Well, you probably didn’t do anything wrong, and there probably isn’t anything wrong with you. You may have met all the technical qualifications and were correct to assume you could have done the job. But quite simply, you may not have fit the corporate culture.
Every organization has a unique culture that includes values, operating style, and behavioral expectations. Astute hiring managers will readily recognize who fits their organization and who is likely to succeed. One of them may have done you a huge favor by not force-fitting you into their culture. Of course, they aren’t going to tell you that. And, you’re not going to feel real great about this when you thought you “had it in the bag.” Here you were diligently seeking employment, wanting desperately to be in the workforce, and now just one more very personal rejection to further diminish your self-confidence. In time, however, when you finally land the “right job” in the “right culture,” then you’ll realize all the pieces really didn’t fit “back then.”
Many people who fail to be successful in a job may not fail because of lack of technical skills, may not fail because of intellectual incompetence, may not fail because of a poor work ethic; but may fail because they are just in the wrong place with the wrong circumstances. It’s like trying to force a square peg into a round hole.
Once you are tuned-in to the importance of culture, you can take a proactive approach to marketing yourself and specifically ‘target’ those organizations where you will succeed. This is not to say that all employment rejections and failures are directly linked to culture. We all know there are myriad other reasons for both, but culture is a critical component. By doing your research beforehand, you can self-qualify your leads and conserve your time and energies.
Thoroughly explore company Web sites; they are an invaluable resource for acquainting yourself with their mission, vision, objectives and organizational structure.
Work Your Network
If you have the advantage of being acquainted with former or present employees, by all means make respectful inquiries and cautious assessments of their comments.
Recon Your Surroundings
Arrive early for interviews - this is the time to raise your antenna high. You can learn a great deal by scrutinizing the physical surroundings. If it is a suburban location and security permits, drive around the grounds and take note of such amenities as outdoor dining areas, recreational facilities, walking trails, etc. Once inside, make your time in the reception area count. Forget the magazines on the end tables. Instead, note the verbal exchanges between employees. Do they greet each other with respect and warmth? Is it a relaxed, friendly environment or is it a rigid, highly-structured hierarchy? Do they enjoy a professional casual dress code or do they insist upon strict business attire? Notice if there are exercise facilities. Read the bulletin boards or plasma screens for employee recognition, general announcements and social activities.
Observe the style and tone of written communications. By all means, ask pointed questions during the interview. Do they support entrepreneurial thinking and risk-taking? Do they engender a team concept? Do they have flexible working hours and other programs to support work/family balance? Are people working extensive overtime? Are temporary employees on-board to ease heavy workload situations?
Finally, review your own past work situations; what you did or didn’t like, what worked and what didn’t. Experience is usually a good indicator for positive future decision-making.
Once you learn the value of assessing culture, your skills can be as finely honed as those of astute hiring managers. The difference is now you will be equipped to avoid potential career pitfalls and to direct yourself toward more predictable success.
When it’s all said and done, you will know where you fit. And, that’s where you want to work.