Four reasons you didn’t get the job offer

July 12, 2018

As a legal recruitment firm, we do our best to provide candidates with post-interview feedback from our clients. Some feedback is more obvious, like when a candidate simply doesn’t have the most suitable skills to meet the client’s requirements. Other feedback, however, can be more subtle and sensitive, so we legal recruiters don’t always get the approval from clients to relay the reasons behind why they decided to go with another candidate.

Here are four common yet sometimes subtle reasons why candidates aren’t ultimately successful at winning the client over, and how to address them:


  1. Enthusiasm. If a candidate doesn’t appear particularly interested during an interview they can really damage their chances of moving forward, regardless of their prior accomplishments and pedigree.


Clients want candidates who are eager to join their team and who are bought into the client’s overall mission. If you are keen on the employer and you hear specific things in the course of the interview that genuinely excite you, make note and be sure to express them before the meeting ends.


  1. Preparedness. Employers appreciate it when you come to the meeting prepared.


Preparation demonstrates enthusiasm and interest in a role and also can elevate the calibre of your discussions with the employer, allowing you to ask more probative and sophisticated questions. Candidates who appear equally competitive on paper separate themselves by showing up with thorough knowledge of the employer’s business, especially for in-house counsel roles.


  1. Humility. Candidates who display a humility and willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed with the employer present exceedingly well compared to those who adopt a “what can you do for me” attitude.


Displaying confidence can be key, especially for leadership positions or more culturally aggressive employers. However, too much confidence can really hinder a candidate’s prospects, sometimes in unexpected ways. For instance, if a candidate displays confidence and ambition beyond their year of call, an employer may be reluctant to hire them at that level out of fear that they won’t be able to meet the candidate’s practice expectations.


  1. Cultural fit. Like “chemistry” between people, there are elements of cultural fit that are inexplicable. There are other cultural factors though, that can be evident and critical. For instance, is the team:


  • Casual or professional?
  • Institutional or entrepreneurial?
  • Collaborative or independent?
  • Brash or cautious?
  • Hierarchical or flat?
  • Risk tolerant or adverse?


Be sure to include the employer’s culture in your research efforts and to consider it as you prepare for and present yourself at your interview.


Like any professional interaction, every interview offers the candidate an opportunity for reflection and improvement. Not all areas for improvement are obvious, however, so next time you interview for a role, consider including the above points in order to ensure you present with your fullest potential.

David Namkung, Partner