If you're getting plenty of job interviews without any job offers, it's time to think about what could be going wrong. Since you're making it past the initial screening, the problem is unlikely to be your résumé or cover letter. That means that it could be your interview skills, something about your experience that isn't obvious from your résumé or even your references. Here are six ways to explore why you're not getting job offers.
1. Check your references. It's possible that your chances are falling apart post-interview when employers call your references. Even if you think your references are glowing, you might be surprised to find that's not the case. It's worth having a trusted, professional-sounding friend call your references and make sure that nothing is being said that could hold you back. And if you find out that a reference is a problem, consider reaching out to him or her and negotiating a more neutral assessment.
2. Try some mock interviews with someone who can assess your interviewing skills. Have a friend or other contact conduct a mock interview with you and give you feedback on how you're coming across. The ideal person to help you with this is someone who has significant experience doing hiring, but as long as your helper is blunt and relatively insightful, you should get some helpful feedback this way.
3. Ask for feedback from past interviewers. Reach out to any past interviewers with whom you felt particular rapport and ask if you can buy them coffee and pick their brain for 20 minutes about how you can become a stronger candidate. Your email request could sound something like this: "I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me about the assistant manager job last week. I want to ask you a favor: Could I buy you coffee and pick your brain for 20 minutes about how I can better position myself for this type of work? Please know that I'm not seeking a reconsideration of your decision, just asking for any insights that might help me move closer to the type of work I'd like to do. I know you're busy, so if a phone call is easier, I'd be grateful for that as well!"
If the first person you reach out to declines, keep trying with others. Some employers won't give feedback no matter how nicely you ask for it, but if you keep trying, you'll probably find someone who will.
4. Look at who was ultimately hired for the jobs you interviewed for. Go back and look at the positions you interviewed for but didn't get, and see who ended up getting the job. Search the company's website or LinkedIn to find out who they hired and what that person's background is. You might learn that the people who are beating you out have more experience or a different type of background, and that information can help inform your thinking about what types of jobs to pursue.
5. Change the way you're preparing for interviews. How much interview prep do you do before each meeting? The reality is, the more you're prepared, the better you'll usually do. If you're not practicing your answers to likely questions and preparing examples from your past work that clearly demonstrate why you'd excel at the job, this might be why your interviews aren't panning out. Try changing the way you prepare and see if the outcome changes.
6. Ask yourself whether your frustration is coming across to interviewers. If you've been job searching for a while, you might be feeling frustrated or desperate. And while that's understandable, if interviewers pick up on it, it can be the kiss of death for job offers. If you know that you're radiating negativity, you might be better off taking a break from your search until you can approach interviews with less emotional baggage.
Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog, where she dispenses advice on career, job search, and management issues. She's also the co-author of Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager's Guide to Getting Results, and former chief of staff of a successful nonprofit organization, where she oversaw day-to-day staff management, hiring, firing, and employee development.