You Are Not Aiming Too High!
There is no question that one of the hardest moments in any job search is getting to the final round and getting a call letting you know that they have chosen someone else. These situations can be doubly deflating for new graduates because you are just getting started. You can internalize this as being indicative of something wrong with you or that you are aiming too high.
As the pandemic begins to loosen it’s hold on the job market, what we are seeing is many companies are extending their interview process. Three interviews are very common, and we have seen them extended to five and in one case actually six rounds before a candidate was chosen! This is in part because more positions are completely or partially remote and interviews are often conducted completely remotely. Companies are taking their time in this new environment, but it only makes being turned down more painful.
We want to dissuade you of the idea that losing out when you have gotten to the finalist round is indicative of something you did wrong or that you are aiming too high. If you are a finalist for a job you really want, you are NOT aiming too high. A good recruiting process brings forward two-to-four fully qualified candidates, but only one gets the job. The other fully qualified candidates are then back in the hunt. By the time you are interviewing – and doing well enough to be a finalist – many of the factors that swing it one way or the other are out of your control. Perhaps the successful candidate has a couple of years’ experience, but you do not. Perhaps you look like the hiring manager’s ex-wife, or perhaps the successful candidate went to the same university as the hiring manager.
Whether you got the job, or you were a runner-up, you are right where you belong. In fact, if you have not gotten turned down once or twice for a job where you were a serious candidate, you may not be aiming high enough. It is our experience that new graduates are more likely to be aiming too low than aiming too high.
You should, of course, ask for feedback re: what you might have done to present yourself as a stronger candidate. Because you moved through the process this far, and because you are a new graduate, you might get an HR person or hiring manager to give you some constructive feedback. One of our recent clients did ask for feedback and was told it had nothing to do with her, she was great, but the other candidate had more experience. Always ask the question, and frame it as part of your commitment to learning and growing. But mostly you should get back up and go on to the next interesting opportunity!
Now, here is an actual tip. When you know you want the job, make sure that the hiring manager hears that from you. People love to be chosen, so let them know you are choosing them. Leave them with some version of “I have thoroughly enjoyed this process and getting to know you and the team. I understand you have your process and I respect that, but I want you to know that I would love to join your team and work for you. I know that I would come in and make a strong contribution, and have opportunities to grow in this company. Say it with confidence and with a smile. And do not forget your thank you notes after EVERY interview!
If you feel like you could use more help throughout the interview process, or you are a parent who feels like your new graduate could use support here, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 60-398-7278 for a free consultation.