The Zebra’s Stripes – The Fine Line Between Acceptance And Rejection

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 29, 2014 in Interviewing Skills, Job Search |

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Motion dazzle is the effect from high-contrast patterns creating visual illusions. For instance, zebras moving together in a group create a large mass of moving stripes making it hard for predators to visually pick out individual targets. This can also be true of great candidates. When a skilled and polished group of individuals interviews with an employer, it is often very difficult for the interviewer to figure out who stands out and how. It’s part of a recruiter’s job to see below the stripes to find the “extra” factor about each candidate to help the employer’s decision.

I love my work.

I truly enjoy helping my clients hire the perfect person for the job. I love working with my candidates to locate positions that are a great fit for their skills, experience and interests, and then helping them to wow their future employer in the interview.

This week was a busy week in our office. We extended four offers of employment for our clients that were accepted. It isn’t always the case that offers will be taken. There are times where an offer is turned down for reasons that have little to do with the position being considered, but more on that later. In my position, there is no better call to make than the one that helps bring a professional search assignment to a successful conclusion for both parties.

The flip side of that enjoyment is the melancholy requirement of notifying the candidates who didn’t receive the offer. It’s human nature to ask: “Why?”, “What could I have done better?” or “Why not me?” These calls were really tough for me this week. I had to notify nearly a dozen people who were in the latter part of the interview process that they wouldn’t receive the offer – when nearly all of them had told me they ranked the positions as one of their top choices.  All of these individuals had strong backgrounds and terrific personalities. Unfortunately, to answer their questions, there really are no strong, concrete reasons to identify what they could have done to make the decision go their way.

It’s often a tough decision for a company to decide whom to extend the offer to between two, or more, well qualified people. Employers often find themselves starting to split hairs over experience or skills that may not be material to the success of someone in the job just to try and make the decision. When it comes to that point, it could be any number of things that tips the scales one way or the other such as perceived length of commute, level of enthusiasm expressed in an interview, overall mid- to long-term cultural fit within the organization, or even something found on a social media site that an employer relates to – or doesn’t like.

Although the employer has their work cut out for them to decide between the dazzling stripes of the candidates, even when they are ready to extend an offer to their top choice many times it is actually the second choice person who receives the offer. Among any number of reasons the top choice may have received more than one offer during their job search, taken a counter offer from their current employer as they were resigning, or even got cold feet. If you are one of the top choices, your skills and experience got you this far, but don’t be too hard on yourself about the outcome of a final selection. Very often the second choice is selected for the offer due to the reasons mentioned – happily accepts – and goes on to be wildly successful at the company.

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