Negative Signals That May Be Keeping You From Getting a Job Offer

You aced the interview—at least you thought you did. Maybe you were even called back for two or more opportunities to meet with various representatives from the company you applied to. But then, nothing. When you finally reached out to inquire about the process and when you might expect a decision you’re told that, “we’re sorry, but we’ve selected another candidate.”

Negative Signals That Keep You From Getting a Job Offer

What went wrong?
Here, some hiring managers, HR pros and recruiters weigh in, sharing some of the reasons that they may not move forward with an offer, even after what may have seemed like a great round of interviews.

You Brought Up the M-Word: Money

All candidates are obviously keenly interested in knowing what a position pays and what benefits will be included. But, despite the fact that these questions may be top of mind, candidates should avoid compensation-related questions during the interview process, say the experts.

“In the interview, don’t ask about compensation and benefits,” says Ellen Mullarkey, VP of business development for Messina Staffing Group. “We can discuss this after you’ve received the offer.” Yes, money is important. But, says Mullarkey: “The interview is the time for us to learn about you and for you to learn about us. As a hiring manager, I want to be confident that you’re coming to work for me because you feel that can add value to our organization. I don’t want to walk away from the interview with the impression that you’re simply looking for a paycheck.”

The same advice applies to other perks, like vacation time and time off. “If you ask about time off before you even receive the job offer, your interviewers will get a bad impression,” says Mullarkey. “No one wants to hire someone who is more excited to leave the office than to actually work there.”

The interview, Mullarkey stresses, is the time to talk about your skills and your interest in the company—to ask questions about the position, its responsibilities and the organization itself. Compensation and benefit questions should come later.

You’re Not a Brand Match

Today the concept of “hiring for fit” is top-of-mind for most HR pros, recruiters and hiring managers. Background, skills and competencies are important, of course, but more important for most organizations is how well a candidate will fit within the culture of the organization.

Amazon is a good example to illustrate. A few years ago Amazon took some heat in the media because of what some perceived as a cut-throat, overly competitive culture. But, here’s an important thought to consider: some employees thrive in that kind of environment—others don’t. The same is true of other organizations—each will have a unique dynamic, or culture, that employees either will or will not fit into.

“Employers want to know that you are committed to their company, the mission statement, and overall brand,” says Ladan Davia, founder and CEO of Beeya, a job portal. “Even though you haven’t been hired on as a full-time employee, you should act as if you are one.

How to get some insights into the type of culture the company has? First visit their website. Most companies, especially larger companies, will post their mission, vision and values somewhere on their site. Then, check out online review sites like Glassdoor where you can see what past and current employees have to say about the company, including its culture. Finally, check out the comments on social media and any media coverage that the company may have received. From these sources you should be able to glean a good degree of information to help you discern what the company culture is like—and how you can best convey the fact that you’re a good fit.

You Haven’t Sufficiently Made Your Case

“A job interview is not the time for modesty,” says Davia. “Be proud of who you are, what you have accomplished, and what skills you can bring to the company and other employees. A resume isn’t enough to show who you are, an interview is the time to show an employer why you are the best fit.”

The interview, says Erica McCurdy, a career coach and transition mentor for the Navy SEAL Future Foundation, and owner of McCurdy Solutions Group, LLC, needs to remain an “employability conversation” and not a “watercooler conversation.”

She explains: “An employability interview is one in which the conversation is focused around the benefit to the employer. How can the candidate’s skills, experience, and abilities work to solve the problem that the interviewer has right now. A watercooler conversation is one that leaves one side or the other with stories that they can talk about with their friends or coworkers around the watercooler.”

Your goal in the interview isn’t about conveying what a great conversationalist, storyteller, or fascinating person you are—it’s about clearly conveying how you can help the company solve its problems, says McCurdy.

The next time you have an interview make sure you focus on why you would be the best choice for that company to fill their open position. Don’t just talk about your credentials—talk about them in a way that clearly conveys how those credentials could benefit the company. And put the compensation chatter on hold until you get that offer!