We regret to inform you that No, You Can’t

This entry is a follow-up to the previous post: Can I Have This Job?

It seems that lately, most of my alleged “job leads” end up leading nowhere. I search for jobs, I apply to those that seem like a good match, and I occasionally get invited to an in-person interview.

Unfortunately for me, the employers tend to come back saying “We regret to inform you that we went with another candidate.” This is what happened after my most recent interview — which means that now I must start the search again.

It’s discouraging because I invest a lot of my time into the application and interview processes, but I rarely want to write about the experiences. The reason why I’m reluctant to publish everything that I’ve been doing during my job hunt is because I know that if I did, my blog would look like this:

Day 1 – I applied to a job that I’m qualified for.
Day 2 – I applied to a job that interests me.
Day 3 – I applied to another job that I’m qualified for.
Day 4 – I interviewed for a job that seems neither awful nor wonderful.
Day 5 – I applied to another job that interests me.

I did choose to publish my “Can I Have This Job?” article about the most recent interview I attended, though, because I felt like it was a good match:  I had relevant experience, I felt like I might really enjoy the work, and the starting salary they were offering was quite generous.  In a sentence, I wanted this job.

Consequently, I became excited when they told me that I was among the five applicants they’d be interviewing for the position.  I was even more excited when I met with them, and determined they would be a nice group of people to work with.  What excited me most was that after the interview was over, I realized that I had been talking with them for almost two hours.  I imagined that they must have really liked me.

I sent my Thank You letter and began the wait.  I’m certain that all job seekers are familiar with what I’m talking about:  You wait as patiently as possible while they wrap up the remaining interviews, make their decision, and then contact the “winning” applicant to offer them the job.  If that person accepts the position, then the employer contacts everyone else with the unfortunate news:  We regret to inform you that…

Now, I felt rather confident about this job lead.  I was qualified for the position, evidenced by the fact that they wanted to interview me.  Also, there was never a moment during my interview where I felt like I really flubbed up a response.  I did 80% of the talking, and was able to provide concrete examples to help demonstrate that I’m a resource person.  I honestly believed that the people I was interviewing with would likely be my supervisors for the next 5-10 years.

Despite how I felt, I finally got the call:

“We regret to inform you that we’ve hired an internal candidate.”

Though I manage to take these calls tactfully, I’m always bitter as a result of them.  I’m bitter because I know that anyone who hires me won’t regret their decision to hire me.  I’m bitter because everyone I know who has heard about my latest “hot job opportunity” will find out that I didn’t get the job.  But what I’m most bitter about, is that the more this continues to happen, the more I feel like a loser.

I’m trying my best to keep my head up.  I’ve put a period, convinced myself that I must not have been the best match for this position, and now I’m moving on.

So what’s the next step?  I think that maybe the best thing for me to do is to brush up on my interview skills.  I often manage to get the interview, but I regularly fail to wow them once I’m in the hot seat.

I’ve checked out some books on the subject (The 10 Minute Guide to Job Interviews and No One Will Hire Me!), but I’d be interested in hearing more suggestions from all of you.  If you have any good advice regarding Job Interviews or want to share your own experiences on the topic, please share your thoughts in the comments!

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23 Responses to “We regret to inform you that No, You Can’t”

#1 Nuan Prachakorn on 02, Jun, 2008 at 5:09 pm

You get jobs through friends…contacts. Have a look and see if you are operating alone. The system does not work for loners–they make philosophers, painters, belles lettrists, etc.–the “losers” to whom you refer.

But shitty employeees.

The personnel guy has a discussion with a buddy and the buddy puts in the good word.

It has little or nothing to do with qualifications. The most qualified people are invariably a pain in the ass. Listen–it’s just a salary…and the time you put in to draw one.

It is about your ability to fit in.

My best advice–spend time in the bar where your employers hang out. Buy drinks, tell jokes and make “friends.”

It’s not an economy, my friend. It’s High School.

The problem with America is fairly simple: no one can graduate.

Good luck. And Cheers!


#2 John on 02, Jun, 2008 at 5:18 pm

Are you only applying for jobs in Michigan? If so, you should probably start looking in other areas, esp if the employer is willing to help with the moving costs. Michigan is a pretty depressed job market.

Also, don’t feel too bad. I’m currently doing a CS job and I’ve had a bunch of interviews at other companies that seem excited about me during the interview process, but then I never hear back or I hear back that they hired someone else. It seems what people really want is a large amount of experience, so if you want to get hired you might want to keep building side projects of your own, or even just start your own software company.

#3 Jinno on 02, Jun, 2008 at 5:36 pm

Hey Shaun,
Quite sorry to hear about the let-down you had with your recent interview. I really hate that such a good person is being so regularly let down.

For me personally, I’ve only ever interviewed for two jobs… Marsh Supermarkets, and my current job at Perkins Logistics. I got hired at both, but again, not really the kind of high-stakes employment that you’re dealing with.

Everything I’ve ever done in an interview are the kinds of things you’ve said, but I really never put much of an effort into the interviews. I showed up in whatever I normally wore, and just stuck to what I knew. What was I good at, what kind of things could I bring to the table, what should they really know about me? I tried not to look down or under-confident. I tried to make it seem less like I was being interviewed for a job, and more like I was trying to be their employee right off the bat.

I dunno… I really don’t have enough experience to say anything that would really be helpful for you.

#4 TC on 02, Jun, 2008 at 5:44 pm

I would recommend setting up your resume at http://www.emurse.com The interface and features alone have helped me land a position. It is impressive to an employer to recieve a resume this way. Also the emurse blog has TONS of helpful tips.

#5 D.A. on 02, Jun, 2008 at 9:16 pm

Its interesting sometimes how hiring decisions are made. Its definitely about fit and the impression you give off. I was told by a colleague who helped interview me that I was chosen over someone who was more experienced than me because the other guy had his own ideas about how he wanted things done and the boss didn’t want someone who might be challenging decisions all the time. That was all that separated the other guy from not getting the job.

I find employers generally like people who are accommodating and willing to compromise. This attitude has helped me on a number of occasions.

#6 SDC on 02, Jun, 2008 at 9:41 pm

Now that I’m ‘older’ I think I’ve reached a point where if I were to seek a job through the usual route (Monster.com, classifieds, etc) I would come up goose-eggs. So I try to mix it up with geeks, make contacts, etc, etc. Think about it, do you want your future in the hands of some anonymous HR type person who’s gonna ask you that question about a time you were proactive and results-oriented? Probably not, but if somebody you know and trust says, hey, a cool job just opened up, or hey, would you like to work on this idea with me, that’s a better path to take I think.

#7 Steve on 03, Jun, 2008 at 3:24 am

Sorry to hear that your last interview didn’t work out.

I am also still looking (over a year now) and tomorrow I am doing my 5th interview for the same company. They’ve already informed me that it could take another 2 or 3 interviews with them for them to make a decision.

What’s scary to me is that this seems to be happening more and more. What ever happened to doing 1 or maybe 2 interviews to get a job..?

I can’t believe that getting a job now can take this many interviews, take so long (months) and then in the end you sometimes get the good old ”We regret to inform you that…”

I thought maybe I wasn’t selling myself well enough during the interviews but after talking with several other job hunters, it seems to be the ”norm” now for certain companies to do this.

Or another one of my favorites is that you see a company posting for several jobs you would be qualified for and you apply on their web site or through a recruiter and you never get a call/e-mail and several months go by and the jobs are still open. I relaize I may not be the ”chosen” candidate but at least do a phone interview with me.

Thanks for letting me share my frustration rant..

Good luck to all of us stuck in this twisted job search reality.


#8 Shaun Boyd on 03, Jun, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Thanks for all of the insightful replies.

I think it’s interesting that you say the economy is like High School. It reminds me of how someone once told me that an interview isn’t meant to determine if you’re qualified for a job: If you’re there at the interview, then the employer has already determined you’re qualified. The real purpose of the in-person interview is to see if you’re someone they would enjoy working with every day. In other words, the interview process is nothing more than a glorified popularity contest.

Of course, every recruiter and company has their own take on things.

Yes, I’m currently bound to Michigan due to my significant other. It seems that every time I ask for suggestions about what I should do, the replies pour in with the obvious suggestion of “look for jobs elsewhere.”

That’s one reason that I wanted to try my hand at writing, because I could do it from anywhere. Now that I need something else to help make ends meet, I’m becoming familiar with just how economically depressed this area is.

I’ve never tried to hone in on my interview skills before either. Like you, I go into interviews armed with what I know: What I know about the organization, what I know about the industry, and what I know about my own abilities.

Having read the tips in some of these books, I’m realizing that my responses to questions aren’t “polished” enough. I may describe myself as reliable, talented, and personable, but I don’t provide enough examples to accurately convey those traits. I have a tendency to recycle stories when I talk, constantly referring back to an example I already used: “Like I said before” and “As I was saying earlier” are two phrases I use A LOT during interviews — and according to the 10 Minute Guide to Job Interviews, this is a big no-no.

I’ve never heard of emurse before. Thanks for the recommendation.

That IS interesting. I think that demonstrating humility during an interview is difficult because you’re trying to sell yourself at the same time. If you’re too modest, you won’t be letting them know all you can do for them. If you’re too gung-ho, you may come off as arrogant.

I remember reading an article about “the confessions of a hiring manager” where the author explained how unimpressed he was by cliché responses to standard questions. For example, the typical response to “Name one negative quality about yourself” is something like “I work too hard!” or “I simply won’t stop working until a job is finished!”

The people have the right idea: The hiring manager is looking for a negative quality that can be turned around with a positive spin on it — but since the cliché responses lack originality, they won’t earn any points. The hiring manager said he’d rather hear someone admit “Sometimes I take things personally,” and go on to explain how they plan to overcome that than feed him a corny line.

It’s true that making contacts is important, if not essential. I learned about this job lead from my friend Lauren, who knows that I’m searching for a job and is familiar with the type of work I have done. Whenever she sees a job posting that seems like it might interest me, she lets me know about it.

After five interviews at the same company, I think you’re definitely entitled to a frustration rant. Also, I know what you mean about applying to jobs through a website. It’s almost as though you’re adding your personal information into a database just for it to be ignored forever.

Thanks to everyone for your sympathy and encouragement.

#9 Suggestion on 03, Jun, 2008 at 2:56 pm

When they call you to say you haven’t got the job, ask them for a reason.
Or bluntly what would I have to have done to get it?
Because there is something, if you can admit that to yourself it would be a start …

#10 AntonioCS on 03, Jun, 2008 at 6:36 pm

Hey!! Too bad that you haven’t gotten a job yet, but since you’re home not doing anything, maybe you can start working on the website, at least on the css for FF. The text is to close to the right margin, it really looks awful and the comment boxes go over a bit the right margin.

Work on those, might help you think of stuff you say at the interviews 😀

#11 Aldrin Deloria on 03, Jun, 2008 at 9:35 pm

Hi Shaun,

One good resource I’ve used is “http://www.linkedin.com”, which is a business social networking site. It makes it easy to reconnect with old coworkers, and they can be helpful for job hunting. Since I’ve used it, I’ve come across coworkers that now work for a different company, some in different states. It may help you network better.

best wishes,


#12 Stephen on 04, Jun, 2008 at 8:57 am

Hey dude.. cheer up. I put my resume in online job-searching sites for 2 months ( applied around 300 jobs, and attended 22 in-person interviews) until I got the recent Financial Analyst job in IBM. The whole job-hunting process was tough, but from bitterness at the beginning till the sweetness in the end, was such a good experience.

#13 TC on 04, Jun, 2008 at 10:02 am

I’ve been hearing more about 3+ interviews at the same company during the job hunt. Be careful, they may be using you to generate ideas or actually solve a real problem at their company..for free. During one of my interviews, I was brought into the CIO’s office. He developed his own crappy Access app and it wasn’t working right. He didn’t come right out and ask me to fix it, but that was where he was heading. By choice I didn’t play along very well and didn’t get the job. I don’t work for free. The job itself was suspect since the requirements kept changing during the interview.

I agree that having friends in the right place is the best way to land a job. But sometimes that’s not enough either. I’ve been there too.

If the interview runs more then an hour, end it yourself. Just apologize, say you didn’t think it would take this long and you have another appointment. I’ve heard that interviewers make their decision during the first 30 seconds of the interview. They just want to get a look at you. The rest of the time is just BS. If they really want you, they’ll ask you back.

Good luck!

#14 Jennifer on 05, Jun, 2008 at 1:01 am

While it may not help you find a job, there’s a good article on JobMob about job search depression

#15 John Q on 05, Jun, 2008 at 11:44 am

In a job interview, the applicant will typically be expected to do most of the talking, since he/she is typically answering questions. In this case, however, it seems that you could have been MUCH more efficient with your words. As an employer I once had to let someone go because even after several attempts to ask that person to keep the chatting to a minimum, he/she could not. That individual was working as my assistant and was wasting my precious time and distracting me from my own responsibilities.

I would evidence my statement that you probably talked too much simply by the fact that you write this blog. Several people I know with successful blogs are extremely chatty. It makes sense – people who like to share their thoughts do so verbally and in writing.

In the future, I would recommend toning down the chattiness and make sure you don’t spend more than 2-3 minutes on any given question. Some questions don’t require anything more than a sentence or two to completely answer. Just answer the question and go into as little detail as possible. To do otherwise makes you seem nebbishy/not quite with it. People like no-nonsense socially adept employees, not rambling half-wits.

Also consider that you’re not the only one who likes to speak. The difference between you as a blogger/vocal sharer and others is that others don’t think that anyone cares about what they have to say. Usually when someone shows genuine interest, a person will share. If the person who showed an interest continues to show more interest, the other person will generally begin to take a liking to that individual.

What’s worked for me in the past is to ask genuine questions that pertain personally/professionally to your interviewer. Show a little bit of interest in them and their work. Sometimes people have visual clues in their office that reflect their hobbies, interests, etc. Pick up on these visual cues. If you are interested in them (or at least able to convince them of that) they are more likely to like you and (the bottom line here) hire you.

Ironically, I’ve said quite a lot here. I suppose I could simply have answered the question with the first paragraph. This is a perfect example, then, of what NOT to do in an interview.

#16 Björn on 06, Jun, 2008 at 6:01 am

Have you considered Freelancing, I wonder? Many things are a lot easier doing freelance jobs. For example, when I see incoming contract requests (for example using jobserve.co.uk), it usually looks something like this: “urgent position in xyz, developer with skills a,b,c. If interested, call me on 0000). You pick up the phone, call them, send over your CV, and within days you might have a new contract job (if your skills are a good match). No shitty waiting for weeks before you even get a response to your application.

Also, I think you wouldn’t get to hear stuff like “it seems like you’d rather be a writer, so we don’t want to invest in training you”. I have lots of “holes” in my CV because I took time off trying to pursue my thing. If people ever ask about it, I say “I was trying to pursue my own thing”, and that’s it. More often they don’t even ask.

#17 MGB on 06, Jun, 2008 at 9:34 am

IT is extremely depressing. I have been out, looking for 15 months. What few interview’s I get lead nowhere. I sincerely hope you get something soon, I’m about to be living under a bridge someplace.

#18 Julia Penny on 07, Jun, 2008 at 3:49 am

After bad job interviews it can be difficult to recognize exactly what went wrong and why. Getting a rejection letter or just not hearing again from the company is disappointing. Bad interviews happen to all job candidates at some point but how you learn from it is the key to future success. Analyze the interview and try to work out where the cracks appeared. There is a good article “Why Bad Interviews Happen” that may help you at http://www.best-job-interview......views.html
Have you considered trying temp work while you look for a permanent job.

#19 Nuan Prachakorn on 07, Jun, 2008 at 1:31 pm

Sit back, open a (home-made) brewski–amazing what you can save with DIY, and have another look.

You already have a job you’re good at. People are looking at your site.

It’s really the money. It ain’t the warm social structure–the social environment at a cube farm today is a cruel joke.

Get your expenses down. Half the shit you think you need, you don’t. Stop shopping, it’s a pain in the ass anyway. TV sucks. You want entertainment? Read The Count of Monte Cristo outta the library. You hungry? Cook it yourself. (It’s just like writing….)

Take a down-market job to make ends meet. Or a temporary job. Repair computers–nobody knows how to use them anyway….

And then do what you’re already doing. Write.

The rest of it is grist for the corporate HR millworkers–the poor bastards trying to convince their boss what a significant experience it was stretching those 30 decisional seconds into 3+ interviews. It’s a racket, a dirty little game and somebody mentioned casting pearls before swine, did they not?

Look at the people in it. Do they look happy, healthy and productively engaged? Check the parking lot at the end of the day…. How do they look? Including the HR clone?

Get your costs down, work at the supermarket (whatever) and write.

Corporate despair is for those who need a reason to hate themselves. Leave them to it.

Character is destiny. Write your own declaration of independence.

“Can I have this job? How ’bout a nice sharp stick in the eye instead–it doesn’t hurt as much and it ain’t aimed at the heart.”

#20 GadgetPig on 11, Jun, 2008 at 10:34 pm


You have nice writing talent yourself! 🙂 nicely done and very thought provoking.

#21 Jeff on 13, Jun, 2008 at 12:02 pm


Just curious. I’m guessing that you started this website from a StevePavlina-like inspiration to follow your passion and make a living from an alternative lifestyle. That’s the impression I got from your earlier posts…

But if this website is (was) your means to not having a job, why the dismal adsense setup, why no mailing list, why no affiliate marketing? It’s a sad truth that money just doesn’t come to you magically from good content and a high traffic website. I know a lot of people are afraid of alienating some of their readers by monetizing their website, but it’s a small sacrifice that has to be made. That’s just reality.

I apologize if I’m being presumptuous. And I’m not saying that getting a job is in any way “giving up” (I’m not particularly anti-job myself). But I can’t help but think that this is Plan B for you…

Well, best wishes,


#22 Xandra on 19, Jun, 2008 at 8:05 pm

I know exactly how you feel and I agree with what John said that maybe you gave a little too many details. I’ve been out for months too abd have had trouble even getting an interview although I have been told my resume looks good.

I had my second interview last week, where the company recruiter called me and said they were looking for someone with my skills and knowledge. The position sounded great and I was referred for a second interview which also went great – this person closed with letting me know they would send me to the third interview but there was no date given. I heard nothing for a few days and then got a message but instead of an interview date and time it was a very generic message saying they were going through their other candidates and would let me know something next week. I am still wondering what happened to this other interview they were going to send me to – did they already hire someone else?
I hate wondering this but that is the feeling I am getting.

I am of course looking at other options while part of me is still hoping for this job because it sounded great in almost all ways. I miss the way things went a 4 or 5 years ago! When you had an interview they discussed everything and gave you a starting date after the interview!
Now it is interview – wait – interview – more wait – maybe a third interview – yet more wait and then maybe a decision.
Maybe in the small towns it is still an instant decision but not in these big cities!
All I can say is hang in there and keep trying!

#23 Brian on 01, Jul, 2008 at 9:11 pm

Wonderful and inspiring blog, thanks.

My suggestion is to meet up with younger professional musicians locally and ask them what they do for cash. I’ve found that of any demographic group, professional musicians are seriously committed to their art. By and large, they don’t accept anything that gets in the way, are committed, and find easy ways to earn extra cash.

Most of them, in a healthy way, treat their art as an addiction, and their temporary jobs as a means to support their addiction.

If you’re serious about your writing, you’ve got to coddle your dream and not let anything jeopardize it. You’re young, talented, and have the b*$#s to go for it.

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