If you get through the phone screen, or even the interview stage, but no further, you may have ask for honest feedback and received the statement that you weren’t the right “fit,” or you weren’t a good “fit.” Liz Ryan says that “companies use it to say “no thanks” in a multitude of different situations” including (1) poor company performance resulting in elimination of the opening, (2) your salary expectations are too high, or (3) your personality is different from the organization culture and they fear it won’t mesh well. Careerigniter describes “fit” as being push out for “arbitrary reasons.” Ian Welsh has suggested that hiring based on fit “makes little sense.”
In my opinion, most companies are pretty willing to make Liz’s first two statements openly, if not in writing, at least verbally. I’ve been told twice that I was the last candidate to make it through but for purely financial reasons, companies have elected not to fill the position at this time. Both times the US promptly went into a recession, so I can’t say it was a poor decision on their part. I’ve also been told “this is top salary for the position – is that something you can accept?” It wasn’t, and we saved ourselves a lot of time and effort by getting that info out early.
Unlike some of the other comments above, most career coaches agree with me that fit is real, although companies may describe it differently. They also see it as the interface between company culture and a candidate’s personality. See Frederick County Workforce Services (“what they mean is that their personality doesn’t match the company, or possibly the supervisor the person would report to”); Dummies (“fit essentially refers to how an individual fits into a company’s culture”); Jaime Petkanics (“they want to assess how you will go about doing the job”).
Kyriaki Raouna says: “When employers tell you that you are not a good fit for the job, it has nothing to do with your qualifications and skills or how good you are for the job. It is simply used to explain how employers perceive you and what they think about your personality and cultural fit. So judging from the answers that you give in the job interview or – even what you post on social media, employers can get a pretty good idea of who you are, what you want, how long you are going to stay in the job and how happy you are going to be in it.”
While many of these coaches will also say that being rejected for fit is for the best, and you really shouldn’t try to change yourself to be a better fit, I tend to disagree. We should all be alert to feedback that offers insight into ways we can improve ourselves. If it wasn’t a fit, there is a reason it wasn’t a fit. You may want to remain genuine to yourself, so if the reason it wasn’t a fit is you are a party animal and when they Googled you they saw that there’s drink named after you at a local bar, and you remain proud of that, just accept that their culture won’t work for you.
On the other hand, if you gave off a very negative vibe and seemed very cynical in the interview, and that’s not what you wanted to project, then you may have an opportunity to improve your emotional intelligence. The article below talks about 12 competencies of emotional intelligence, at least one of which we can all improve. When you get the “fit” response to feedback, don’t ignore it. Look through these 12 and pick one to work on.