “sort of” and speak with hesitation, these could be red flags as well. This lack of confidence may even come across as a lack of knowledge on your part. “Don’t be so nervous that your personality does not show up,” shares Annie Chang, a Vice President in the retail industry.
How to Remedy It: If you want to show your interviewer that you have skills and knowledge, do so in a considered way. Acknowledge that some of your accomplishments are the result of teamwork, and back up your claims with evidence whenever possible. For example, instead of saying “I am a great salesperson”, say “I successfully sold x amount every month”.
3. No Proper Follow-up
Were you simply watching the days go by as you waited for your interviewer to make the first move and contact you? Or were you constantly contacting them, sending out emails every other day to check in on your job application? Both of these are examples of what you should not do following an interview, as you could end up seeming disinterested in the former response, and desperate in the latter.
Su Yuen shares an example of a job candidate who her team were undecided about because of his technical skills. She says, “We were unsure about a particular jobseeker. However, he asked for feedback which we gave and he quickly went on to improve himself, creating some sample projects to show us his new competency in the technical area we questioned him on. Then he asked if we would give him another interview, which we did, as it showed us that if he joined our company, he would keep striving to improve.”
How to Remedy It: Before the interview ends, check with your interviewer when you should expect to hear from him/her. Then, drop them a note or depending on the company and the interviewer, give them a call to thank him/her for their time, preferably within 24 hours of the interview. This is a great way for you to reiterate your interest in the position and show that you are a proactive and sincere candidate. If you have still not heard from your interviewer after the expected date, it is acceptable for you to check in a few days afterwards. Make sure your follow up email is professional and not over-friendly. This is no place for Singlish!
4. You Did Not Ask Questions
When the interviewer asked if you had any questions, did you awkwardly say no? If so, you are missing out on an opportunity to demonstrate genuine interest in the position and the company, compared with another candidate who had asked thoughtful questions.
Annie feels that most Singaporean job candidates tend to be very passive. “They don’t seem to realise that an interview is the time for both sides to find out about each other. I am always impressed by candidates who know to ask questions that are related and specific to the company and job role that is being applied for,” she adds.
How to Remedy It: Take your time to craft intelligent questions for your interviewer. These questions should help you glean more insights into how the company works, and whether this is truly the right fit for you. Examples include: “How do you define success in this position?”, “What are some of the expected challenges?”, “Were there any past employees in the position who really stood out and excelled?” Asking questions such as where the best food stall is near the office or how late you can start work will not show you in a good light.