College Graduates: Were you a finalist, but didn’t get the job…

 You Are Not Aiming Too High!

I recently talked with a young client who graduated earlier this year. She has worked hard, has a good story to tell, and she has had several strong interviews.  This past week she went back for a third interview at a company that she really wanted to join. But, at the end of the day they chose someone else. She was very disappointed and worried that perhaps she was aiming too high or that her focus was too narrow.

There is no question that one of the hardest moments in any job search is getting to the final round for a job you really want only to get the call letting you know that they have chosen someone else. These situations can be doubly deflating for you 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.

We want to dissuade you of those ideas. If you are a finalist candidate 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 back in the hunt. By the time you are interviewing – and doing well enough to be a finalist – many of the issues that swing it one way or the other are out of your control. Perhaps the successful candidate has a couple of years’ experience and you don’t. 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 haven’t 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 actually get an HR person or hiring manager to give you some constructive feedback. Our client did ask for feedback and basically 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 know that I could come in and make a strong contribution, and I would love to work for you.” Say it with confidence and with a smile.

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, or 60-398-7278 for a free consultation.