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Interview Rejections Decoded
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Interview Rejections Decoded

There are many reasons for "why candidates fail in interviews" however surprisingly more than 70% of the candidates blame the employer for the rejection on the basis of some strange and bizarre assumptions. Some of these include - 

  • They must have already selected someone and are now just completing the formalities of taking interview for the rest of the candidates

  • I don’t think the interviewer or the employer knew what they were looking for

  • The interviewer was an idiot, he could not see my skills and experience

  • I think all my responses to questions were so good that the interviewer could not handle them

  • The interviewer I think had some personal issues with me

  • The interviewer was in a very bad mood, must have had a fight with his spouse

  • They must be taking bribes

Employers generally do not disclose the reason for rejection and this only adds to the list of assumptions. However, could these really be true? Could there actually be an issue with the employers?



Let’s look at the same problem from an employer’s perspective -

Employers are running a business and they do want best candidates so that they can grow and make bigger profits. Employers are travelling across geographies today to source the best talent at best price. There are employee retention budgets, recruitment incentives, referral pay-outs etc. If the employers do not really care, then why do you think so much money is being spent on these activities?
With such large spending, one thing that we can agree is that Employers are not the issue here. They do want the best talent and are willing to go the distance for the right candidates. So could the issue be the interviewer?



Let’s look at the same problem from an interviewer’s perspective

Almost all private firms have a probation-confirmation process, which can be 3 months, 6 months or more. One key reason for this process apart from performance appraisal, review, support, guide etc is to filter out poor hires on the basis of actual performance and post all improvement efforts have failed. So when an employee is identified as a poor hire during this process, the question “who hired him/her?” also comes along. So, when an interviewer takes a wrong call and gets poor hires/ wrong candidates on-board on repeated occasions, they do face some difficult questions with a negative impact on their own appraisals. So an interviewer can get away once or twice but not always and in some cases can even get fired on repeat instances.
On the other hand, when the interviewers/ recruiters do well they are often rewarded with incentives, awards and appreciations. So why would an interviewer NOT approve good candidates?
The interview results are of course a judgement call taken by human beings and at-times they can be wrong, however that is a very small fraction of the total number of candidates selected.



Lets looks at the same problem from the candidates perspective -

To understand this perspective, it is important to first know what the common reasons for interview rejections are –

1. The candidate has no idea of what the job really is –

Though it’s not always the candidate’s fault, let’s see the common causes –

  1. Incorrect job description - Most candidates go for an interview basis an email or a call received with the job description and they believed they are the right fit. Well, most of these job descriptions are standard, often copy pasted from some online source. Don’t be surprised if a Development Manager in Company A, dealing with different type of products completely and a Design Manager with different scope of work in Company B have the same job description listed on job portals/ interview emails. This mostly happens due to some disconnect between the HR team and other departments. However when the interviewer calls for the interview (face to face or telephonic), they have your resume ad the job opening title. They know what the job requires and do not go into the job description which was actually rolled out. Therefore the job description that the candidate has in his/her mind and has prepared for, is very often different from the job description that the interviewer has in his/her mind. So the responses that the candidate actually gives keeping the job description in mind are different from what the interviewer is looking for. So the result is “CANDIDATE REJECTED”

    Now don’t expect this to change overnight. And until it changes, the only solution to this issue is speak at length and in detail with the recruiter on the job description. During the Interview process, you would be asked a question “do you have any questions for me?”, make sure you ask about the job description in detail. In case it is different from what was communicated earlier, express the concern that there was a major mis-communication on the employer’s behalf and everything that was answered was with the incorrect job description in mind. Seek a 2nd round. Even if you are not given the chance and are still rejected, the feedback will still definitely go to the right authorities and would be fixed so that no other candidates face the same issue.

  2. Over confidence – basis the experience that many candidates have, many do not think it’s important to prepare. They believe they can crack any interview. On the other hand, for the interviewer taking interviews, this is his/her day to day job. They are skilled in thrashing any over confidence out of the window and even destroying the self-confidence of the candidates if he/she continues to brag. So remember over-confidence in never good

2. You don’t know your resume or you have not done what you have written in your resume!

Surprised again?
And this is always the candidates fault and yes, this is one of the major reasons why candidates get rejected.

I would like to give an example from personal experience. While interviewing for a Process Manager at one of the largest technology firms, we came across a CV where the candidate had mentioned that “Successfully completed a Six Sigma Black Belt project on TAT (turnaround time) reduction”. There was no result or any other information. Therefore we asked him few questions –

Question: Which hypothesis test did you use in the Analyse phase?
Answer: Control Charts
(Control Charts are used in the Control phase)

Question: What was the primary metric and how much did you improve it by?
Answer: Quality, we improved it from 73% to 99%
(this made us curious as it was a TAT reduction project)

Question: Can you please define the formula for this primary metric?
Answer: Total number of order requests processed divided by 450 requests, where 450 is our daily capacity
(so a TAT reduction project with Quality as a metric, definition related to capacity utilization and the formula is incomplete too)
The candidate was of course not hired as his responses were similar for many other questions and he had no idea what he was talking.


This is a common trend that employers are facing every day. If a candidate has not done something, don’t write it or it will backfire in the interview. Some employers may permanently blacklist you internally for faking information.
And if you have done it, make sure you remember and answer it correctly. Especially when it comes to achievements, results, numbers etc. as the interviewers will deep dive. You will get questions like “how did you do it”, “what steps did you take”, “what was the result”, “how did this solution improve that result” etc. If you have not done it, you may get away with the 1st question, 2nd question may be, but not the 3rd, 4th, and 5th as the interviewers will go deeper. So don’t fake and make sure you study everything in your resume before you go for an interview.

This part is so critical that if a candidate has has a one hour interview and the 1st 55 minute have been great, but in the 56th minute, the interviewer gets a feeling that there is fake/incorrect information in the CV, all the effort of the 1st 55 minute would go in the drain. The interviewer will lose the trust & confidence and either the candidate will have another one hour interview to prove himself/herself or will be rejected. 

To be continued next week


Best of luck,

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