Why Employees Won’t Apply For Your Job & Why Employers Won’t Hire You

Julie Checknita, Employer Services | January-18-12



A recent blog titled “Why I Won’t Hire You” offered professionals on the job hunt a fresh and blunt perspective on what makes an applicant stand out—and most importantly what makes a recruiter toss an application in the recycle bin.

As I read through the comments following the article, I soon realized that job seeking professionals had a few tidbits of candid advice of their own for recruiters and HR professionals.

Here are a few highlights from each perspective:

Why I won’t hire you...


1) You can't tell me why you like your current job: I always ask people what they like most about their current job before I get into any details about a role. Why? I want to see if you'll be happy working in this new job. If you can't tell me anything you like, or you tell me something you like but it sounds really generic? Then forget it, I have no idea what you want to do in life and you probably don't either. Come see me when you know what you want to do. I would even be happy with something like "Well, this job doesn't enliven me, but my last job, I loved doing XXX every day, and man, I miss that. It looks like this role will let me get back to that." Let me know you're passionate.

The worst answers? "Well I like the challenge" or some cliché. The worst answer to this is the kind where more than 50% of candidates say the same thing. If you can't be original about what you like about your unique job how can I expect you to be creative working for me?

If you have a generic answer like you enjoy learning, the challenge, helping customers - that can be alright. Just sound excited when you talk about it. Give me an example of a time when you got really fired up about it. I don't mind if it doesn't relate to the job I am interviewing you for, though that helps. Just expect me to ask why you think this job will give you the same passion – and have a good answer ready. Really, why else are you applying if you don't know this?

2) No career plans or vision: When I ask you what your next role is going to be after the one you're interviewing for, you should have a good answer. Everyone should have a story about why they want the job and this specific role. If you can tell me how this role helps you accomplish your long term goals, I'm much more likely to think you'll be happy here and work hard in the job. If you just want a job, why should I choose you? Someone else will come to me with their vision.

A good answer is a well thought out vision. You should have that anyway. Here is a good example: "I am looking to move away from working in my current small company to a bigger company with more career growth and opportunities. I want to rise to an executive level in the next 10 years, but my current company is too small to allow me to stretch effectively in that way. [This role] builds on my strengths in communication and project management, and will help me grow as a leader and improve my influencing skills. In a few years, I would look to becoming a senior manager…" and on with how this role fits into your life vision.

3) Answer my questions with conjecture: I will test you in a lot of ways. I will ask you to describe a lot of situations – where you failed, where you succeeded, what you would change, what you hate and what you love. Don't tell me what you would do in the future. Be specific. If I ask for an example, please give me one. If you don't have one, that's ok, tell me you have never been in that situation, but you have some ideas if I would like to hear them. Yes, I probably would like to hear them, but I might also have another question with different examples I would rather know about.

If you don't think well on your feet, spend some time reading through and practicing situational interview questions. I won't ever use one I see online, but it will help train your mind to answer, and give you fresh memories to draw from. I also don't mind when a candidate pauses to think. I will wait. I know everyone has different styles of thinking and responding.

Why I won’t apply for your job...

1)  Post ridiculous requirements:  30+ years in java, astronaut that has been in space 10 times, has god's cell phone number. If you are letting HR write the job description at least take some time to proofread the job position. Failing to do so, makes you look like a disengaged manager, a big red flag for professionals.

If you posted a job for an entry level position do not say I need 5 years of experience. Also, do not say the job is perfect for candidates right out of college, yet still expect 5 years of experience. It’s frustrating to not have enough experience for entry level work and yet to not be able to get a job to gain that experience. A few summer jobs, internships, great grades, motivation and good references should be enough for entry level work without x-years of filing and faxing paper.

2) If you ask what my goals are, don't use them against me. If I want to learn the basics of business; learn how to do xyz specifically; get experience in an office; get team environment experience; get customer support/service/relations experience; get managerial experience; and so on so that I can one day become an executive/maybe start my own business, don't say that the job isn't a fit for me because I have a goal other than, "Work here at the same desk for the next 45 years."

3) Do not post a salary range. You want me to waste both my time applying and interviewing, and your time screening and interviewing to find out you are paying 30% under industry average? Be honest, and post both the salary range and an accurate job description in order to attract real professionals that are willing to accept a salary in the posted range.

4) If you don't pick me after the interview, at least tell me and tell me why. I don't expect a huge letter that tells me why, but a sentence or two in an email won't kill you (unless you have 500 applicants, but then you likely did not interview all of them.) If I also, "follow-up and ask you", actually respond rather than ignoring me. I may not agree with your decision, but at least I'll respect you for following up.

Have any advice to add from either perspective? Do you agree or disagree with the opinions given? We would love to hear from you!