A shortlisted candidate for a high management position was interviewed by our client. We contacted her after the interview and she was in a very good mood. ‘’I am really happy, it felt like a great interview and I am looking forward to the next step in the recruitment process.’’ The next day our client asked us to inform the candidate that she would not proceed to the second round. We asked for the reason of rejection to be able to give the candidate honest feedback and the contact person told us that he was not present at the interview and he could not provide us with any additional information than to cancel the candidate. It felt like…bang…the door was slammed in our face. What to tell our candidate?

Fortunately, in the majority of assignments, our clients inform us about the reason why candidates do not qualify. The first and most obvious reason why candidates are rejected is a lack of competences for the role but it is not always that simple. Sometimes, candidates come to an interview ill prepared. We regularly hear from our clients that they missed hearing a clear motivation why the person is really interested in this specific job or to join their company. Even if you are not actively searching for a new job and you are just checking out the opportunities on the market, you should still clearly bring to the table what you have to offer the company instead of waiting to hear only, what the company could potentially offer you. Today’s selection processes can be quite elaborate and usually consist of more phases; in addition to a few rounds of interviews (usually with HR representatives, Hiring Managers, and the Boss’s Boss, etc.), candidates are invited for different kinds of testing and assessments and sometimes, before being hired, meeting their potential future team members. In any of these phase’s things can go wrong. We once experienced that our top candidate didn’t get the job simply because of her negative attitude towards the assessment, although the client was confident that her competences, skills and motivation were up to par. This brings us closer to one additional reason why candidates are sometimes rejected and that is the cultural misfit. Working in this industry for many years, we learned how important it is (for both sides) for the company’s and candidate’s organisational culture and values to be aligned. Of course, it is always possible that the click with the hiring manager was just not there or the company could not meet the candidate’s remuneration expectations. However, in many processes the reason for rejection is outside of the candidate’s sphere of influence.

We witnessed many of these scenarios, for instance the client decides to promote one of their employees to the open position or for some reason decides to remove this position from the organisational chart, due to reorganisation, a shift in priorities, market change, etc. Sometimes, management is instructed by their corporate headquarters that suddenly they have to stop recruiting due to internal or external reasons or events like the recent COVID-19 lockdown situation. We also faced situations in which the competences of the open position were changed during the recruitment process and the candidate that was sourced and presented suddenly did not fit any more. Sometimes our clients become better aware of what kind of profile they really need after they meet a few candidates during the process. We experience clients that are deep down, hesitant to really make a change by bringing in a new manager or are looking for the 100% perfect candidate, although we all know that the five-legged sheep does not exist. Another example of a failed recruitment process was when a client, included so many stakeholders into the selection process, that it was just impossible to reach a consensus.

After you as a candidate have invested your time and effort participating in a selection process for a job that you really wanted, it is almost inevitable not to already picture yourself doing it. Although in our last article we wrote about how ‘it ain’t over till it’s over’, being rejected is hardly ever a nice experience and often causes feeling of disappointment. We hope you will find some comfort in the fact that it is not always in your hands and that there are many other reasons than just a lack in competences why you won’t get the job. These reasons for cancellation are not always the simplest or the most obvious ones and we would like to encourage you to keep your spirits up and stay motivated to try again. So, when a new opportunity arises: show up and bring all you have to offer!

‘New Europe Resourcing’s consultants have conducted thousands of executive search interviews and gained valuable insights. Through regular client and candidate surveys we additionally collected a wealth of information and knowledge.’