Job searching is full of frustrations, but perhaps none is more annoying than consistently getting stuck at the same point in the interview process. Whether you’re having trouble getting the hiring manager’s attention in the first place, or difficulty closing the deal and getting the offer, it’s tough to fall short of your goal. It can be even more challenging when you don’t get selected for a second interview, even though you thought you did well the first time around.
The good news is that when your job search derails at the same point each time, there’s a good chance that there’s something you can do to get a better result.
If you’re willing to do a little self-reflection, you might be able to figure out what you’re doing wrong and try something else instead.
But before considering your possible missteps, it’s important to note that there are plenty ofreasons why you might not get a second interview that have nothing to do with you. If you’re just starting a job search process, and you’ve had one or two first interviews that didn’t lead to follow-ups, don’t assume that the problem is you.
The Employer’s Needs Might Have Changed
Companies make changes all the time. They reduce their budgets. They reallocate dollars to different roles. They move positions to other teams and teams to other locations. And many a time, these activities occur in the mid of your interview process.
Hence, in cases like these, the hiring manager or the Recruiters will apologetically inform you that their needs have changed. While that might sound like, “It’s not you, it’s me,” sometimes it’s the truth. You can’t land a job that doesn’t exist anymore.
Maybe You Weren’t a Good Cultural Fit
Culture fit matters almost as much as skill set when it comes to hiring. The most talented workers in the world won’t be as productive in an environment that doesn’t work for them.
If you’re a people person and love working with teams, up-close and in-person, then working remotely won’t be a good experience for you. If you’re an introvert who prefers working alone, a gigantic open office full of perks and parties will feel like setting up shop in the middle of Grand Central Station.
You blew the first interview. You went in and called the hiring manager by the different name. You didn’t know much about the company, and it showed. You couldn’t explain or prove why you needed the job, or you weren’t able to answer other standard interview questions.
There are plenty of ways to blow an interview, and while you can make up for some of them in your follow-up, sometimes you just can’t recover. When that happens, learn from your mistakes and do better next time.
You didn’t tell the right story. Before you enter in corporate world, you should be ready with your elevator pitch and a few short, engagement stories about how your skills and qualifications match their requirements.
That doesn’t mean that you should go into the interview waiting for a chance to deliver your monologue. It just means that you should be ready to share your accomplishments in a way that will resonate with the hiring team. Humans love stories. If you can tell a good one, you’ll have an advantage over the competition.
It’s important to make sure that when you’re crafting your stories, you focus on the right thing.
For example, your leadership skills may be impressive, but they could work against you if the company isn’t looking for managers, or people they're afraid would leave for a management job. Carefully go through the job listing, and highlight your relevant experience.
You didn’t send a thank-you note. Send a thank-you note–handwritten or via email–within 24 hours of your interview. Make sure to emphasize your skills and fit for the job, and to express your gratitude for the interview. Proofread your note and double-check spellings of personal names and company names.
You didn’t follow instructions. During the interview process, it’s always important to follow directions carefully. Send the requested materials, (e.g., resume, cover letter, portfolio, etc.) and use the specified file formats. Once you’ve interviewed, be sure to follow the hiring manager’s lead when following up.
For example, if they say they’re interviewing candidates over the next two weeks, send your thank-you note immediately but wait to conduct further follow up until after their process is likely completed.
You were too persistent. Following up after a job interview is tricky. You need to express your thanks and interest in the job, but you don’t want to look like you’re stalking the hiring manager. If you’ve sent a thank-you note and a follow-up email, and you haven’t heard back, it may be best to let it go.
Your social media is too revealing. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 57% of employers have decided not to hire a candidate based on something they found online. If employers might find out your social media material objectionable – you might be reducing your chances of getting yourself shortlisted.
But also make sure you don’t delete your accounts. 47% of recruiters in that survey also said that they’d be unlikely to hire a candidate they couldn’t find online.
One of your references isn’t on your side. Are you aware of what your references are saying about you? If not, it’s the right time to find out. First, make sure you’re asking for references from people who are familiar with your work and who will definitely have favorable things to say about you. Always review the job details with them so that they’ll know what the hiring manager wants to hear.
If you’re still not sure what kind of picture your references are painting for potential employers, you can always try asking hiring managers why they’re passing on your candidacy. Keep it vague and respectful – don’t demand a detailed explanation and don’t put words in their mouths.
Though the gapbetween first and second interview can seem huge at times, the key to getting to the next stage in the application process is to impress your interviewers. If you’re confident, polite and show them that you know what you’re talking about, then there won’t be anything standing in your way from getting even closer to landing your dream job.
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