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I have been at 3 job interviews in the past few weeks and I am a software professional with 6+ years of experience. I get a good feel during the interview and afterwards and feel positive about the outcome but I have been rejected all 3 times. The recruiters call and tell me that I have a good experience and blah blah but they decided to go ahead with a different candidate.

I am confused as I am not able to point exactly what must be happening that causes the negative outcome. According to me I prepare as much as I can and I am not sweating it at the interview itself and manage to answer all questions with confidence. Now, I am not even sure that all these companies were really interested in hiring or just plain wasting my time.

How do I gauge really how the interview went so that I am not this confused in the future?

  • It's basically not your fault not selected but it's just you not lucky enough. You have a good experience, so keep applying for the job. There is a company that looking for a perfect candidate like you but maybe you not lucky enough to found that company. Anyway, good luck with your future interviews. Don't give up. – Nazrein Apr 9 at 3:27
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    Consider that interviews are (usually) designed to select a single person out of a large pool of applicants. Even if you're not the person, that doesn't inherently mean there was anything "negative" about how the employer perceived you. It's very, very common to have lots of "good" people to choose from – dwizum Apr 9 at 17:40
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Now, I am not even sure that all these companies were really interested in hiring or just plain wasting my time.

Seems to me that these companies took the time to call you back to inform of the negative result, something many companies don't bother doing. This suggest that they were not looking to waste your (and their) time.

How do I gauge really how the interview went so that I am not this confused in the future?

I feel that you are taking this a bit negatively.

You say you performed very well and felt that you delivered a good interview. You also say that, when they called you back, they mentioned you were a good and experience candidate even though you were not selected.

These things tell me that your performance was not bad (in fact, it was good), and that you didn't land the job only because the other candidates were a bit more experienced (or willing to take less pay).

I suggest that you don't give up, and keep applying. You mentioned that these were 3 instances... most of the times one has to apply several times (way more than 3) to land an offer, so don't lose your hopes now. Keep focusing and delivering good interviews as you have been doing and you will soon get an offer you like. Good luck!

  • Thank you so much for the kind words. I had a really bad day today and reading your answer made me feel better. – user163824 Apr 9 at 1:49
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    Not to mention the fact that the fact that they called ack with compliments probably means they want to keep the relationship friendly in case of future vacancies. – Borgh Apr 10 at 6:49
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It is very unlikely that three companies all brought you in to interview just to waste your time.

Companies are generally interviewing several people for an open position. That means that multiple people may well have positive interviews. Unfortunately, not everyone that has a good interview is going to get the job. Most likely, you just got unlucky that there was someone else that had a better interview. Not much you can do about it other than continuing to apply for other positions. If you keep getting interviews, you'll eventually get an offer.

Of course, if you've had 30 interviews rather than 3 with no bites, it would be time to start questioning whether your impressions are accurate and doing things like mock interviews with friends or trusted colleagues to see where you're going wrong. But 3 interviews is well in the range of simply being unlucky-- no need to look for a more nefarious explanation.

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It is entirely possible to have a good interview and still not be given an offer -- it's often not the candidate's fault. The fact that you've been given interviews is a good sign.

There are many reasons why a company might choose another person. Maybe another candidate is a friend of someone already in the organization. Or the person receiving the offer is a referral of a trusted employee, and the company decided that a referral was less of a risk. Perhaps another candidate has the exact skills the company is looking for.

One thing you might try is a "mock interview" with a friend -- either a peer in your industry or ideally someone who is in a position to hire people. Give that person the questions you were asked, or ask that person to create some questions.

You are unlikely to get feedback from an actual interview, but you can from a practice interview. Based on what your friend/peer tells you, you'll have a better idea what to work on, and how to improve in future interviews. Another way to improve is simply by continuing to apply and interview for jobs.

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We don't know why you aren't being selected and can't give you any definitive answers.

This process doesn't need to be a mystery. Ask the recruiters or the interviewers to give you specifics on why you weren't chosen. Ask them what you can do to be better prepared and to present yourself better in future interviews.

You may not always get those details, but if you don't ask then you'll continue to be confused and you'll continue to not know why you aren't being selected.

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    And keep in mind that many job openings only allow one candidate to be successful, out of potentially hundreds of applicants. You can do nothing wrong in an interview, but someone else just might be "better" – HorusKol Apr 8 at 21:44
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    @HorusKol even worse - You might be tied for first then lose the coin toss. – Dan Pichelman Apr 8 at 21:45
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Assuming a lack of direct feedback why you were rejected (which you can always ask for, but I wouldn't expect you to generally get it)...

Understanding what went wrong comes down to understanding how to interview well and reflection. Because you need something to compare your performance to, and the ability to accurately judge your performance.

You need to understand:

  • The reason they asked every question they asked, and thus the response they're looking for.
  • Common ways to approach answering questions (e.g. the STAR format).
  • Social cues, body language, tone and phrasing, to know what messages you're sending and pick up on what the interviewer might be thinking and feeling. These are important for any social interaction.
  • The best response for any technical questions (coding, design and language questions, if you're a programmer).
  • What the company is actually looking for in a candidate (because plenty of questions don't have objectively good answers).

None of these really have a quick and easy answer - you'd need to do research and reflection to understand and improve on them.

Having mock interviews could also help a lot, especially with reflection, in that it can be hard to notice one's own shortcomings and mistakes.

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My guess is that it has less to do with your answer and more to do with the traits they're looking for. Each time you go interview, they're looking at you if you're someone they could work with. If you're giving very standard answers, even if right, might get you passed.

If you think that is bad, sometimes really competitive programs pass people even some of the bests. Take a look at entry applications for places like Harvard, Yale, or anything of the sort. Or even grants, the space program, etc. Even the military top tiers like Ranger school. A woman passed the entire course recently but for no reason they can give, she wasn't selected.

Overall though it doesn't sound too bad. As others said, they're reaching out to you and contacting you. Just keep trying and don't worry so much. Try to be yourself at these interviews and not only try to please them but also see if the place is a good fit for you as well. Let it work both ways.

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