Uncensored: 6 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting Hired

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Written by Jaime Laufer,
• 6 min read

Do you think that you’re killing it in your interviews, only to hear that the company is going in another direction or found someone with more relevant experience?

Are you racking your brain to figure out where it went wrong?

Well, stop wondering if it was that piece of lettuce stuck in your teeth or if it was because you were schvitzing from nerves. And it’s probably not your experience level either. I read your resume and brought you in because of your experience. 

I’m going to bypass the BS and tell you the real, uncensored reasons you aren’t getting the job.

1.  You lack conviction.

You remain neutral and don't take an actual side when you’re asked a question.

Which do you prefer, account management or project management?
I could really see myself doing either.

What do you favor, information or people?
I value my interactions with people just as much as I value access to information.

Ughhh. I hate the fluff. I’m not interested in hiring a politician. There is no wrong answer. I’m just trying to get to know you and see where you'd fit best in our organization.  


Pick a side and defend it. We want to hire people with opinions. At Digital Surgeons, our sole purpose is to transform problems and pain points into ideas, and ideas into solutions, bringing them to reality in a way that designs demand for businesses and brands. We can’t do that well if everyone has the same ideas. We want to hire new folks who will disrupt our thinking and bring something new to the table.

I’m not going to lie; there are some evil recruiters who are trying to trick you into saying the wrong answer so they can send you on your way. They’re few and far between, but they do exist.

But I’m not one of them.

I’m rooting for you. I'm just trying to get you to open up and be yourself so I can make sure we can tailor our interviews and the potential position to your style.

2. You are a walking interview cliché.

You must have read some antiquated book about interviewing etiquette and are trying all the tips in one sitting. It comes across as inauthentic and a little aggressive.

First off, you borderline broke my hand trying to show off your firm handshake. We get it…you're confident, but could you pass the Icy Hot? That's gonna hurt in the morning.


Your eye contact game is strong. It's reminiscent of the staring contests I used to have with my brother when I was 8. You win. But please blink. You’re making me nervous.


You wear a full suit. You look nice. You really do. But you didn't do your research, get to know your audience, or read the line in the email I wrote you where I said “Don't wear a suit.” We are low-key over here. Come as you are! We want you to be comfortable and to be yourself.


3. You don't let your guard down.

When I ask candidates about the last book they read, they often reply with “The Art of Computer Programming” or something similar. I can tell when you are bullshitting me. If that truly was the last book you read, be real with me on why you read it and what you loved or hated about it. Show me YOU. Your answers shouldn't all refer back to code or marketing. Be honest! Let me know that you read the entire Harry Potter series or that you hate to read but you just watched an amazing documentary. We want to get to know you. The real, authentic you.

We want humans on our team. Humans who have passions and hobbies that may exist outside of these four walls. We’re always looking for ways to pull ideas from different disciplines, genres, and interests and use them in our thinking and design. There are many times that we’re lucky enough to play in the area where our work and passions intersect.

4. You didn't follow directions. Please do your f*&#@#g homework.

You show up to the interview at the wrong time.
You go to our New York office instead of the New Haven address listed in the calendar invite.
You show up to the office instead of joining a call as requested.

These are sort of obvious and easy to avoid, but worth mentioning. This indicates to me that your attention to detail may need some attention.  

Going beyond this, I have even armed some candidates with exact questions to prepare for before meeting the hiring manager or CEO. Yet I’ve sat in interviews where the candidate, who I briefed the day before, stumbled through an answer that is not even remotely correct. I gave you a study guide! Why didn't you prepare?

This brings me to my next point…

5. If you don't know, say so.

If you didn't do your research and don't know about our clients or our values, just say so. We value honesty and extreme ownership here. I respect an “I don't know” way more than you trying to bullshit me. If I ask you about your experience with a certain software, tell me you haven’t heard of, or used, it. It’s OK not to know. It’s not OK to lie.


6. You didn't follow up.

The most sacred thing we have in this life is time. So when you go on an interview and spend an hour or so with your potential new boss, you should follow up and thank them for their time. Show us that you are interested in the job and our company. Show us that you appreciate the time we took to get to know you. It's also another opportunity to sell yourself and your skills. Take the opportunity to stay top of mind, show your interest level, and connect with your future team. A simple email or note goes a long way.


If you’ve been searching for your next job for awhile and not getting that “good news” phone call that you’ve been waiting for, it’s time to pump the brakes and consider your interview behavior. Take some time to self-reflect and determine if you are being authentic and human. We want the real you, not the version you think we want.


Want to be yourself at work? Check out our job openings.