It’s not you, it’s your experience

One of the things that never gets any easier for me as a hiring manager is rejecting applicants. At this point, I probably interviewed more than 250 people over the years (it doesn’t help that I am always working in high growth organizations). Of those 250, I hired about 50 (generally speaking, HR screens candidates before I meet them). This still means I’ve rejected many. So what’s the problem? If somebody is not qualified, they are not qualified, right? That is essentially true. The problem is, there are also a lot of candidates out there that may be considered qualified technically, but not the right fit any number of other reasons.

To give some examples, I have been interviewing candidates for a rather senior technology role recently. The nature of this role results in a number of applicants with greater experience than I have. I have met some amazing folks, with incredible accomplishments and great personalities. Still, these folks need to have “been there, done that” in very challenging roles with organizations of similar scale. I could go on for hours trying explain why this experience is necessary, but it would not help.

The simple fact is, there are certain attributes of the SMB sector you can’t gleam from the Fortune 500 and vice versa. The challenges in high growth organizations are simply much different than plateaued ones. No ammount of reading, research or other preparation can ready you for this.

So, the next time somebody says, “we went another way”, please don’t be offended. Look at your experience, the organizations you worked for and any other relevant factors. Chances are the hiring manager is feeling really guilty about not being able to provide you a more detailed explanation…


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Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

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