When we don’t get hired for a job, we often assume we were overlooked because of reasons like a lack of skills, the way we presented ourself wasn’t polished enough, or we didn’t meet the hiring manager’s personal preference. Many times hiring managers turn down people they would actually like to hire because that person doesn’t fit the business’ culture. It is similar to them telling you, “Yes, you are qualified, but you wouldn’t be happy here.”

Have you ever noticed how many questions on job questionnaires concern things like your preference for a busy or relaxed workload or how much you enjoy talking to people during the day? If you are the type of person who thrives on constantly pushing yourself or if you go a little stir-crazy whenever there is a lull in the workday, you will be miserable and unmotivated at a job where the workload isn’t very demanding and you have to find projects to fill your time. Or if you are a friendly, chatty person, you would probably not enjoy working at a business where the business’ management and clientele expect a more reserved personality. If you state on your application that you left a place of employment because of an irregular schedule, they may turn you down because they know their schedule is often erratic. Some managers will inform you that they are making that choice but many won’t.

There are two things you can do about this.

#1. Thoroughly research a business or company before applying.

Pay attention to how they sell themselves on their website, and notice key phrases used in the content. Read their corporate mission statement. If the business is a place you can visit as a customer, go in and hang out for a while to see what day-to-day operations are like. Talk to current employees. Get on LinkedIn and communicate with current and past employees of the company. Find the managers of the business and try to get a feel for their personality based on their actions in the building or their LinkedIn profile. You may discover that you and this business don’t mesh without ever talking to anyone because the people they choose to employ all demonstrate a personality or image that you don’t fit.

#2. Ask questions

During the job interview, bring up potential deal-breakers yourself. Ask what the schedule is like or how a daily workload goes. If you were previously a salesperson and you know you want to be a bookkeeper talking to a much smaller number of people in a day, point out your desire for a change of career in the conversation. You may convince the hiring manager to hire you anyway or you may realize for yourself that you don’t really want the job.

A job is like a relationship of sorts. It needs to be a good match, and you can’t always check qualifications off a list to determine a person’s fit. It also requires a lot of communication. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to discover if the job is right for you.


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