The Real Reason You Didn’t Get the Second Interview

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I received an email recently from a relative newbie to the industry who is currently looking for a job. She was frustrated because she had two recent interviews she thought went very well but she wasn’t called back for a 2nd interview. This is what I told her:

It’s really hard to say what gets someone called back for a 2nd interview. For me, in large part, it’s simply a matter of being a match. If I interview eight people for a job, a couple will be slightly overqualified, a couple will be under qualified, a couple will be a right match with qualifications and not quite right in temperament/personality, and a couple will be top contenders.

What I meant by that breakdown is that it’s not about being a “best” candidate. A lot of people think that the more qualifications someone has for a position, the better, as long as they accept the salary range offered. But experience has told me that someone who is overqualified will get bored and restless. This can lead them to 1) leave the position quickly for something more challenging, forcing me to have to refill the position, or 2) get frustrated and either act out or angle for a promotion before they have proven themselves with consistent, quality, focused work in the position they were hired for.

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An under qualified candidate will likely get overwhelmed, sometimes trying to problem-solve without the base of experience that would inform their actions. A candidate with the wrong temperament/personality can get bored or restless, not be able to keep up with a fast paced position, not communicate well, over-communicate, or any other behaviors that make it a mismatch. It’s a delicate balance.

Bottom line: A lot of hiring is like matchmaking. It’s not you, it’s not the position… it’s you and the position.

And then I went on…

I will say that you need to always, always, always send a thank you email by the end of the day or early the next day reiterating how much you want the job and send a thank you note via snail mail. The people who seem the most eager for the job sometimes jump into contender mode from one of the other categories, especially if they seemed under-enthusiastic in the interview, which can happen with nerves.

Yes, that’s right. A thank you note can take someone from a “pass” to a “maybe.” It starts with appreciating the time of the person doing the interview, and anyone else who was helpful to the process. Respect, and appreciation for the opportunity. And then, as I mentioned above, sometimes what turns out to be nerves actually looks like disinterest. “I don’t know if I actually want the job,” is not the impression you want to leave, especially if you really want the job. And, lastly, a thank you is a smart move, whether you are actually doing it because of the reasons I mentioned or just simply because it’s the smart thing to do. I want someone who knows what the smart thing to do is and does it.

I almost titled this post “Why a Thank You Can Turn a ‘No’ into a ‘Maybe,’” but I decided that didn’t tell the whole story. Sometimes there is nothing you can do to be the right match for the job, but knowing that, you want to do everything you can to look like you are. And yes, sending a thank you is one of those things.

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About JennyYM

Jenny Yerrick Martin is a veteran entertainment hiring executive with 20+ years in film, television, and music. She created yourindustryinsider.com to give students, recent grads and others a true picture of the layout of the industry, and how to break in, transition to a new area, or achieve more success on their current path.

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