Always an Interview, Never an Offer?

Posted on May 27, 2009. Filed under: Job Search Tips, Uncategorized |

For some reason, lately I have been meeting up with several job seekers who have all had the same dilemma: many interviews without an offer. When I say “many,” I mean anywhere from 5 to 7 within a 3-month period. By and large, that is a good amount of interviews for this economy, and if you are obtaining this many without getting to an offer, it may be time to take stock.

Of course, industry and level of position come into play here as well as amount of competition for the position. However, the job seekers I have met with have cut across several industries, management levels, and regional markets. And when I have probed just a little bit, it hasn’t taken long to discover some of the potential issues.

Although each person is different as well as each situation, in almost every case, there are some similarities to watch out for.

Before I list these similarities, however, I want to make a general observation. If you are a job seeker and you are in this situation, many interviews with no offer, then if you are like my job-seeking clients, you probably aren’t going to like or even accept what I have to say here. Period. And that, of course, is what leads me to issue 1.

1. Inability to be objective. Many candidates forget that an interview is as much a personality contest as it is a discussion about ability. Of course, you are capable, but are you likable? For certain personality types, who don’t like “playing the game,” this can be tough news. This type of candidate comes into the interview even resenting the need for the interview or the need to “play the game.” What he or she fails to recognize is that this attitude is annoying, and no matter how much someone tries to hide it, it isn’t hard to uncover.

2. Denial about bitterness (and desperation). Like the resentful attitude in issue 1, bitterness and desperation are pervasive, whether you realize it or not. Although not the same things, these two attributes often take the job seeker to the same place: without an offer. Before you tell yourself you are good at covering it up, think again.

I spent hours with a candidate recently trying to convince her that her bitterness was pouring out of her like a bad perfume while she categorically denied it. She refused to see what everyone else could.

To help you uncover whether the two issues above could be affecting you during the interview, here are some questions to ask yourself (or better yet, why don’t you ask someone you trust to answer them on your behalf?):

• Are you spending a lot of time during your job search feeling down or sorry for yourself?

• Do you find yourself often talking about how you were wronged by this economy or your past employer?

• When you are in an interview, do you sometimes reach a point of frustration that you have to try and squelch?

• Do you often walk out of the interview feeling badly about the interviewer/company?

3. Failure to seize follow-up opportunities. Very few negotiations are secured in one meeting, even two. Sometimes it is the work you do between meetings that makes the difference. I am still amazed by how few candidates send thank-you notes to interviewers or follow up afterward. When an interview is over, they shrug their shoulders like they just finished taking a college exam. “It is what it is. What can I do now?” A lot!

4. Misplaced trust in references. For some reason, job seekers trust their references implicitly. But in many cases where offers are not being extended, it can be the result of those whom we believed would give us a good reference. Think about it. Almost no one will say “no” when you ask them to serve as a reference for you. And we think because they are seemingly nice to our face and willing to do it, that they will then be a good reference for us. Sorry to say, but this is not always the case. Unfortunately, it may not be that easy to figure out who is the weak link for you either if you are providing 3 or more references to a potential employer. However, if you have had several interviews and have handed over your reference names, only to not receive an offer, it might be time to try out some new references.

5. Forgetting that people lie. Just because a company didn’t disclose to you a bad reference, doesn’t mean you didn’t receive one. And just because a company tells you that you are under/overqualified doesn’t mean that is the real reason you didn’t get the job. Companies are made up of humans, and most humans don’t like confrontation. So instead of telling it to you straight, they will come up with a plausible excuse. Believe me, if you are the one they want, they will overlook a multitude of things to make it happen.

So who am I anyway? Why do I think my advice is so valuable?

The ITtechExec Way

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2 Responses to “Always an Interview, Never an Offer?”

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Good article, and one should always ask these questions of themselves.

For those interviews resulting in no offers in my case, I have found the following for your study:

1. Overqualified – don’t want you to get bored and worse jump to the next opportunity

2. Waiting for a significant event on the company side to occur before they can hire you. Similar to a no decision in sales.

3. Recruiters will use yourself as a validation checkpoint for other candidates they have put forth. In other words, you are put up as a valid candidate, but not really. They just want to do a validation that the original candidate was best.

4. Company internal reference will almost always win out over an external candidate, regardless of qualifications. When the boss makes a recommendation/referral, the hiring manager would be foolish to not give that candidate a leg up in the competion.

5. Finally, the most obvious; competition. When there are huge numbers of candidates, employers have the luxury of finding that precise/exact fit

Just some thoughts from my observations
Joe Beck

Great observations, Joe! I appreciate your bringing them up. I agree with 4 and 5 completely. Those are things you as the job seeker can’t change. All you can do is put your best foot forward. I have seen companies prefer their internal candidate, but if they have an external one that impresses them, they will sometimes find another spot for them or recommend them to another unit in the organization.

As for 1 and 2, watch out for those. Sometimes, not always, they can be used as an excuse for not hiring. Instead of giving you the real reason, they will throw out the overqualified label or use the stall tactic.

Finally, regarding number 3, that is new to me. I have some recruiter friends that are pretty straightforward with me, so I will sniff them out and see what they have to say about that.

Thanks again,


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