Why smart people get rejected during job interviews?

In the middle of 2009, Brian Acton was the software engineer that no one wanted to hire. Despite a years of experience, he got turned down by two of the Internet's brightest stars. First Twitter said ‘No’ then Facebook rejected him. When Acton couldn't find work at another big-name company, he took his chances on the start-up route instead. He founded ‘WhatsApp’ teaming up with his colleague Jan Koum. Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 for stunning 16 billion in stock and cash with as much as $3 billion in stock units for the founders .

Not hiring Brian Acton and utilizing his talent was a billion dollar hiring mistake for Facebook. 

Instead of voicing frustration about Facebook's inability to realize what he could contribute, Acton in August 2009 wrote on Twitter: "It was a great opportunity to connect with some fantastic people. Looking forward to life's next adventure." It took a while, but eventually his optimism paid off. 

Why smart people at work are not smart during job interviews? 

A friend of mine recently called me and said that he attended 4 job interviews in the last 3 months and all of them rejected him without providing any feedback. I know him really well, he is one of the most competent resources in my previous organization. I pacified him telling that it’s a loss for the organization, not for him, and cheered him up. 

I also gave him my two cents on how to face job interviews, 

You never get a second chance to make a first impression 

At work place most smart people speak loudly with their performance than with their mouths. Yet, while no one disputes that one of the most important elements in a hiring situation is your communication skills. However great is your product, if you don’t advertise it well, it will remain in the shelf. Whether you like it or not during job interview you have to be good at selling yourself. 

There have been volumes written about how “the first five minutes” of an interview are what really matter, describing how interviewers make initial assessments and spend the rest of the interview working to confirm those assessments. If they like you, they look for reasons to like you more. If they don’t like your handshake or the awkward introduction, then the interview is essentially over because they spend the rest of the meeting looking for reasons to reject you. 

Psychologists call this confirmation bias, “the tendency to search for, interpret, or prioritize information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses.” Based on the slightest interaction, we make a snap, unconscious judgment heavily influenced by our existing biases and beliefs. Without realizing it, we then shift from assessing a candidate to hunting for evidence that confirms our initial impression. 

To job seekers – Build instant rapport by thinking all good things about the interviewer (what you think matters!) Project positive body language. Prepare your first 5 minutes really well, the obvious first question is about your background, prepare it well. Express your accomplishments, talents, and skills in succinct ways that speak directly to how they can help an employer. 

Your state of mind matters 

karma?y-ev?dhik?ras te m? phale?hu kad?chana m? karma-phala-hetur bh?r m? te sa?go ’stvakarma?i (Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 2, Verse 47) 

The Essence of above verse is to do your duty, but do not concern yourself with the results. If we focus all our energies on the outcome of the interview, it will trigger fight or flight stress hormones within us. Our reptile brain will become active due to stress and it will hinder your thought process and effective communication. 

It’s natural to feel anxiety about a job interview. Someone is about to scrutinize your appearance, mannerisms, what you say, and how you say it. The stakes are high and someone else is in control. For many, loss of control can lead to additional stress and anxiety 

To Job Seekers – It is very important to be in the most relaxed state as possible to think and talk clearly. Move your body and take deep breaths to calm yourself. Focus on what you can give than what you get out of the job. Be prepared .If you do your homework, preparation will lead to more confidence and confidence puts you in command. 

Accentuate the Positive 

The self-help gurus are right: It pays to think positive, at least when it comes to job interviews. No matter how desperately you want the job, remember that it’s just one opportunity. Your entire future is not dependent on landing this particular job. You don’t even know that much about the position yet. Sure, it looks good on paper, but it’s not your only option. 

No matter what happens, interview will be a learning experience that will make you a better job candidate and savvier professional in the long run. 

Keep in mind that you are there because they liked your résumé or the impression you made in the screening interview. That’s a compelling reason for you to be upbeat on the day of the interview. 

Just know that Interview is not a foolproof process and Interviewers make mistakes. Sometimes you lose an opportunity not because you were not good, but the hiring team was inefficient. 

To Job Seekers - Rejection doesn’t mean ‘NO’, it simply means ‘Not Yet’ just remember this acronym SWSWSWSW, “ Some Will, Some Won’t, So What, Someone’s Waiting’.

Ask yourself an empowering question, What's Next?


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