Am I Not Getting the Job Because I Don’t Expect To?

Job interviews are hard. Waiting for job offers after interviews is harder. Why not make it easier on yourself? Just don't expect to get the job. But is this self-sabotage?


One of the hardest things for me to do is to keep applying for jobs while I’m waiting to hear back after an interview for a job I’m hoping to be offered.

On the one hand, because I like and want that particular job, my heart just isn’t in it to look for a different job.  On the other hand, I feel that I need to have other “irons in the fire” in case things don’t work out with the job I want.  If they don’t, then even though I’ll be disappointed, I’ll still have hope that one of the other “irons” will work out.

This situation is difficult for me because I’m faced with two conflicting emotional needs.  My desire to feel excited and hopeful about a job that I really want clashes with my need to protect myself from a hopeless feeling of loss if it doesn’t work out. 

I’m waiting right now to hear about “next steps,” if any, after a job interview that I thought went exceptionally well.  It’s kind of sad that I have to try as hard as I do not to allow myself to feel too good about it, but past experience tells me that I’ve felt this way before and have felt a big letdown when I haven’t gotten the job.  What are the odds that this one is actually going to work out?  Again, based strictly on my experiences of the past two years, they’re miniscule.

So I try to contain and restrain my “good” feelings.  Sometimes I’ll let myself feel them briefly, say after a nice relaxing glass of wine.  When my self-defenses aren’t quite so vigilant, I may actually let myself feel excited about the possibility that finally, this may be it, I’m going to get this job!  Then I feel like – oh damn, I let myself feel happy and positive and hopeful for a few moments.  I just set myself up for a fall.

Obviously all of this self-inflicted emotional manipulation reflects my subconscious conviction that I will not, in fact, get the job.

I wonder if, in some below-the-radar way, this is coming across in my job interviews?  If – deep down – I don’t really believe that I have a chance of being offered the job, am I subtly betraying my true beliefs to the interviewer?  Are my word choices, facial expressions, body language and other non-verbal signals sending the message that I already know that they’re not going to offer me the job?  Any shrinks out there?

Of course, all the job-hunting advice on the Internet tells you to project confidence and self-assurance during an interview.  After all, why should an interviewer conclude that you’re the right person for the job if you don’t seem convinced of that yourself?

Maybe, after two years of interviews without job offers, I’ve gotten too good at keeping my expectations low.  Perhaps at some level, I now feel that a job interview is just an opportunity for me to go through the motions, knowing full well that I won’t get the job.

In order to blunt the emotional pain of repeated rejection, have I lost my ability to express genuine enthusiasm for a job?  Am I not getting the job because I go into the interview quite confident that I won’t?  Is it a self-fulfilling prophecy?

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Fran Hopkins March 14, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Related to this topic, I just came across a really interesting article entitled "3 Reasons Job Rejection Isn't Always About You." (http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2012/03/12/3-reasons-job-rejection-isnt-always-about-you) It does make the point that "It's also essential not to let (job rejection) get you down, because if you're bitter or fatalistic, it'll show when you talk to employers."
Don March 17, 2012 at 02:53 AM
The era of "Employment" is naturally declining because of exponential [1] improvements in technologies like artificial intelligence [2]. Its almost certain that this century will experience such rapid growth in technology it may well overtake our ability to comprehend it using today's mental models. [3] In fact, I would hypothesize that that is already happening. Thats why a lot of things just don't make sense to many people. At some point, we'll realize that the reason many people can't find work, no matter how hard they try, is that the job paradigm is no longer such a valid one, that maybe we should accept that only the very best trained and smartest will be employable, and then, only for as long as their brains remain sharp. (We also may figure out why people age and how to stop or slow it substantially.) Then our entire society's view of time will change. People will think in terms of centuries rather than years. We'll then start sending people out to the stars. [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity [3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Event_horizon
Don March 17, 2012 at 02:58 AM
In the United States, for small employers, discriminating against the old because of the huge cost of health insurance is perfectly legal. People who want to work well into their 50s or 60s might want to consider emigrating to Canada if they have the million dollars required in the bank. The healthcare each Canadian receives would cost $50,000 a year in the United States, if it was available. Simply by being in Canada, the average person would save around a quarter to a half million dollars on health insurance. Thats money people can save, build a house, have children. Here its just poured down a black hole called "greed".
Fran Hopkins March 17, 2012 at 08:12 PM
I don't think I'm ready to give up on the old USA quite yet, Don! Call me the eternal optimist, but I think that we can and will begin to correct our country's course later this year.
Fran Hopkins March 17, 2012 at 08:32 PM
This is an enlightening article that explains, from HR's standpoint, why it takes so long for them to make a hiring decision. (Sent to me by a fellow unemployed person -- thanks, EM!) http://aspyresolutions.com/2012/03/behind-the-scenes-hr/


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