Why I Didn’t Hire You

If you are graduating in December, there is a good chance you are interviewing for jobs right now. If you’re not, you have already landed a job, are going to graduate school or have a different priority.

For those of you seeking a job, you have a lot going for you. The unemployment rate is very low. Employers are coming to campus looking to hire, and we have given you many opportunities to build an impressive portfolio of experiences and skills that employers covet.

If you are getting interviews, but not landing the job you desire, you might need to reconsider how you are approaching your interview. To help you think this through, let me share the main reasons talented people don’t get hired by me…

1. The candidate thinks the interview is about them, but it’s really about me. I am looking to hire someone who can solve a problem we have. You need to be the solution to that problem. Talk about how your skills and experiences give you the ability to meet my needs.

2. You did not do your homework. You cannot adequately address my needs, if you don’t know who we are or what we are trying to accomplish. Also, if you didn’t prepare for something that is obviously important to your future– getting this job, why would I think you would change your behavior and exhibit greater care in carrying out your duties once you got the job?

3. You didn’t seem eager about the opportunity. I like to hire people with fire in their bellies… people who are motivated by the challenge I have for them. This fire is very easy to see. People who have it are fully engaged in conversation about the challenges and potential solutions that come with the position. They eat and sleep this stuff and believe in what we are trying to accomplish. If you don’t show this to me in the interview, I have no reason to believe it will show up later.

4. You had no questions for me. This leads me to think you need a job, any job. Jobs are what people have when they are looking for money to fuel their real interests– it is just a means to another, more important, end. I’m looking for people who want fulfilling careers, embrace our values, and see the opportunity we have as a way for them to progress in their careers. Such people usually have questions for me about the nature of the work.

5. I didn’t learn anything new about you in the interview. Chances are, you aren’t the only person I interviewed for this position. In my world, I usually interview three finalists. I am most likely to remember the person who surprised me by giving me an insight I didn’t expect. All else equal, that’s the person I’m going to hire.

Are all hiring officials like me? Frankly, yes. I run a big organization. When people interview with me, they have already passed through several rounds of interviews and have been judged to be technically prepared for the task at hand. That allows me to focus a little more on mindsets, motivation and cultural fit. But all hiring managers want people who do their homework and bring their managers solutions rather than problems. They want people who are “all in” and genuinely enjoy what they are doing. Bringing something new to the organization, only adds to the candidate’s appeal. If you want to get the job, be that candidate.

4 thoughts on “Why I Didn’t Hire You

  1. Paul-

    Amazing job summarizing key points in why we pass on those interviewing at the start of their careers!

    Words of wisdom to pass along.


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