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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Why didn't they hire me? Hiring managers share their reasons.



I asked my LinkedIn contacts to think back about the last person they interviewed but didn’t hire. I wanted to know why they didn’t make an offer to that candidate and what advice they wanted to give to the person.

Here are their responses:


There are trade-offs as a hiring-manager that you have to make. If you think that person you're interviewing has "potential" you should seriously consider him. I'm yet to see 100% matches, something is always missing or more than what I need to get the job done. If there is potential, I usually consider twice. Trade-offs are just not skill-sets, they maybe salary requirement, experience, maybe location etc. A "no" would come only if trade offs far outweigh, or if there are roadblocks like salary disagreement or on-site presence requirements for an off-site worker, etc.

I didn't hire them because they had a nervous laugh. A really creepy nervous laugh. I learned right then and there to tell a joke. If they don't get the joke, or don't laugh, then they are a dud and I won't hire them. If they have a weird laugh or crazy chortle, then they are cut from the program just the same. So sue me for laugh discrimination!!!

The last person did not have enough technical skill in one area and I did mention to them afterward that it was the sticking point.

I would have said, "Answer the actual question I asked rather than a rehearsed, canned response of buzzwords, and catch-phrases that didn't really say anything."

They didn't demonstrate any real passion -- for the position or for learning about it, for their past or for their future, and/or for opportunities in their life (at work and beyond). If you don't demonstrate eagerness, enthusiasm and excitement, I'm just not interested in you, no matter how qualified you might be.

The resume provides me initial insight into the person's skill set which leads to a phone interview to confirm the skills and experience. If these two levels are passed, the face-to-face meeting occurs. During the 1:1 it is important the candidate demonstrate personal accountability and communicate how his/her work behavior indicates proactive ability to generate results. If the person says what they will do and gets it done, I'm interested further. It is more important to get the right people on the bus. Skills can be learned. Attitude and behavior can't be taught and together are the difference between success and failure.

I did not hire him because of poor personal hygiene. I actually told him to shave, comb his hair and take a shower before he left his house the next interview.

I interviewed this person for a software testing position which requires some coding (programming) and I did not hire him for two reasons: he was a little cocky and he did not successfully finished his coding question. While the coding issue was obvious, I did not dare to tell him of his attitude. Up to this day, I am still unsure if I would tell if I am in the same position again.

I think the most frustrating part about hiring for entry-level jobs, is the different work ethic that I have vs. some of the younger people getting out of school. Nothing bad about them, but my generation was never part of the 'entitlement" generation, and I find expectations for what they want and what is reality in entry level positions are different.

Also professionalism... Jeans are ok in most corporations today, but not on a job interview!


Someone I interviewed answered my questions in very general terms without providing the depth and details I was seeking. As someone who makes behavioral questions the core of his interviews, I was asking the candidate to describe specific situations she'd been in, what actions she took in those situations, and what resulted from those actions.

For example, "Tell me about a time when the team disagreed on some aspect of the project, and walk me through the steps you took to resolve that disagreement". Despite much prompting and follow-up questioning, I never really received a clear answer as to what this candidate actually did in that situation.


For any question that leaned toward a past or potential challenge or deficit (i.e. "Tell me about a time when your work was criticized" or "Tell me about a challenge you faced..."; the person's answers all started with, "Well he/she/they...".

I could comfortably assume that if the individual did not take accountability for any of his past behaviors/actions, I would most likely see the same behavior if I were to hire him.


I did not mention this to the candidate however; it would be a great coaching point for him or any other potential candidate.


First of all, I am a straight shooter and often offer helpful advice to candidates whenever I can. I know that I would appreciate similar help from others.

The last candidate I interviewed wasn't hired because he didn't have enough experience in a particular area of need.


I interviewed a lady who had called in twice to "check some details" before her interview. On both occasions she had been rude to the staff she had spoken to on the phone. During the interview she was very abrupt, almost the point of being overly cocky, yet she had no clarity in her answers or in her ideas about her future. I didn't hire because I couldn't see her fitting into the team.

I just couldn't reject the candidate because his skills didn’t match my requirements. I felt he was a worthy candidate for his experience and I tried to forward him to a suitable opening.

It's hard to lose a worthy candidate.

1 comment:

Hai Vu said...

Thanks Jill, I learned a couple of things from your article:
- Attitude counts more than skill set
- Ability and willingness to learn get you far.

Keep those articles rolling.