They’re Just Not That Into You

April 30, 2014 Diane Cobbold

woman receiving bad news on telephone

So you’re not sure what’s just happened.  You’ve received a phone call that you will not be moving on to the next round of interviews.

You take stock of what you did.

- You had a good résumé that effectively sold your skills and breadth of experience.

- You wrote a strong cover letter that spoke directly to their needs.

- You successfully passed a 45-minute telephone screening interview.

- You were invited in for a one-hour interview with Human Resources.

- You know you matched at least 90 per cent or more of the job description.

Working with clients in career transition, I hear this quite a lot from my clients:

“I can’t believe it, I did everything right!  I networked into the organization, aced the interview, had everything they were looking for, but I’m still not moving onto the next interview stage!”

Let’s face it, it’s tough work finding another position that you love, and if your job search wasn’t a voluntary choice but due to a company reorganization, the stakes can be even higher. 

You go through a lot of emotions during the transition process, so being eliminated when you’re so close to your end goal definitely hurts. 

The ugly reality: this will happen to most individuals during their career transition, so be prepared.

So what went wrong?

What we sometimes forget is that while the résumé will get you in the door on the strength of your technical or visible skills—such as your depth of experience, education and training, specific accomplishments etc.—what will ultimately land you an offer is a combination of your visible and hidden competencies.

Hidden competencies include your personality, traits, values, style, and behaviours. These competencies are inherent traits and make us all unique. They can’t be studied or learned. They are a part of who we are.

The first interview often starts with an employer reviewing your visible competencies. They will ask questions to confirm and verify details on your résumé. They are determining if you have the technical and skills-based competencies to do the job.

Once key requirements are confirmed, a shift occurs to your hidden skills or competencies.

Every position will have a unique balance of visible and hidden skill requirements. Some HR professionals will have structured questions specific to unlocking your hidden skills, while in other interviews, it’s more organic and less structured – it becomes a feeling.

How does an interviewer decide between two final candidates? 

Assuming no candidate has special advantages or an inside track, and both have similar experience and skills, the deciding factor commonly rests with hidden competencies.

  • Do I feel more comfortable with person A or B?
  • Do I think one person would “fit” better with our team, or organization?
  • Did I relate with one person better than the other?

If you are not chosen as the final candidate, it doesn’t mean they wouldn’t hire you in another situation. All it implies is that for this particular position you were not the right fit.

Remember, finding a candidate with the right fit will be based on the entire package you present, which encompasses both your visible and hidden competencies.

There will be successes and challenges during the interview process. Remind yourself that by reaching the final round of interviews you’re doing a lot of things right:

  • Your résumé is working and attracting you to the right positions, and
  • Your telephone and face-to-face interview skills are well-honed.

Each interview you attend will help prepare you for the next one. The right position is out there where your ideal combination of visible and hidden competencies will be a perfect fit!


About the Author

Diane Cobbold

Diane Cobbold is VP of Business Development in Lee Hecht Harrison Knightsbridge’s Career Solutions Practice. Diane has over 20 years of experience working with HR teams to develop career solutions that support departing and retained employees to realize their career goals through traditional programs and virtual resources.

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