Job interviews are the bane of many people's existence due to the fact the person on the other side of the table is out rightly judging you. So what happens when you are fresh off a great job interview only to discover an email from the hiring manager alerting you the job has been filled. What could have gone wrong? Turns out a whole lot and most of the time it isn't within your control. Here's what you should keep in mind before the what if's start floating around your head.
You weren't qualified
The most obvious reason why you would have been passed over for a job was that you simply were not the most qualified person they came across on their search. Or according to Alison Doyle, Job Search Expert for The Balance, you may have been overqualified. Doyle says, “You may have been as qualified as other applicants, but the hiring manager may not have perceived as a good fit for the company culture."
The budget was cut
Companies are not perfect. Sometimes they put plans into motion that are not secure. Maybe they were banking on a new client that would bring in a ton of work, and of course budget for a new role to help out with that work. According to Vicki Salemi, Monster's Career Expert, “Finance may have realized after the fact that budgets are on hold (a.k.a. there's a hiring freeze) for the rest of the fiscal year."
You came off as negative
Companies are looking for people who have great energy. Doyle points out that what raises the most red flags when it comes to hiring are people who tend to talk with negativity. “If you speak negatively about your current or previous jobs, bosses, or companies, the interviewer won't be impressed," says Doyle. This makes sense since they wouldn't want you bad mouthing them if you became an employee. “The other way to raise a red flag is to make the interview all about you and what you want, instead of about what you can do for the company. Keep it positive, and remember that you need to sell the interviewer on why you would be the ideal candidate for the job," says Doyle.
They hired from within
It's possible that businesses cast a wide net in their search for applicants only to promote someone who already works there. “There could have been a candidate who was referred and strongly recommended by a current employee. The company could have hired internally," says Doyle. It makes sense for companies to hire from their employee pool since salary increase and training will cost them a whole lot less.
You weren't honest
Hiring managers have experience dealing with people aren't telling the whole truth. They can read your body language, your sentence patterns and based on their insight assume you aren't being entirely honest. “I always knew when candidates didn't have experience because they didn't directly answer a question about it. They talked loquaciously around the answer and gave a really verbose response compared to all of their other responses instead of simply saying, “I haven't encountered that program yet, but I'm a quick learner," says Salemi.
You came off as dull
Considering people spend upwards of 70% of their time at work it comes as no surprise that hiring managers are looking for professionals with a good personality. Someone they can chit chat with, communicate ideas to or kill time with on a business trip. “You may be incredible on paper but in person not be able to make connections with people you're interviewing with, especially after two or more rounds of interviews. Remember, they're people," says Salemi. Understandably, the mix of being professional and showing off your personality can be challenging when you are on a job interview, but you need to it off as much as your skills. Make sure to incorporate a bit of small talk to create a connection. Salemi acknowledges, “Often times when two candidates have nearly identical resumes, the one that gets the job is the person who the hiring managers liked most, and who they could see them fitting in with the group well."
If you didn't get the job don't let it discourage you from your job search. The best thing you can do is use it as practice. Do your best to course correct for future positions. Stay upbeat, create a connection and as hard as it might be, do not take it personally.
Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.
Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.
Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.
As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.
Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.
So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.
Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.
For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."