Job Interviews: My Interviewer Didn’t Like Me. What Did I Do Wrong?
It makes me so sad when someone leaves an interview and somehow feels that they failed the "interview like test." In their eyes, the interview went wrong. And they start to question themselves and every answer they gave and even whether they will EVER get a job again.
First, it's important to know that an interview can feel like it went really badly and you'll still get a call. What you think the employer is looking for and what they are really looking for may be two different things.
It's not always the brilliance of any one answer – or even of all your answers individually. It's a package thing. And you can't always tell how it went in their eyes.
What if an interview feels like it went badly
After an interview, it's natural to start thinking about what happened and look for signs that tell you how well you did. And it's not all that uncommon to start kicking yourself for every small mistake. (Please know that some things that feel big are just not that important.)
And that's what I want to talk to you about. If you've done your best, that's all you can do. Please really know that in your heart and use what happened to learn from. And remember … you could be wrong and still get that call!
It doesn't help you or your job search to feel badly about things you can't control and carry those feelings with you into the future. There's so much more going on that you have no way of knowing. And any feelings you carry that weigh you down with self-doubt or a sense of your own inadequacy are just going to get in the way of any next efforts. And that's what counts now!
If you gave the best interview you possibly could give, there is nothing more you could have done in the moment to change the outcome. Either you are a match in their eyes or you aren't. It's important you really know that.
Some reasons that are out of your control
So what else might be going on that you aren't aware of?
- The interviewer actually liked you a lot. But they just didn't see the fit for this particular job. (That's why it's worth staying in touch afterward regardless, at least with a polite thank you note no matter what the result. You never know.)
- The interviewer was having a bad day and didn't smile for anyone that they interviewed.
- Sometimes you get a bad interviewer. What to do if that happens.
- The interviewer is someone who doesn't like to show a job candidate any indication of how he or she really feels.
- The interviewer knows the rest of the team and didn't feel the chemistry would be right, even if you seem like a good candidate in many ways. Sometimes it's just a gut feel – and they can be wrong.
- Based on who you are, they may know things about the company or job that would make YOU miserable. If that's the case, they did you a favor.
- The interviewer doesn't see you as fitting well into the company culture. That's not a criticism of you. Again, it's a gut call. It's all they can go on.
- There are changes going on in the company they can't discuss yet. But they know something you don't about the way things will be or people you'll need to deal with, and again, they have to guess whether the real you – it doesn't pay to be anyone else – is the right person for them at this time. But remember the right boss & company would find you to be a perfect fit!
- The interviewer actually DID like you. They just need time to get their behind-the-scenes act together!
Some final thoughts
The main reason I wrote this is because I see people blaming themselves when they don't get the job. They think they did something wrong. Or that there is something about them that is turning off employers. An interview that didn't feel right is NOT a reflection of you as a person – it's about you for this particular job.
Of course it's important to do a reality check and make sure that you are giving your BEST interview possible. If you do have doubts, ask for some honest feedback. Just understand that not everyone will agree to do that – but it's ok to ask. You may even learn something important! Or, if you still have a feeling that you need help, talk to a career counselor.
Also there may still be things to try…
But most of the time, even with some flubs and flaws, a good interviewer is simply looking for the person she or he feels will be the best fit. Your job is to help them see that as best you can. And to remember that for the right employer, you are the right match!