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What your interview feedback really means

If you've been rejected from a job and you’ve asked for feedback, sometimes the reasoning behind your unsuccessfulness can leave you a little frustrated. 

Interviewers or recruiters can sometimes soften the blow of rejection by skirting around the real reason why you weren’t successful, by giving you very vague feedback. In today’s job market it’s essential that we know the truth about our skills, experiences and interview techniques in order to better ourselves in the future.

We’ve decoded some of the main reasons why you weren’t successful, to decipher what they actually mean and how you can prevent having the same feedback again.

“You aren’t a cultural fit”

This is probably one of the most frustrating reasons for not getting a job. Strengths, experiences, skills and qualifications are all easily measurable, however not being the right fit for a company can seem like a personal attack. Think of a working relationship as a romantic relationship; for a romance to work there has to be chemistry, without it the relationship will fizzle out. This is exactly what a working relationship needs – chemistry. If the person interviewing you would also be working alongside you, then they’ll need to feel a connection. Whilst your skills and qualifications are important, whether you can easily fit into an existing team is vital.

You’re not always going to build up a rapport with someone, but it’s key to remain true to yourself. Interviews are a daunting experience, therefore, you may act unnaturally. Try to remain calm and let your personality shine through; people will warm to you a lot more if they can see glimpses of your genuine attitude and persona.  Never try to be someone you’re not, your interviewer will see straight through you.

“We recruited someone internally”

Again, this is quite a frustrating reason as to why you weren’t successful. If employers can, they’ll always try to recruit internally first; why? Simply because it’s easier. The internal applicant already knows the business inside out and the business already knows their personality, attitude and work ethic.

It’s always tough going up against someone who’s already in the business but it is possible to pip them to the post. Whenever you go to an interview, make sure you research the company thoroughly, ensuring you can rival any internal recruit’s knowledge. Always sell your skills and experiences with confidence and gumption and try and to get across that a fresh eye can be positive for any business.

After every interview ensure you receive feedback on how you performed from your interviewer

After every interview ensure you receive feedback on how you performed from your interviewer

“You’re overqualified /underqualified”

Sometimes, in sheer desperation, you can end up applying to everything and anything. Unfortunately job hunting this way will only lead to disappointment. Only apply for jobs which match your skillset and experience, if you’re looking to move up the career ladder then you’ll need to demonstrate that you’re ready to make the jump up.

If you’ve been told you’re overqualified for a position, then they basically think you’re too good for the job. The role probably isn’t challenging enough for you and they believe that within a few months you’ll get bored and seek something more stimulating. Being told you’re overqualified isn’t all bad, if others can see your potential and worth then you should too – seek jobs which fit in line with your experiences.

If you’ve been told you’re underqualified, then this could be down to two things. You may have embellished the truth on your CV and they saw straight through you in the interview, or you undersold yourself in the interview process.

Never make false claims on your CV, eventually, you’ll be found out, if not in the interview, then once you’re in the position. Always be honest about what you can and cannot do and if a job requires a certain skill then tell your interviewer that you’re keen to learn – which is always a positive.

Not everyone is a born salesperson, but an interview is all about selling yourself. Be a good salesperson by knowing your brand i.e. talk about yourself and your accomplishments with passion and enthusiasm. Become a great storyteller, make powerful statements and deliver everything with confidence. Show don’t just tell; no matter what industry you’re in, bring proof of your successes, this could be in the form of a website, blog, portfolio or certificate – interviewers love visuals. 

“You were under prepared / unenthusiastic”

This type of feedback can easily be rectified. Whether you have a week to prepare for an interview or a couple of days, utilise whatever time you have to prepare yourself accordingly. Always check out the business’ website to find out more about them. Almost all companies will have an About Us section so make sure you read it at the very least. If more information is available i.e. company news or award wins then take a look at these sections too and see if you can drop any of your new found knowledge in at the interview – this will really impress them.

If possible, read over the job description once again to ensure that your experiences and expertise match up to what they’re looking for. If there are any aspects of the job that you don’t have experience in then, at least, you can bring this up in your interview.

As stated earlier, interviews are daunting situations, which usually put people on edge. Nerves can take over and you can come across as unenthusiastic, try and combat this by radiating positive body language. Make direct eye contact with the interviewer and smile a lot. Talk with your hands and use animated facial expressions, even if you find this difficult just fake it 'till you make it and you’ll really reap the benefits.

Check out our article Could your body language be stopping you get your dream job for tips on how to radiate positive body language.