Michael Tuso is Director of Revenue Performance at the tech firm Chili Piper, a pioneer in Buyer Enablement.
I’ve interviewed thousands of job candidates and trained hundreds of employees and recent college grads. My years of hiring experience have revealed a clear pattern. The following are the top reasons I didn’t hire you and tips on how to improve to land the position you want.
1. You immediately come across as having a “to me” worldview.
The most common reason I reject a candidate is that they view the world as happening “to them”, rather than actively creating the world around them.
There are two types of people. “As me” people own their success or failure: it’s incumbent upon them and no one else. They establish certainty with their audience and exude pure confidence. “To me” people do the opposite: they blame everyone else and are more likely to have excuses.
For example, I asked a candidate to hop on a call to do a mock roleplay “call” with me. After the call, I said,
“On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate your performance on that roleplay?” The candidate said a 7.
“Why did you give yourself that score?” I asked.
The candidate said, "I don’t know anything about the product. I felt if you gave me that beforehand, I could’ve done much better. I also didn’t have enough time to prepare.”
“Okay," I said, "so what would you do differently to bring the score to a 10?”
"I'd just be more educated about the product and have more time to prepare," They replied.
This person completely missed the point of my question. The assignment may not have been completely fair, but it’s a roleplay, not a real assignment. It’s designed to see how you react, not to see how well you’d actually do in front of prospects. I would never let you go in front of a client ill-prepared.
There’s a baseline of skills that hiring managers seek, but what is crucially important is seeing how you react or respond. Take ownership of everything.
2. You don’t possess the minimum skill set threshold needed for the role.
My main piece of advice here is to try to do the work of a job you want before you have it. Find a bridge from where you are today to where you want to be. You need to possess the skills and knowledge of the position you want to appeal to a hiring manager. And even though many companies will develop and train, more often than not, the ownership falls on the applicants when there’s a void.
3. You weren’t direct and didn’t showcase your accomplishments.
You should establish such a level of certainty in the interviewer that there's no doubt they should hire you. You want them to want to fight for you. Get right to the point. Provide just enough detail so it satisfies the answer without overdoing it.
I often have applicants go on long tangents. Confident people say what they need to in as few words as possible. Have you ever watched the way a CEO talks versus an entry-level employee?
While being direct, also tie your answers back to accomplishments rather than duties. Build certainty in the eyes of your audience.
4. You didn’t ask me compelling questions.
Interviews are two-way streets, yet candidates act like the hiring managers are holding them hostage. Write down numerous in-depth questions about the actual role. Being on the business side of the company, I care when people ask me in-depth questions about the role. This is your opportunity to show interest and demonstrate that you have done your homework.
My rule here is to be specific and get to the heart of what the hiring manager cares about in an authentic way that shows you are also aligned with what they care about. Any preparation for an interview should prompt questions. Questions show curiosity, genuine interest, and to me, is the first demonstration of aptitude for the position.
Be compelling with your questions.
5. Your tonality was completely off.
I liken this concept to people who have spatial awareness and those who don’t. You know those strangers who get way too close and are borderline invading your space, but you can tell they have no idea? That’s how I think about tonality. It’s an issue of awareness. Are you aware of how you come across to other human beings?
Tonality is a direct reflection of your energy, and people don’t want to be around people with low energy. Energy helps you drive everything, so reflect that in your tonality.
When you’re speaking sporadically throughout an entire day, ask yourself, “How am I coming across to the person who is listening?”
Tonality, in a nutshell, is our built-in first impression. Especially if someone can’t see you (like during a phone interview).
- Instead of trying to “find” your purpose and passions, start creating them.
- Build your own dream instead of searching for it.
- Nail your interview and sound like a boss.
- In the least egotistical way possible, if they reject you, view it as being their loss - not yours.
- Find a takeaway from the experience. Look at it as “Oh, it wasn’t the right fit - but what could I have learned from that?” and quickly move on.
After evaluating the hundreds of interviews I’ve conducted with the candidates who were hired versus those that were not, my biggest takeaway is that gratitude and the ability to learn are chief above all else. And that key realization, even in my own career, has changed everything.
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