When I was a recruiter, my least favorite part of the process was turning candidates down. It’s never fun to say, “I’ve made a decision about the rest of your life, and it’s not what you’re hoping to hear.” And it’s even worse when you know that if a number of things hadn’t happened internally, you’d probably be calling with much better news.
As hard as it is to believe, there are times when you might get turned down for roles, even after you’ve knocked it out of the park during the interview process. Here are a few examples of situations in which you could really impress a hiring manager, only to get that dreaded phone call.
1. The Budget Suddenly Changed
As unfortunate as this sounds, there are times when hiring managers sit down to make an offer, only to realize that they actually can’t pay you what they originally thought. (Believe me: I’ve also been on the receiving end of this situation as a candidate.) In some cases, it’s because the role is actually more junior than they realized at the beginning of the process. In others, it’s just because the company’s financial situation has changed, and the cash simply isn’t there. In any case, budget changes happen more often than you’d think.
2. The Scope of Work Suddenly Shifted
Even before I became a recruiter, I’ve been in conversations that went something like this:
“We met someone really great for that opening on the sales team!”
“Ahh, that would be great…if we hadn’t decided we didn’t actually need to fill that role anymore.”
Budgets aren’t the only thing that are subject to sudden change. There are plenty of examples of roles changing ever-so-slightly, but just enough for an otherwise amazing candidate not to be the right fit. There are also plenty of times when roles simply are eliminated before someone is hired. Managers often realize that the job they thought they needed to add to a team simply isn’t necessary. So, while it’s unfortunate that you’ve gone through a long interview process to interview for a job that doesn’t exist anymore, it’s better to find out at this point, and not after you’ve already started.
3. Someone Internally Was Promoted
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to hear that companies like promoting from within. However, it’s not always clear at first that someone internally fits the bill for an opening on another team. And I know that’s frustrating for you, especially after interviewing with a number of people for a role you think you’re actually up for. However, from my experience, no company is consistent in the way it handles internal promotions. Some companies wait to meet with external contenders until everyone who’s currently on staff has had the chance to express interest in the role. Others simply don’t. But in any case, it’s a good thing when a company promotes its own people. Except, of course, when it costs you a really great gig.
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4. We’re Afraid You’d Get Bored
As much as you might want to call a hiring manager and say, “I am perfectly fine with being bored,” companies really consider this when making a decision. And often times, recruiters will pass on very qualified candidates who have made it clear they’d be an asset to the company because the role is simply beneath their capabilities. While this is undoubtedly frustrating, it should actually be considered a huge compliment. If someone is willing to think about your career in this manner, that’s a good indication he or she thought really highly of you.
It’s hard to be rejected for a job and think, “Yes, it was definitely their issue, not mine.” But my experience in recruiting taught me a few lessons about passing on great contenders for reasons that were essentially out of my control. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but remember that all hope isn’t lost.
If you were really into the company, and vice versa, it’s worth staying in touch with the recruiter and hiring managers. This might sound scary, but don’t worry, they were close to making you an offer once and will be happy to hear from you again. They’re also great people to have in your network no matter what, they could very well recommend you to other organizations, and—best of all—they might just have another opening down the line.
Photo of sad woman courtesy of Shutterstock.
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.More from this Author