3 Ways to Know You Didn’t Get the Job

I’ve been on both sides of the job interview for decades. I’ve hired more than I’ve been hired, which might help my Spidey senses when it comes to knowing if the job is in the bag or if I’m canned before I started.

As I see it, there are three big indicators you aren’t going to get the job before the words are said, the email is sent, or you get ghosted.

1. The “Thanks”

You’ve done the interview and all you can do is wait. Finally, the phone rings. You answer it, and either a little small talk ensues, or none at all, but if the sentence starts with “We want to thank you…. (for your time, for coming to interview, for the interest)”, there’s a BUT coming that doesn’t include you. This sentence generally ends with “..but we’re going with another candidate.

2. Don’t call us, we’ll call you

Generally if an employer is interested they are going to give you a specific timeline. If you hear something like “We’ll let you know if we need additional information from you”, then you probably aren’t going to need to provide any additional information. It’s a nice (or vague) way for them to end the conversation without making promises.

How do I know this? Because I do it. I am a habitual user of this phrase if a candidate doesn’t shine. I also want to make sure I don’t say “No” in case the top candidates don’t pan out. Don’t hate the player, hate the game (job market).

3. The small stuff that changes

I recently interviewed for a job where during the interview it was imperative I get a drug test. Not a big deal. Totally normal, right? Well, on the second day of the interview I was told I’d be given information to get the drug test. At the end of the conversation I said, “Do you need anything else from me? The drug test?”, they said, “Nope, we’re all good.” I didn’t even need the “Thanks for your time” call because I already knew. I was right.

Another time I was pursued to interview strongly for a position. Three people said, “We need to set up a time to talk.” I cleared my schedule and waited. One ghost. One call with enthusiasm. One promised follow up call that never came. I saw the position filled a month later.

A lot of who we are as journalists comes with gut instincts, and we carry those into every aspect of our lives, even when searching outside of local news. Listen to your gut. We sense even the smallest seismic changes in a job interview process. Don’t think you are just being negative. There’s validity behind those changes most of the time.

The Red Flags

Don’t ignore the red flags

Like any good relationship you get excited about, it’s easy to miss the red flags until afterward. You might KNOW they are red flags but move forward anyway, writing it off like you are being too sensitive or needy. (Gosh, isn’t a job interview like a real personal relationship in many ways?).

Here are the red flags I have seen in my years of job searching and hiring:

  • Lots of time for the company/organization to ask questions, but little for you. Once interviewed for a job where I was given approximately 45 minutes between 8 people to ask questions that would have changed where I live and what I do. I needed more time. To me this signals they are only concerned about what they want, and not what you want. It has been a mutually beneficial arrangement. It also makes me wonder how much time I would have gotten when I worked there to get questions answered as I acclimated.
  • Your scheduled meeting time is made clear at the beginning they are too busy to talk to you beyond the scheduled time and offer no follow up time to answer questions.
  • They pursue you immediately then make you wait weeks with no information or timeline.
  • You get ghosted. And yes, I’ve ghosted people and it was wrong. Busy schedules and time crunches and whatever gets in the way. It still isn’t a good thing to do.
  • Being vague. You email asking three questions and get an answer to one of them leaving the other two questions ignored. How do you re-ask without sounding like a jerk?

When you don’t get the job

Pity Parties are okay for a hot second

I’m a supporter of a mini-pity party for approximately one evening before you stop being emotional and start being savage again. You know nothing about the selected candidate, the hiring situation, or the dynamics of the job that looked “perfect.”

Sometimes hiring freezes get thrown down hours after talking to a candidate. Sometimes you might have just been the token “outside” candidate and they had to meet EEO requirements of interviewing a certain number of people. Sometimes the manager is going to be leaving and they don’t want to hire people who won’t work with them. The list is endless.

Just know you didn’t miss life’s perfect path when a job doesn’t pan out. I’ve lost out on jobs that turned out to be unanswered prayers and I’ll always wonder about a few jobs and why I didn’t make the cut.

That’s why it’s a job SEARCH. Everyone is searching for the right fit, style, personality, skill set, and dynamics. It’s not an easy match and the search should be treated as a learning opportunity and not a series of failures or successes.

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