From The Recruiter’s Desk: “Four Reasons Why People Don’t Get Hired”

Lindsay Olson is a partner and recruiter with Paradigm Staffing (and PRNewser guest columnist). She specializes in helping companies and agencies find public relations and communications professionals throughout the United States. She has over ten years experience recruiting in the PR industry and also writes a career-related blog at This is her latest column:

A job search is not the most pleasant of life’s experiences. It rarely comes without some rejection. The amount of factors outside your control that determine who gets the job are astounding. What you can control is yourself.

If you are called in for an interview, it’s a safe bet you have the basic qualifications to do the job. The interviewer’s goal is to answer two main questions: Can you do the job? And will you fit in?

These are the top four reasons I see qualified candidates get rejected for the job for reasons within their control.

1. Letting the ego loose

There is a fine line between being confident and being arrogant. Tell stories about your relevant experience, quantify your achievements and let the interviewer probe further. If you find yourself excessively name dropping or asking “what’s in it for me” types of questions, stop immediately and tone it down a notch. If junior team members or administrative staff members are part of the interview process, don’t mistake low rank for their amount of input in the interview process.

2. Focusing on job title rather than the position

Progression is important in your career, but remember agency and company title structures differ from place to place. An Account Director in one agency could carry a different level of new business or team management responsibility in another agency. Be sure to understand the structure before dismissing the opportunity as a demotion. Companies usually prefer to start a new employee at the level they see him comfortably adapting and adjusting upwards. You can always negotiate a performance review within 3 to 6 months from your start date in the offer. Coming across as inflexible or close-minded will diminish your chances for future opportunities with the company.

3. Show me the money syndrome

If the only reason you are looking for a new job is for more money, it is advisable to ask your current company for a raise before you start looking for a new job. You might just get it and then you don’t have to go through the hassle of starting a new job. You should expect a market competitive compensation package, but focusing on the salary and benefits details too soon in the interview process usually ends without an offer. A hiring manager wonders how susceptible the candidate is to a counter offer or leaving when a better offer comes along and may choose to invest in a candidate with more enthusiasm and genuine interest in the company.

4. Talking negatively about a previous employer

Keep it respectful. Your ex-boss may have been a lunatic, but it doesn’t make any difference to the hiring manager. Making disparaging remarks shows a lack of judgment and maturity, so avoid it at all costs. If you have been part of a downsizing, take a few days to recover. It’s emotionally distressing to lose a job and whether you realize it or not, the your feelings about it may be coming through in your answers and tone.