I have written many times about the fact that when the answer is no, you don’t get much honest information.
There are two approaches that are typically used. The first is what I call “The excuse you can’t cure.” If you only had a CPA, and you don’t, there isn’t much that you can say. The second approach is to blame someone who “isn’t in the room.” I liked you, but there were other folks who interviewed you who didn’t and they didn’t tell me exactly why. It is a corollary of “blame shifting,” which many of you are familiar with from psychology class.
The reason you only rarely get a “true” answer is that job seekers, especially us financial types, tend to get argumentative. No matter what the “true” explanation is, we can reason our way around it. Let’s be honest. We are logical thinkers, and many of the folks on the other side of the table aren’t. We have them where we want them when they offer up a logical argument.
The problem with our classic “never give up without a good fight” approach is that we lose more than we gain. Someone has been gracious enough to pick up the phone and actually give us closure and we “beat them up.”
No matter how many folks you interviewed with and no matter how well you think each one went, what you can’t possibly know is how the competition did. And, there is a lot of competition for jobs these days. Assuming the position you were being considered for was through a search firm or through an in house recruiter, there were honestly at least 20 candidates and probably 5 very strong candidates.
When you know the answer is no, always be gracious. You have lost. The exact reasons you have lost (unless you didn’t wear matching socks) are for the most part unimportant. The question you need to ask yourself before you take off on the bearer of the bad news is how to make the most of this situation given that you didn’t get the job.
Let me start you out with Matt’s rule of networking: There are only 37 people in the entire world and the rest is done with mirrors. The meaning of this is that it is a small world. If a search firm was handling the assignment and you were a serious candidate, who is to say that they won’t get a related assignment as early as next week? Would you like to be considered for that one? (Did I mention that it pays more than the one you lost out on?)
Give the individual a hard time, and they will remember only that you are a difficult person. They may even make a notation about you in the firm’s database. Your many fine qualities will be forgotten.
And if it is an in house recruiter, who is to say the person they select will stay any length of time?
If you have any complaints about the process you endured, keep them to yourself. Yes, I know you would prefer to whack them upside the head with an electronic baseball bat, but contain yourself. There is nothing to be gained. Honestly, they don’t even know they offended you in some way. (It’s always about them.)
Is the discussion going to be about you and your hurt feelings about “not being asked to the dance,” or are you going to seize the day and thank everyone involved for “the opportunity to be considered.” My suggestion is to be gracious under fire.
It has happened more than once that the selected person quits or is fired in the first 6 months.
What better revenge is there than to have the folks who turned you down come crawling back when they need you?
This doesn’t happen a lot, but unless you have been polite, it won’t happen at all.