How Failing at Job Interviews Helped Me Get Hired

How Failing at Job Interviews Helped Me Get Hired

Do you want to quit your job search?

Please read this post before you do.

Getting rejected after job interviews for all those dream positions you want can take a toll on your confidence.

However, within all this pain from rejection hides an opportunity to grow and move forward.

Failing does not make you less of a job candidate. You are simply learning what steps you should take next.

Between 2016 and 2017, I had a large number of terrible interviews. But in the end, it all taught me how to get hired. It taught me how to be better at my job today.

Here is how it happened.

I got tired of waiting for explanations in rejection emails

I have some bad news.

There are two reasons employers rarely explain why someone was rejected for a job in a way that validates our job seeking efforts:

  1. Explanations open up the floor for debate between candidate and company

  2. Explanations can be misinterpreted and can possibly lead to legal trouble

  3. Those who attempt the good deed of explaining often get harmed in the end

EEOC laws are important for protecting the rights of individuals. Yet, this 2017 EEOC press release shows the potential cost to companies who deal with EEOC charges.

Sadly, every law with a positive intention often leads to those with ill intentions taking it for granted. If they feel angry at a company for their hiring decision, they will express it through a lawsuit or negative social media.

Companies spend millions of dollars every year to avoid lawsuits and negative PR.  

I discovered “explaining things to me” was their way of minimizing risk.

So, I stopped waiting for explanations behind why I was rejected.

Here is what I did instead of waiting

I became a dedicated listener during my interviews. In my younger days in theatre acting, I was taught to live in the moment, never break eye contact, or never break character.

I played the role of professional, charismatic job seeker.

I became dedicated to listening for the following:

  • The subtext of what was being said to me (ie. things they implied).
  • Facial cues while I explained certain things.
  • Body movements of the interviewer as they reviewed my resume.
  • Energy in the room between me and the interviewers.
  • Looks on people’s faces when I walked around the office.
  • Words used by the interviewer to explain how they feel about my candidacy

Then, something great started to happen!

I heard the exact reasons why I will be rejected

I started hearing employers tell me during the job interview:

  • Skills I should be focusing on
  • What makes me an attractive candidate and what does not
  • How to improve my resume
  • When to stop talking during an interview
  • Possible professions I should investigate
  • When I should never have had an interview in the first place
  • When I really liked the company but knew I had no place in it

It was not always easy to stomach. It was humbling. No one likes being told, “You are doing it all wrong” in a job interview.

Yet, the more I accepted how little I know, the more I listened and learned. I also wrote down what I was hearing.

Here are snippets from interview failures

I share with you many things said to me during and after a failed interview, and how I interpreted it. I kept a log of these interview snippets because I needed time to absorb what I was being told.

1. “You say you know Google Analytics. Do you mean you have been exposed to it? Or do you know how it actually works?”

What they meant: You don’t know as much as you think. Find out why. The interviewer seemed unhappy.

2. “Just because you know how to Google what to do, does not mean you now know how to do it.”

What they meant: I have more to learn about the skills I claim to possess. The interviewer seemed frustrated from the moment he put down my resume.

3. “First, let me be honest, this job is not brain surgery.”

What they meant: You are going to get bored by this job quickly because you are smart. Take it as a good thing if you get rejected.

4. “You led a team of 10 in the past. What makes you think you can lead 20 or 30?”

What they meant: They are doubting my confidence level right now. The interviewer was looking me up and down with doubt. Made me want to ask why.

5. “Wow! You like someone who enjoys traveling. This job does not require travel. Is that a problem?”

What they meant: You will leave this job the minute something better comes along. The interviewer said this but did not seem impressed.

After 1000 online applications and 20 job interviews

I was honest with myself, finally. I looked back at my notes and started taking action.

I started looking for assistance on LinkedIn. I was messaged on LinkedIn by the founder of a company who helped me get more interviews and redo my resume, Find My Profession.

I started taking training, courses and consulted others using the skills I was learning from simply going through the interview process and listening. I even did a personality test to discover what companies might see me as a culture fit. 

A few months later, I was hired to work in a position where I now help people find work.

The final lesson learned

Choose to obey the actions you should take during a job search.

Do not obey your feelings of regret and disappointment. Learn to see when you are doing something right or missed the mark a little bit.

I was taught how to get hired by some of the most well-known companies in the USA.

The lessons I learned through actions, failing, and staying dedicated to improving, went much further than waiting for explanations on why I was rejected.

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