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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Job Search Help

Dear Sue: I've been looking for a new job for awhile and cannot figure out why I haven't received even one offer, especially considering how close I've come to receiving one.

I am applying for executive-level-positions, and have been on close to 50 interviews with a number of different companies. I expected to receive offers from a few of the companies who seemed serious about me, requested references and discussed compensation with me.

One person who wanted to hire me wasn't able to gain the support of the other decision makers, and I was informed that they decided to keep looking until they found someone they could all agree upon. This was after I had multiple interviews and visits over a period of almost two months.

Another time I was sure an offer would be made after I'd had about eight interviews, including a lunch. Although it appeared as though they wanted me, I was told that they decided they needed to wait until they found someone who had more experience in certain areas.

I have a successful background, am intelligent, attractive, present myself well and basically do everything "by the book" when it comes to interviewing. This is why I am struggling to figure out why I haven't been offered a position. The thought of being led on again by a company and investing so much of my time is very frustrating. Do you have any suggestions? 

- Frustrated

Sue Says: Apparently it isn't uncommon for a company to ask a candidate in a senior position to return on four or five different occasions to be certain they have the right person for the position. When hiring at a senior level, consensus is important. It is important for all senior decision makers to feel comfortable with a new executive team member, and many organizations require all key staff to meet with a potential team member, said Lawrence Alter, president of The Arthur Group, a career development and outplacement company.

In addition, the main reason someone gets hired is based on chemistry. We hire people we like - it's that simple. It isn't always the person who's the most qualified that gets the job, it's the person perceived to be the most qualified. Ultimately, the candidate who is liked the best and the one the company feels will best fit their culture is the one who will get the offer.

No matter how well you think you are doing at interviewing, the proof is in the results. You say you have had close to 50 interviews with a number of different employers and that you are doing everything right, but haven't received even one offer. The reality is that most people interview poorly, according to Alter, and while he is not suggesting that you are a poor interviewer, you may want to examine your skills and attitude.

In addition, we both wonder if perhaps your ego is getting in your way. You refer to yourself as intelligent, attractive and doing everything "by the book." What book? Perhaps you ought to find a new book or new techniques that will help you get an offer.

Alter offers these additional suggestions:

  1. Practice responding to interview questions by using a tape recorder or camcorder. Listen to yourself and determine if you would like to hear those responses if you were interviewing yourself. 
  2. Learn how to understand the needs of the company and find what they are looking for in a candidate. 
  3. Do not assume that the companies are at fault -- be willing to accept that it may be you and your attitude or ego that is getting in the way. 
  4. When you can, find out why you didn't get the job, and ask for suggestions that could help you in the future. 
  5. Seek the advice of a qualified career management professional. 
  6. Finally, remember that people hire the person they feel most comfortable with, and the one they wish to interface and work with on a daily basis - not always the person with the strongest qualifications.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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