Are you having trouble moving from runner-up to brand-new employee? Almost everyone has been there at some point in their career, getting multiple interviews but no firm offers after months of meeting with hiring managers.
Sometimes, of course, it’s not your fault. It’s possible to be impressively qualified and a solid interviewer and still lose out on job opportunities. You may wind up speaking with employers whose budgets have changed, or who have decided to hire from within. The economy might take a turn, or your industry could undergo big changes that make it harder to get hired.
But sometimes, the issue is with you — your interviewing skills are rusty, or your pre-interview prep could use some work. The good news is that if you’re the problem, so to speak, you can also be the solution. If you’re getting plenty of job interviews but no job offers, consider whether any of the following might be true:
1. Your Presentation Is Off
Very few office workers come to work dressed in suits these days. That makes dressing for your job easier on a day-to-day basis, but it can make dressing for job interviews more challenging.
If you’re getting interviews but no job offers, consider whether your clothes are working against you. Sure, you saw three guys in flip-flops in the lobby alone, but that doesn’t mean that you can wear your Saturday clothes to a job interview. Even companies without dress codes will expect candidates to dress up.
Does that mean wear a suit? Not unless the work environment is fairly formal. For most office jobs, business casual is a safe bet. (That means avoiding jeans or open-toed shoes and making sure that your outfit is clean and pressed.)
If your attire is perfectly appropriate, consider the rest of your presentation. Is your body language confident and engaged? You’re aiming for good posture, no fidgeting and just the right amount of eye contact. Are you observing the rules of job interview etiquette? For example, it’s a bad idea to bring food or drink with you to a job interview — yes, even coffee, unless the hiring manager gives it to you when you arrive — or to check your phone during the conversation.
Not sure whether you’re putting your best foot forward? Consider doing a practice interview with a trusted friend. You might even film the interview so that you can catch anything that needs improvement.
2. You Need to Brush Up on Your Interview Skills
“It could be that you have the exact right qualifications to get in the door, but once you’re sitting across from the hiring manager you repeatedly put your foot in your mouth,” writes Sara McCord at The Muse. “Maybe you throw your old boss or colleagues under the bus, so you don’t come off like a team player. Maybe you ask questions that make it clear you didn’t do your research. Maybe you don’t ask any questions at all. Maybe you skip the thank you note, because you think it doesn’t really matter. (It does).”
This isn’t just a problem for people who are starting out in their careers. Even veteran professionals can wind up with rusty interview skills, especially if they’ve been at the same company for a while. So, if you’re getting interviews but no job offers, ask yourself if you need to work on your technique.
3. You Didn’t Research the Company
Yes, you should come to the interview prepared to ask a few questions of your own, but one of those questions better not be, “So, what is it that you do here, anyway?”
Do your homework before the interview. Research the company, paying particular attention to recent news stories, social media feeds and the company’s stated mission (usually available on their website). What do they value, and who will help them achieve their goals?
As a bonus, thoroughly researching potential employers might save you some time and effort. There’s no sense interviewing at a company whose values and goals are in opposition to your own. Make sure there are no red flags that indicate the company culture would be a bad fit for you.
4. You Didn’t Pay Enough Attention to the Interviewer
And speaking of company culture, it’s important to pay attention to culture fit during the interview process. In part, that means making sure you’re connecting with the interviewer during the conversation.
“One of the top reasons qualified people don’t get a job offer is ‘fit,’” says Larry Boyer, president of Success Rockets LLC, speaking with Forbes. “By the interview stage, everyone being interviewed should have the technical qualifications for the job. The focus then is on how well do the interviewers believe you fit in with the team culture and other aspects of the job. Pay attention to your rapport with the interviewers and the question behind the question.”
When doing your interview prep, learn as much as you can not only about the company but also your interviewer, if possible. Take a look at their LinkedIn profile, personal website and other presence online. It might feel like snooping, but you’re looking for genuine points of connection. Did you attend the same school? Do you follow the same sports teams or enjoy the same after-work hobbies? You might be surprised at how much you have in common with the hiring manager.
5. You Didn’t Know Your Worth
Don’t wait until you have an offer on the table to set your salary request. Some employers will wait until the offer stage to begin the money conversation, but others will screen for salary range right up front, to save everyone time.
Regardless, you need to know how much your skills and experience are worth on the job market so that you can set your price appropriately. Take the PayScale Salary Survey and get a free report with a salary range based on your qualifications — and how much similar candidates are able to command in your metro area.
With this information in your pocket, you won’t have to worry about pricing yourself out of a job you really want … or accepting a salary you’ll later regret.
6. You Recited Your Resume
If your CV weren’t impressive, you wouldn’t have made it to the interview stage. But to get through the process and get an offer in hand, you have to be able to do more than just regurgitate the information on your resume.
Everyone loves a good story, so come to the interview ready to tell yours. That means having a good elevator pitch, but also being to explain why your experience makes you the best person for the job. Your skills and qualifications got you in the door. Now, you need to be able to weave this data into a narrative that shows the hiring manager how you’ll use your abilities to solve their problems.
Be ready to tell a few stories about your career: how you got where you are, where you hope to go in the future, how you’ve failed and succeeded.
Strong storytelling can even help you get an offer after an initial rejection, as Angelina Darrisaw explains at Monster.com. Darrishaw succeeded in being hired for a job as manager of digital business development at Viacom, despite not having all the experience listed in the job description.
“After initially being rejected from the role, I was able to connect with HR by phone,” she says. “I used that as an opportunity to share my story of success doing tasks that aligned almost completely with the job description. The interview process continued and I landed the role.”
7. You’re Not Excited About the Job
Listen, we get it: sometimes, you just need a job. And there’s a lot to be said for letting work be work and keeping your passion for your hobbies. But unfortunately, most HR managers don’t want to hire someone who feels meh about the job. They’re hoping that you’ll put a lot of enthusiasm, energy and yes, time into your work. And that means that they want to see some excitement from you during the interview. If you’re getting interviews but no job offers, it might be because that excitement is missing.
“Employers know that skills can always be taught, but that passion is either there or it’s not,” writes Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO of AudienceBoom, at Inc. “If you’re truly excited about a job, be sure to convey this in your cover letter and interview. Explain your reasons for wanting the position, and share ideas you’ll be excited to explore should you get the job.”
And if you’re not truly excited about the job, well, consider whether this is your best path right now. Is there another job or career path that might pay your bills and engage your enthusiasm? It might be time to contemplate a change.
Tell Us What You Think
Are you getting plenty of interviews but no job offers? We want to hear from you. Share your story in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.