26

Something I've always wondered:

As a recent hire, is it okay for me to ask why I was chosen above the other candidates?

  • 2
    Why do you want to know, curiosity, insecurity? – Paul Hiemstra Jun 15 '13 at 12:10
  • 4
    Curiosity and I'd like to know what I did right so I can use that knowledge for future interviews. – Steven Jun 15 '13 at 12:20
  • comments removed: Comments are intended to help improve a post or seek clarification. Please don't answer the questions in the comments. These can't be easily voted on as the best answers, and they may inadvertently prevent other users from providing real answers. Please see How should I post a useful non-answer if it shouldn't be a comment? for more guidance. – jmort253 Jun 19 '13 at 2:37
  • 2
    You just got a job and want to drop hints that you want tips for getting another one? – JohnFx Jun 29 '13 at 3:19
30

You can, but you probably shouldn't.

People might not want to discuss this and you might not want to know the answer.

Answers that you might not want to hear include:

  • You were the cheapest candidate that met all our needs.
  • Our first choice declined our offer. You were our second choice.
  • 4
    I totally agree with this. Recently we have to give an offer to our second choice as the first choice declined the offer. However, our second choice is doing excellent work and we are very happy about it. Anyway, the important thing is that how do you perform once you get the position. – samarasa Jun 15 '13 at 14:20
  • If anyone that hires you tells you these things then you failed in your part of the interview where you are supposed to be assessing if the company is the right fit for you. It is your fault if you accept the wrong job as much as it is theirs if they hire you knowing you are not the right fit. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jun 15 '13 at 15:17
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    @Chad: Huh? If you asked for 'X' dollars, and that happened to be cheaper than what your competitors were asking for then how did you fail? If the company's first choice declined the offer, but you accepted then how did you fail? – Jim G. Jun 15 '13 at 15:27
  • 4
    @JimG.: For some people, it might hurt their self-esteem to know that they were not really the candidate that the employer wanted (at least not initially), they were the candidate that was cheap/available. I think more people feel this kind of distress in romantic relationships, such as "I'm only dating you because Bob is busy tonight" implies "I like you, but not as much as Bob, Fred, etc...". I suppose those feelings/reactions would be valid in the workplace as well. How much of an impact these answers could have might depend on how big the differences were. – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jun 17 '13 at 15:08
  • 1
    Huh? I would love to be informed I should ask for more money. – user1084 Jul 14 '14 at 21:14
5

I would not ask this on the first day on the job. Just accept that you have the job, and focus your energy on getting up-to-speed in your new job. After a few months, after getting to know your colleagues, you could approach someone in the group of people involved in hiring you, and ask them what the considerations where for hiring you and not someone else.

  • 5
    Since the OP has already been on the job for a year, how does this help? – Amy Blankenship Jun 15 '13 at 17:23
-1

"There are ways of getting people to talk". Sometimes, however, what you learn may not be something you want to know.

The presumption is that you are the most qualified for the job. If your boss has some kind of prejudice, however, you may find out you were hired on a different axis of consideration. These may not be 'the usual suspects' of race and gender. If, for example, a C-Level executive had to fire 3 MBA teams in a row (s)he may avoid hiring a fourth team of MBAs. If the last three people your boss hired were fresh out of the military and they're all still there, (s)he might conclude this is a safe bet.

The questions to ask aren't 'why did you hire me instead of (x)?'. Is your programming team all wearing blue jeans and sneakers with holes in them? Would a 'suit' be compatible in this group? Does your boss avoid certain areas of town because (s)he 'doesn't feel safe' there? Some organizations pay lip service to longevity, others really care, and try to figure out if they can't pay enough to keep more qualified applicants happy.

I worked for one company where the previous person in my role would only work after everyone else went home. About a week after I started in this job, my boss told me we already had more computers than we needed. In short, I figured out right away he considered the IT people to be a power center in competition with his. This would explain the inclination of the previous employee to stay out of the way, and at some point the atmosphere deteriorated and I moved on.

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