The Top 3 Reasons Hiring Managers Are Likely To Pass on Offering Someone a Job

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If the phrase “interview process” conjures the image of chatting with hiring managers to win them over, career experts say you're thinking too narrowly, and that the mindset could even cost you the potential job. According to career coaches Erin Hatzikostas and Nicole Wood, the interview process extends beyond the actual interview, and actually encompasses all the interactions you have with the company—right from when you first turn in your application. With this in mind, the reasons people don’t get hired for jobs they apply to get are likely wider than you may have realized.

Experts In This Article
  • Erin Hatzikostas, career coach and founder of b Authentic inc
  • Nicole Wood, Nicole Wood is a career expert and coach as well as the co-founder of Ama La Vida—a career, life, health and leadership coaching company.

A recent survey conducted by Moneypenny, a corporate answering service, of 500 hiring managers investigated reasons people don't get hired and found three culprits: not showing enough passion for the company, being late to an interview, and showing poor phone and email etiquette. "It's the entire experience that is evaluated,” says Hatzikostas. “When a candidate doesn't handle some of the basics well—such as being late for the interview or treating the recruiter poorly—they've demonstrated they might also not be awesome to work with in the future,” she adds. So, even if you're early to interviews and have great etiquette, you still stand to benefit from sharpening your professional know-how to help you nail future interviews.

Below, Hatzikostas and Wood provide insight as to why hiring managers may withhold a job offer as well as how to avoid those job-costing errors.

3 reasons people don’t get hired for a job

1. Having a lack of passion for the company

According to the survey, nearly 44 percent of hiring managers cited this as the top reason they don’t extend job offers. Hiring managers want someone who’s passionate about the company as well as its goals, because that’s a candidate who can maintain or improve the company culture. “Excitement about the company is a great sign that this candidate will go above and beyond in their role and will be a positive contributor to the team culture,” says Hatzikostas.

How can you communicate that passion? Hatzikostas suggests asking questions that communicate your passion. For instance, “if you could accomplish one thing in the next year that would make your heart sing, what would it be and why?” and “Fill in this blank: The one thing your customer needs that would change their life forever is…”

Taking time to ask well-thought-out questions signals to the hiring manager that you did your homework and makes it much more likely that you’ll get a well-thought-out and authentic answer, adds Hatzikostas.

2. Being late to an interview

In terms of arriving at the interview, experts agree that whether you're five minutes late or 20 minutes late, hiring managers take tardiness as a sign of how you’ll behave should you get the role. So needless to say, being late is one of the reasons people don't get hired for jobs.

“Being late shows a lack of care and disorganization, which is not a great look,” says Wood. “If you need to reschedule an interview, or you know you are going to be late, your best course of action is to communicate as early as possible,” she adds.

That said, we’re only human—and hiring managers understand there are life situations out of our control. In fact, Hatzikostas says unavoidable lateness complete with a reasonable explanation can present a good opportunity to connect with the hiring manager and find out whether the place is even somewhere you'd want to work. (Read: If they’re not understanding of a life emergency, you might not want to work there anyway.)

3. Displaying poor phone and email etiquette

“Always err on the side of professionalism,” says Wood, who suggests leaving emojis out of all interview interactions—regardless of whether or not you personally know or have a good rapport with the hiring manager. Abiding by proper communication etiquette shows you’re serious about the role and that you can bring that professional energy into it.

Another important consideration as it pertains to communication etiquette is timeliness of response to emails—which also shows the hiring manager that the candidate has a good sense of when they should be getting back to people they work with. According to Wood, candidates want to respond to all emails within one business day. This timeliness also applies to sending a thank-you email, which Wood says should contain three elements: confidence in your abilities, the impact you can make if you join the team, and gratitude for the hiring manager's time and consideration. In terms of phone calls, even if you don’t recognize the number, always answer the phone with phrases like, “Hello, this is…” to show that you’re professional and ready to talk.

If you’re actively avoiding these professional faux pas and still getting “We went with another candidate” emails, stay calm—the perfect opportunity is bound to come your way.

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