Part 3 of 3

Today I’ll wrap up my three-part series on why people don’t land jobs with a look at the challenge of landing interviews, yet failing to generate an offer.

We’ve all been there at some point. We’re excited to interview for a position we think we’d enjoy. The interview seemed to go well. But afterward, we hear, “You were a strong candidate, but we elected to go in another direction.” What could have gone wrong? Let’s take a look at some possibilities.

Interview better. Call me Captain Obvious, but it’s true. Even people who feel they interview well can improve. Simply having the right education and experience may help you land the interview, but if you don’t come across well during the interview, they’ll likely move on to a different candidate.

Employers look for a good mix of hard skills and soft skills/culture fit. Studies have shown that only 7% of interpersonal communication is your actual wording. Tone of voice accounts for 38%, while a full 55% is tied to your body language. This means there’s a whole lot more to landing the job than just key words and accomplishments.

Be mindful of using a firm handshake, smiling, good eye contact, posture, etc. Show enthusiasm in your voice. Asking good questions also shows you cared enough to do homework on the company.

End the interview by reassuring the employer you’re interested in the position. When you learn of what their next step is — and when — then ask whether it would be all right for you to follow up with them if you haven’t heard from them by then.

Send a thank you note. I’ve informally asked a number of local human resource folks for a rough idea on the percentage of candidates who bother to send a thank you, whether via email or the U.S. mail. No one has said that number exceeded 50%. Most answers are around 25% to 33%. This means well over half your competition is failing in this department.

I’d encourage you to send an email thank you upon returning home. Then, that evening put a hand-written note in the mail. You may be surprised how much employers value these notes. I know they do — they’ve told me.

The deck was stacked against you. OK, maybe that’s just an excuse, but the power of networking is huge. Assuming I’m a decent fit for the job, if I have an influential person recommending me to the hiring official, my chances of landing the position are pretty strong. How strong is your network? Do you have anyone who’ll put in a good word with the hiring official on your behalf?

You really were overqualified. Whether you want to label it ageism is your business, but companies typically have a compensation range for the position.

For them to exceed that range, you’d better make a compelling case. For that matter, if you’re willing to take a step back in pay to fit within their range, you’ll need to make a compelling case for that. Chances are, the employer found another candidate who not only had the requisite skills and experience, but for whom the salary made more sense.

Thankfully, more and more states are passing laws against an employer requiring you to divulge your prior income.

That’ll wrap up my three-part series on why people don’t land the job. If you’re an area professional in the midst of a job search, our center’s services are free. Contact me at the address below. Good luck!

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Randy Wooden is a long-time Triad career consultant and Director of Goodwill Industries of Northwest NC’s Professional Center. You may reach him at or at 336-464-0516.

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