Not the Right Fit - Don't Change Your Outfit, Change Your Perspective

By Jana Kleinman

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Throughout the interview process, perceptive applicants who genuinely care about the process will pay close attention to what's happening around them. You know - they will look for non-verbal cues such as facial excitement and body language. They will also analyze feedback about "next steps" and hope to pick up clues indicating where they are in the hiring process. It's amazing how I've witnessed  Media Buyers' mental transition into mock Psychologists. If the interview process goes south, every applicant will always want to know, "Why?" This is a reasonable request, as the feedback should help shape the applicant's behavior for future meetings and help them form closure with that experience.

Here is an eclectic array of reasons why applicants may not get the job:

  • Applicant arrived late or didn't appear polished/client-facing.
  • Applicant overall seemed unprepared or the employment history didn't jive, raising suspicion.
  • Applicant wasn't qualified for the job based upon their previous experience (which is usually ruled out pretty early on).


Here is the most common reason applicants may not get the job:

  • The applicant was not the right "fit"


Let's pick this apart for a moment. What is the right "fit"? I think the visual representation of clothing is what comes to mind first, allowing your imagination to roam free.  This is a challenging concept because it doesn't justify any "closure" to the individual who spent their time interviewing.

How can you decode what the right "fit" may be? Use the 3 "P"s:

  • Personality traits: Someone who may appear aggressive versus assertive. A bit lackadaisical versus detail-oriented. A heavy talker versus a decent listener.
  • Passions: Some environments may want someone who expresses an interest in the company. For example: if you are interviewing with a publishing company, but you don't subscribe to the publication. Or if you are interviewing for a consumer brand and don't have experience using any of its products.
  • Pulse: Pulse is my way of describing how tuned in you are to the environment. Do you move at the same pace as the others around you? Can you communicate in the same language they do (including using industry buzz words)? Do you have similar life experiences and compatibility? Conversely, can you bring something new to the table to enhance the corporate culture? You know - teach them something new.

While it's my greatest hope every applicant receives the closure they are looking for, sometimes it may not happen. Try to think of the 3 "P"s to help guide, channel and reflect on your own interview progress.

Jana Kleinman
Strategic Creative Services  & Media Talent Manager/Staffing Golden Retriever

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