Is "Lack of Experience" Code For Something At Interviews? Watch

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quasa
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over the last 2-3 years, I have been shortlisted for interviews at some very interesting places, however a very common denominator for why I have failed the interview is due to a lack of experience.

My questions are:
a) has anyone else been told this is the main / sole factor for rejection?
b) why do companies shortlist candidates despite knowing their full employment history?
c) is a lack of experience code for something?

I know cynics will say " well why dont you get experience", however this is something I call the millenial chicken and egg problem: to get a job, you need experience, but in order to get experience, you need a job.

at this point I fell like I have been wasting 3 and bit years of my life chasing jobs which no-one wants to hire me for (or if they do, they sack me for some bs excuse such as "management changes" or discrimination related)
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SarcAndSpark
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I don't think it's a code as such, but I do think a lot of companies are reluctant to give really honest feedback after interview. This is partly because candidates can try to argue with it, and partly because it can open companies up to legal liability if anything they say can be construed as discriminatory against a protected class. It's also a bit less personal than saying something like "your interview technique was rubbish".

I've recently been going for teaching interviews, which are very different to the standard type of interview- and you usually get to meet all the other candidates. It's been quite a common pattern for me and my friends that there's say 5 interviewees, and maybe one is very experienced, and often (though not always) they have got the job. I've no evidence to suggest this pattern repeats itself in other grad jobs, but it's possible.

If you've only got one experienced applicant you want to interview, it makes sense to invite some other people who look promising on the day too- just in case the experienced applicant is crap in person. It's quite difficult to set up interviews (having to get all the senior people together, wipe out their commitments for the day and so on) so it's easier if a company can minimise the number of times they have to do this. This means inviting multiple people to interview, even if one already looks "best on paper". Being invited to interview doesn't mean you've got an exactly equal chance with all the other candidates.

Sometimes people can also bring up relevant things at interview that aren't necessarily on their CV or emphasised on their CV, which can make them look stronger in interview than on paper as well- and people who have lots of job experience may have better answers to "tell me about a time when" type questions.

It always sucks to get rejected, but if you're getting interviews you must be doing something right- I would think about improving your interview technique if you can, just in case. However, eventually, the right job will be out there!
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Themysticalegg
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(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
I don't think it's a code as such, but I do think a lot of companies are reluctant to give really honest feedback after interview. This is partly because candidates can try to argue with it, and partly because it can open companies up to legal liability if anything they say can be construed as discriminatory against a protected class. It's also a bit less personal than saying something like "your interview technique was rubbish".

I've recently been going for teaching interviews, which are very different to the standard type of interview- and you usually get to meet all the other candidates. It's been quite a common pattern for me and my friends that there's say 5 interviewees, and maybe one is very experienced, and often (though not always) they have got the job. I've no evidence to suggest this pattern repeats itself in other grad jobs, but it's possible.

If you've only got one experienced applicant you want to interview, it makes sense to invite some other people who look promising on the day too- just in case the experienced applicant is crap in person. It's quite difficult to set up interviews (having to get all the senior people together, wipe out their commitments for the day and so on) so it's easier if a company can minimise the number of times they have to do this. This means inviting multiple people to interview, even if one already looks "best on paper". Being invited to interview doesn't mean you've got an exactly equal chance with all the other candidates.

Sometimes people can also bring up relevant things at interview that aren't necessarily on their CV or emphasised on their CV, which can make them look stronger in interview than on paper as well- and people who have lots of job experience may have better answers to "tell me about a time when" type questions.

It always sucks to get rejected, but if you're getting interviews you must be doing something right- I would think about improving your interview technique if you can, just in case. However, eventually, the right job will be out there!
In a lot of assessment centres I have been to in corporate companies people are generally older than me. The most outrageous was an interview for a bank where the average age was 28 with years of experience and one person being 40. Whilst I was there a baby at 22. I was interviewed for a job where from the manager's attitude I had no chance anyway because he kept questioning why I had no engineering degree, was wasting both of our time. Yep congratulations on getting to interviews, maybe expand on your experiences with the STAR approach and make clear how your experiences benefited the organisation and how they related to the role you are applying for, the company's values and make clearly the benefits and learning points from these experiences.
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ltsmith
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>I know cynics will say " well why dont you get experience", however this is something I call the millenial chicken and egg problem: to get a job, you need experience, but in order to get experience, you need a job.

depending on the specific career, its not a chicken and egg. there are internships, placements, volunteering, programming projects, publications, certifications you can do. oh and networking also helps.
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quasa
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tis a constant thing I work on. however whilst I draw upon experiences fully, the reality was (according to the most recent one) that most of my work has been voluntary, with my only main job being locum (freelance) work, which is a bit of a problem as none of my reference are people I locum for (tl;dr I cant get a current employer reference as big companies are jerkwads and I dont use an accountant as they are too expensive / a waste of money if you are only working for yourself)
It always sucks to get rejected, but if you're getting interviews you must be doing something right- I would think about improving your interview technique if you can, just in case. However, eventually, the right job will be out there!
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t0m0king
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(Original post by quasa)
over the last 2-3 years, I have been shortlisted for interviews at some very interesting places, however a very common denominator for why I have failed the interview is due to a lack of experience.

My questions are:
a) has anyone else been told this is the main / sole factor for rejection?
b) why do companies shortlist candidates despite knowing their full employment history?
c) is a lack of experience code for something?

I know cynics will say " well why dont you get experience", however this is something I call the millenial chicken and egg problem: to get a job, you need experience, but in order to get experience, you need a job.

at this point I fell like I have been wasting 3 and bit years of my life chasing jobs which no-one wants to hire me for (or if they do, they sack me for some bs excuse such as "management changes" or discrimination related)
honstly its like you say chicken and egg. Companies want an experienced workforce and the workforce wants experience you're best bet is to aim for an internship/apprenticeship or take a job at a smaller company for a few months.
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(Original post by quasa)
tis a constant thing I work on. however whilst I draw upon experiences fully, the reality was (according to the most recent one) that most of my work has been voluntary, with my only main job being locum (freelance) work, which is a bit of a problem as none of my reference are people I locum for (tl;dr I cant get a current employer reference as big companies are jerkwads and I dont use an accountant as they are too expensive / a waste of money if you are only working for yourself)
The lack of reference thing is potentially a problem- a lot of employers, rightly or wrongly, still put a lot of store in references, even though no-one is ever going to give you an atrocious one these days and 90% of them are probably very bland.

I don't know what field you're applying in, so this may not be an option, but smaller companies can sometimes be a bit more flexible in their requirements, especially if they like you as a person and think you'll be a good fit. The pay often isn't as good, and the progression often isn't there, but for a year or two it can be a good option, and you often get the chance to wear lots of hats and get experience in things you simply wouldn't do at a larger company.
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quasa
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I do use star a lot, I highlight benefits and how I meet company values but yh I do keep a learning list from past experiences. But kinda related to your own experience re no engineering degree, they seemed quite fixated with how I have only had 1 job (albeit multiple freelance jobs) for the last 3 years.
(Original post by Themysticalegg)
In a lot of assessment centres I have been to in corporate companies people are generally older than me. The most outrageous was an interview for a bank where the average age was 28 with years of experience and one person being 40. Whilst I was there a baby at 22. I was interviewed for a job where from the manager's attitude I had no chance anyway because he kept questioning why I had no engineering degree, was wasting both of our time. Yep congratulations on getting to interviews, maybe expand on your experiences with the STAR approach and make clear how your experiences benefited the organisation and how they related to the role you are applying for, the company's values and make clearly the benefits and learning points from these experiences.
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quasa
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the field is healthcare. I have applied to smaller companies as well as NHS and tbh it is mainly GP federations / Primary care Networks / CCGs that give me the experience reason, although it is only my most recent job that they asked for a current reference (due to competition in my field, a lot of employers are aware it is quite hard to get references so they generally accept invoices and tax returns in leiu of a reference).
(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
The lack of reference thing is potentially a problem- a lot of employers, rightly or wrongly, still put a lot of store in references, even though no-one is ever going to give you an atrocious one these days and 90% of them are probably very bland.

I don't know what field you're applying in, so this may not be an option, but smaller companies can sometimes be a bit more flexible in their requirements, especially if they like you as a person and think you'll be a good fit. The pay often isn't as good, and the progression often isn't there, but for a year or two it can be a good option, and you often get the chance to wear lots of hats and get experience in things you simply wouldn't do at a larger company.
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(Original post by quasa)
the field is healthcare. I have applied to smaller companies as well as NHS and tbh it is mainly GP federations / Primary care Networks / CCGs that give me the experience reason, although it is only my most recent job that they asked for a current reference (due to competition in my field, a lot of employers are aware it is quite hard to get references so they generally accept invoices and tax returns in leiu of a reference).

If they know getting references is hard, it's annoying that they asked for one. I wonder if it could be part of a safer recruiting type thing, if you'd be working with vulnerable people, for example?

Are there any areas in the UK where there's a shortage of people who do your job? And if so, would you consider a move?

It is really tricky, and I hope things work out eventually!
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quasa
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possibly. then again they also ask for safeguarding accreditation (which I have). I have considered moving however I am unable to due to familial commitments and financial reasons (generally speaking if I were to move, I would have to move at least 250 miles away from home to work in unfamilar areas with no friends / family/ limited social opportunities + rent is either expensive or they want proof that you have been earning at least £16.5k/annum).
(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
If they know getting references is hard, it's annoying that they asked for one. I wonder if it could be part of a safer recruiting type thing, if you'd be working with vulnerable people, for example?

Are there any areas in the UK where there's a shortage of people who do your job? And if so, would you consider a move?

It is really tricky, and I hope things work out eventually!
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(Original post by quasa)
possibly. then again they also ask for safeguarding accreditation (which I have). I have considered moving however I am unable to due to familial commitments and financial reasons (generally speaking if I were to move, I would have to move at least 250 miles away from home to work in unfamilar areas with no friends / family/ limited social opportunities + rent is either expensive or they want proof that you have been earning at least £16.5k/annum).
Safer recruiting is weird though- you have to go through it for all teaching jobs, which is fair enough, but it's a DBS check, plus proof of address on top, and sometimes proof of employment history or something else too.

Yeah, moving isn't for everyone. I hope you find/get something more permanent soon, and then at least you can use that as a base to progress from.
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(Original post by quasa)
over the last 2-3 years, I have been shortlisted for interviews at some very interesting places, however a very common denominator for why I have failed the interview is due to a lack of experience.

My questions are:
a) has anyone else been told this is the main / sole factor for rejection?
b) why do companies shortlist candidates despite knowing their full employment history?
c) is a lack of experience code for something?

I know cynics will say " well why dont you get experience", however this is something I call the millenial chicken and egg problem: to get a job, you need experience, but in order to get experience, you need a job.

at this point I fell like I have been wasting 3 and bit years of my life chasing jobs which no-one wants to hire me for (or if they do, they sack me for some bs excuse such as "management changes" or discrimination related)
It's a common and very valid reason not to make an offer. What you see on an application form/CV is spin on the truth and often lacks the detailed focus on the priorities of the role - its very rare for a job advert to rank the role requirements and it's unheard of for the advert to explain the politics/challenges of the role. So that's why you get invited to interview, and yet can still 'lack experience' in the final judgement.

The most common thing 'lack of experience' can be used to cover is naivety - where answers lack depth or breadth of understanding, answers that assume the very trickiest things are simple to solve, that lack insight, that aren't politically savvy etc.

If you are stuck getting nowhere after 6 months, you really have to be honest with yourself and change some of the barriers you've put up. So in the case the OP has cited something like - change your mindset and boundaries and make yourself able to move 250 miles and deal without your current support network.

Or, think laterally and begin to build experience through innovative sideways moves. Volunteer one day a week/month somewhere relevant, save the money to join the professional organisation, go to a couple of professional conferences/events, stalk (nicely) people on LinkedIn and follow trails that lead from that - follow some professional LinkedIn groups, do some MOOC/free online training, cold call a few professionals send them a decent CV and ask for a coffee and some advice. Put all those things together and you've got more to put on your CV that is relevant, and you've got more to talk about at interview. The more you've got to talk about at interview, the less chance you make naive comments. For example, there's a massive difference when asked about changes in the sector between saying 'I think ...' and having a wild-arsed guess, and saying 'Well I was talking to the Head of X for Y last month and we were discussing ....'

Also, no-one gets sacked for 'management changes' or discrimination related - that's an example of naivety and failure to understand the politics of the organisation and your relationship to it. Dismissals are hard, however they happen, but you need to view them from the employer's perspective and work out why they made that decision about you. You may not agree or like it, but you only learn by understanding why the employer made that decision.
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quasa
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moving wouldn't be an issue...except for the fact i also act as a carer/ support for my parents (1 disabled, the other has a bunch of physical and mental health issues. whilst I have felt at times I should just leave them ,the reality is, Im their only child and they have no-one else to lookout/look after them)

I already do volunteer work twice a week, go to conferences and training courses, completed online training modules and network via linkedin. I honestly cant think of anything else I can do in my situation (and trust me, I have drawn my multiple experiences into interviews).I tried cold calling a year ago but lets just say nepotism runs deep in my neck of the woods - considering the changes in primary care contracts and the move to PCNs, the situation might be different now so it would be interesting to see how cold calling works nowadays.

(Original post by threeportdrift)
It's a common and very valid reason not to make an offer. What you see on an application form/CV is spin on the truth and often lacks the detailed focus on the priorities of the role - its very rare for a job advert to rank the role requirements and it's unheard of for the advert to explain the politics/challenges of the role. So that's why you get invited to interview, and yet can still 'lack experience' in the final judgement.

The most common thing 'lack of experience' can be used to cover is naivety - where answers lack depth or breadth of understanding, answers that assume the very trickiest things are simple to solve, that lack insight, that aren't politically savvy etc.

If you are stuck getting nowhere after 6 months, you really have to be honest with yourself and change some of the barriers you've put up. So in the case the OP has cited something like - change your mindset and boundaries and make yourself able to move 250 miles and deal without your current support network.

Or, think laterally and begin to build experience through innovative sideways moves. Volunteer one day a week/month somewhere relevant, save the money to join the professional organisation, go to a couple of professional conferences/events, stalk (nicely) people on LinkedIn and follow trails that lead from that - follow some professional LinkedIn groups, do some MOOC/free online training, cold call a few professionals send them a decent CV and ask for a coffee and some advice. Put all those things together and you've got more to put on your CV that is relevant, and you've got more to talk about at interview. The more you've got to talk about at interview, the less chance you make naive comments. For example, there's a massive difference when asked about changes in the sector between saying 'I think ...' and having a wild-arsed guess, and saying 'Well I was talking to the Head of X for Y last month and we were discussing ....'

Also, no-one gets sacked for 'management changes' or discrimination related - that's an example of naivety and failure to understand the politics of the organisation and your relationship to it. Dismissals are hard, however they happen, but you need to view them from the employer's perspective and work out why they made that decision about you. You may not agree or like it, but you only learn by understanding why the employer made that decision.
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PTMalewski
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(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
"your interview technique was rubbish".
What on Earth sits in minds of people from HR departments? Are companies going to pay for getting the job done, or for having interview techniques?

(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
I would think about improving your interview technique if you can, just in case.
If somebody doesn't get a job, not because the person lacks skills, but lacks interviewing techniques, the logical conclusion it's HR department's failure, and company's management in such case should kick out everyone responsible in the HR department.
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by PTMalewski)
What on Earth sits in minds of people from HR departments? Are companies going to pay for getting the job done, or for having interview techniques?
You've taken that quote very much out of context, it was intended as an exaggeration- as an example of something it would be unpleasant to read in a rejection email.

That said, nearly all organisations around the world do like to include in person interviews as part of their hiring system- what would you suggest instead?
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(Original post by PTMalewski)


If somebody doesn't get a job, not because the person lacks skills, but lacks interviewing techniques, the logical conclusion it's HR department's failure, and company's management in such case should kick out everyone responsible in the HR department.
But if you can't communicate your skills and experiences and point of view at interview, then how are the people who are hiring supposed to judge them accurately?

Most final interviews are not conducted by HR, and the final decisions are almost never made by HR, by the way.
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(Original post by SarcAndSpark)

That said, nearly all organisations around the world do like to include in person interviews as part of their hiring system- what would you suggest instead?
I do not suggest anything instead of an interview, I'm suggesting its a strange idea, of which I've heard many times, that a candidate for a job must do many job interviews to get interview skills which would allow him or her to convince the HR department. The idea is illogical as itself. If, let's say a graduate of engineering, spends a year on learning job interview skills, it means the person wasted a year which he or she could have used to improve his or her's engineering skills - the actual skills he/she would have to use at their job.
If HRs are unable to find the right candidates without forcing them to waste a year or years for polishing their interview skills, it's just HR departments failure, it means that they waste time (and money) of both candidates and the company they're working for. Moreover, if one needs the interview skills to pass an interview, it means that HRs are unable to find out about the skills, and let through those who have learned how to trick HR departments.
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
Also, no-one gets sacked for 'management changes' or discrimination related - that's an example of naivety and failure to understand the politics of the organisation and your relationship to it. Dismissals are hard, however they happen, but you need to view them from the employer's perspective and work out why they made that decision about you. You may not agree or like it, but you only learn by understanding why the employer made that decision.
so say for example ,you get hired to do a job and when you phone up to enquire about not receiving paperwork, they give a response along the lines of " the manager who was dealing with the position is no longer with the company and as they had not signed off on the paperwork, the position is no longer available";

Or if you were working regularly for a company before 1 of the managers left and after said management changes, the new manager cancels all your shifts to accommodate for their friends and family - would you not count that as management related (although I agree it is political / corporate bs).

Also losing work based on discriminatory grounds exists. I myself lost out on working for a company because they thought I was a woman based on my name (they wanted an all female workforce but due to Equality Act, the position had to be open to everyone). I have had to leave work in places where there were staff members hostile towards me based on the colour of my skin and religion (fun fact, if you're a yellow, non- Christian and working in a village in Devon, expect the local CofE priest from the local village and neighbouring villages visit you in the work place and actively try and convince you to convert to their sect of Christianity :|). Heck, in my day job, I regularly have to deal with racist, ageist, sexist staff and despite dealing with people who actively try to get rid of my, I still work like a Bo$$ and come back for more
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(Original post by PTMalewski)
I do not suggest anything instead of an interview, I'm suggesting its a strange idea, of which I've heard many times, that a candidate for a job must do many job interviews to get interview skills which would allow him or her to convince the HR department. The idea is illogical as itself. If, let's say a graduate of engineering, spends a year on learning job interview skills, it means the person wasted a year which he or she could have used to improve his or her's engineering skills - the actual skills he/she would have to use at their job.
If HRs are unable to find the right candidates without forcing them to waste a year or years for polishing their interview skills, it's just HR departments failure, it means that they waste time (and money) of both candidates and the company they're working for. Moreover, if one needs the interview skills to pass an interview, it means that HRs are unable to find out about the skills, and let through those who have learned how to trick HR departments.
As I say, it's not HR who usually make final hiring decisions- it's usually the manager(s) who will be directly supervising the workers along with some people higher up in the organisation.

It's not that people are being judged specifically on their interview skills- but if they aren't able to communicate effectively about their skills and experience to the panel, then how are the panel to judge these? As threeportdrift said up thread, it's easy to put something down on a CV or application- but often interview is where the people with the relevant technical skills get to really probe yours. If you get asked "How would you solve problem X?" and you could do it, but your answer is confusing and unclear, the interviewer may not be able to get a clear picture of your understanding- they can ask follow up questions but a) why should they have to? and b) if the person before you gave a perfect, clear answer, then they'll still look like they have a better grasp.

Also, the things that make you interview well are often an important part of many jobs. Nearly all jobs require some level of communication with others (within your team, with the wider organisation, often with clients and stakeholders). If you communicate poorly at interview, this may make people think you'll struggle with that aspect of your role. If you're still technically the best, they might overlook it in some industries- but equally if it seems like you're going to need a lot of coaching in this area and someone else is nearly as technically good and a much better communicator, it might make sense to go with them.

Equally, an interview can show how you handle pressure. Someone who is calm and confident at interview may well be a better bet for a high pressure job than someone who becomes flustered.

Interviews may also give employers a chance to test someone's problem solving skills, or their ability to think on their feet.

The things that make you good at interviews (being able to clearly and concisely communicate an idea to someone else, being calm under pressure, being personable) are attributes that also make you successful at work- or at least they're not negatives. Also, people with lots of experience in a field, tend to be able to talk about it easily, and will often be able to provide quick answers to questions. If someone is struggling to answer, or they give an inappropriate answer, it's often because they don't have as much experience in that area.

Clearly, it's not worth spending a year on these skills, but if you know interviews are something you struggle with, it's definitely something worth spending a few hours on.
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