Why You Weren't Hired (Even Though You're Fabulous)

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I recently received a "thanks but no thanks" email from the hiring manager who interviewed me by phone. He said there was "no single factor" in his decision not to bring me in for a face-to-face interview. A few days later, I received another email from him saying he was aware of a similar position with another company and asking if I wanted him to share my resume. I was flattered but perplexed and wonder, if I was the person receiving the resume, whether my reaction would be, "If she's so great, why didn't YOU hire her?" Is this an opening for me to ask the hiring manager for more details about his decision, or should I just let it go?
There are a million and one reasons why a hiring manager wouldn't hire you, even if he thought you were fabulous. These include
  • The budget was cut.
  • The position was changed.
  • The VP wanted his nephew to have the job.
  • The VP wanted someone unrelated to have the job.
  • They decided to go with the internal candidate.
  • You were second choice--still fabulous, but not as fabulous as choice number one.
  • You wanted a salary they couldn't meet.
  • They thought you would want a higher salary than you would have accepted but nobody was willing to talk about salary first.
  • A bunny hopped by the hiring manager's office and that reminded him that it's spring time and he doesn't want to spend another summer in this stupid job, so he resigned and they won't fill the position you're applying for until they fill the manager position.
  • There's been a reorganization and the position now reports to someone else who doesn't think you're fabulous.
  • There's been a reorganization and the vacant position was split into two entry level jobs and now you're overqualified.
  • Sales are down so they are waiting to see what happens.
  • There's a knock-down-drag-out headcount war between the hiring manager and her nemesis, and the nemesis won.
  • HR insisted on shunting a rotten employee, whom no one has the guts to fire, into this position.
  • HR strongly suggested that it would be in the department's best interest to hire someone who filled some sort of affirmative action goal, all the while insisting that it's JUST A SUGGESTION and NOT A QUOTA.
  • Your file got accidentally deleted.
  • The offer letter was written and ready to go when someone made a mistake and called the back up candidate and offered that person the job. Rather than ruining that person's life by withdrawing the offer, you're out of luck.
  • You have all the right skills, but the wrong personality for the departmental culture.
  • You have the right personality, but all the wrong skills.
  • Someone in finance insists that you didn't wear the right shoes and therefore you're truly unqualified.
  • You cut off the Sr. Director while trying to get to your job interview on time.
  • The hiring manager really loved you, but realizes his company is whacked, and is trying to save you from a miserable life.
I could go on, but I probably lost most readers about the time the bunny appeared on the scene. But, the reality is there are tons of reasons why you would be a fabulous candidate, even the best candidate, and still not get the job. The fact that the hiring manager offered to pass your resume on to a colleague of his shows that he thinks you're fabulous. Don't worry about the, "if this person is so fabulous, why didn't you hire her?" scenario because that is reserved for internal candidates that the current manager is trying to push out.

This is a favor. This is something you thank the person for. This is networking working. Be grateful, and pursue the suggested job (if it's of interest to you, of course).

This is not something to "get over." This is something to be thankful for. It sounds like the hiring manager loved you, but for whatever reason, couldn't offer you the position. Don't be offended about that. Just go forward and thank the person for her help.

If you get to the interview stage with the new company, you can, in a very grateful tone of voice, ask the first manager if she has any suggestions for you to make yourself a better candidate. She's already demonstrated that she likes you and she just may let you in on a few tips. If she doesn't, you still thank her for the opportunity.

For further reading:

Have a workplace dilemma? Send your questions to EvilHRLady@gmail.com

Photo by carianoff, Flickr cc 2.0