Why did “they” get the job?

Why did “they” get the job?

Who can tell me how many interviews are being conducted every minute of every day? I don’t know the answer, just curious if anyone does. My guess – it is a lot. Maybe even a ton. Of those interviews that are happening, how many people walk away thinking, “yeah, I got that job.” Going with my gut again on this, a crazy amount.

People are interviewing every single day. People are not getting offers for that very same job – every single day! Why is that?

The people we talk to and prepare for interviews know what we suggest they do and how they can best present themselves. One step further in this post though, I asked some of our hiring managers – CEO’s, CIO’s, Directors, Managers – what makes them hire the people they hired. Here are their thoughts – “the person we hired…”:

  • Researched the company – you have to demonstrate a sincere level of interest – “nothing frustrates me more during an interview than the candidate’s first question being, so what do you do here?”

This has happened. In fact, I recall an interview with a candidate at PetSmart who said – “where do you make the dog food?” Want to know the fastest way to not get the job? Don’t learn about the company you are interviewing with. Sure fire way to not be their pick!

  • They were honest and transparent. Do not stretch the truth. It’s better to say I don’t know (honesty goes a long way even when you think you should know the answer). Is how you are answering questions addressing the question head-on or are you tap dancing?

“I want someone who will call themselves out before I ask that standard question ‘tell me about some of your failures and how you recovered.’ If they get there first that tells me about their character and those people are usually more willing to lay it on the line.”

  • They presented themselves as a good teammate. Can you demonstrate projects that were accomplished as a result of good team collaboration and are you humble about it?

“Nothing gets me more than hearing ‘I’ and never or rarely hearing ‘team’ or ‘my group.’ More than likely YOU did not complete most of YOUR accomplishments. I love candidates who challenge me to ask the question “what have you specifically accomplished” because they end up only discussing the team.

  • They showed flexibility – most of us work in dynamic environments and we need that type of candidate

In my world you see fewer and fewer positions that are 100% structured and static. Candidates must have an open mind.”

  • They had no ego – leave it at the door

Setting yourself apart is one thing, but assuming you are the only one who does what you do is likely to get you tossed out of the running. “Think about what sets you apart – I definitely want to hear what unique qualities you bring to the role, but please don’t come off as the only one who can accomplish what we need done. You aren’t and you definitely aren’t irreplaceable.”

  • They were assertive/aggressive – depending on the role. Sometimes it is very appropriate to show your hunger and passion for what you do. You should certainly show the interviewer, through questions, that you are interested in the company’s growth path and trajectory to discover how aggressive they are planning to be in their market.

“Personally I like aggressive candidates – those who are asking ‘what is next.’” With this particular topic, it is very important to read the interviewer. Emotional intelligence is key. When you are certain it is appropriate, you should speak strongly and confidently about the issues being explained. This way you can come across as the solution to the stated problem and, more importantly, that you would solve the problem the way they want it solved.

  • They were able to demonstrate a passion for learning and growth are you a continuous learner and goal oriented?

If you are able to show that you are not only excited to learn new things, but have a record of identifying areas that you, your teams and your former employers can take advantage of growth in the market, that will go a long way. Again, keeping your ego in check while describing these things will be critical.

  • They were happyunhappy people can be depressing and they aren’t fun to be around.

This can be very difficult to do, but it is critical to the process. If you are depressed, have been looking for a job for a while or simply feel that, “they will understand my negative attitude” you are likely wrong. Talk to family members, friends or even your recruiter about the “tough times”, but to the best of your ability don’t bring it into the interview with you. “I remember when I was looking for a job – it got really hard to put on a smile every day, but I knew I had to do it. People don’t want to work with unhappy people and sometimes you simply have to ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ when looking for a job.”

Please add your thoughts to this list – it is not exhaustive, but definitely covers areas that are worth mentioning or worthy of repeating. I would personally love to see more people land the jobs that they interview for, but the harsh reality is that they rarely go as perfectly as we think they did. It can be a result of what’s listed here or myriad other reasons. When you land the job, please ask “what did I do to stand out?” and then send that to me – I would appreciate the help in building a better preparation tool for all candidates.


Allen started his career in retail, working for grocery stores and then PetSmart until getting into the staffing world in 1998. After working for one recruiting firm until 2002, he struck out with a friend to launch Phoenix Staff. Allen and his wife love the fact that they have a stellar team of people working towards a common goal – employing good people in good jobs. Outside of work, they are fortunate to be surrounded by a great extended family in Florida and California. A graduate of Florida Atlantic University, Allen is dedicated to his team and to helping identify ways to help people growth their careers and find a place where they can love what they do and where they do it. When not spending time with his wife and son, he enjoys running, camping, reading, working and rooting for the Red Sox.

Allen Plunkett, President & CEO of Phoenix Staff


11011 S. 48th Street, Suite 103

Phoenix, AZ 85044

Phone: 602.254.6363