10 Reasons Why I Won’t Hire You

or, Ten Reasons you’ll get Rejected for the Job you Want.

by Chere Estrin

I’m jaded, I know it. Right now, I’m cynical, sarcastic and frustrated. Even I wouldn’t want to work for me. But – (and there’s always a “but”, isn’t there?), I have had just the most straining, draining and downright paining time trying to hire a couple of people. Let me explain, please.  

There comes a time when you just have to expand your career. I’ve given that little no-brainer out since I started leading seminars years ago. I see that it’s even more important now that I’ve been CEO of a legal staffing firm specializing in locating top legal talent for AMLAW 200 firms.

This is one of my Hall of Fame articles! I wrote this article almost 10 years ago, it received a massive response, not all good. Some took the title personally.

I’ve updated this article for 2023. Share your thoughts below – what do you think?

At Estrin Legal Staffing, we give out a lot of advice about career strategy and direction; resume evaluation; interviewing techniques, “where do I go from here?”, plus how to get there from here, stress and burnout, difficult bosses and co-workers, continuing education and solutions for on-the-job situations. A lot of this goes beyond basic Legal Staffing duties. Yet, if you’ve been following my blog, my career or have worked with us at Estrin Legal Staffing, you know I genuinely care about the people we work with.

Somewhere along the line, I had an “is-that-true?” moment. People had no clue why they weren’t being hired. I would hear lots of complaints and heartbreaking stories. I could see through some whining such as “there are no jobs out there” or “I’m entry-level and no one wants to give me a break.” The biggest contender: “It’s pure age-discrimination, through and through.” A lot of the time, it seemed it was always someone else’s fault.

My experience revealed there may not be as many “no jobs/age discrimination/no one wants entry level” situations as people think. Sure, those things exist. However, many times the candidate was simply in denial.

The manner in which some candidates were approaching their job search was not going to land them a position with anyone, ever. The funny thing is, none of them thought they’re doing anything wrong. After all, they wrote a great resume, cover letter, wore their Sunday Best and gave ’em hell during the interview. Someone needs to break the news. People who don’t get jobs think the advice is not applicable to them. It’s for someone else.

Here’s what I went through, here’s why they didn’t get hired, and here’s what I really wanted to say: 

1. You have no current training.

There are no webinars, courses, seminars or anything else on your resume demonstrating you have kept your skills up-to-date. It’s even worse for those out of work whose attitude is it’s the firm’s responsibility to pay for continuing education, and they have no firm. Or, you are working but the firm doesn’t budget CLE, so you don’t go. How am I supposed to trust your knowledge? Is your current firm involved in training, training, training? I doubt it.

I also hate seeing people take minimum CLE just to fulfill state or association requirements. Do you think you know everything you need to know to do your job forever? If so, you should be president. And even that could take a little extra training.

2. I looked up your LinkedIn profile and Facebook page before I invited you to interview.

You may think employers are checking Facebook to see if you’re that 20-year-old posting pictures of you and your buddies wildly drunk at a party. Or, they say they avoid Facebook because it is a “social” situation and not relevant. Not quite. They peek anyway. How you behave in some social settings can spill over into your social skills in the office. How about where you got into a public argument on your FB page with Sally over some petty little thing? Remember how it escalated into the War of Words? It was all about your criticism of typos in her posts.

Was that your attempt at leadership? Hmmm. It probably wasn’t the wisest thing to publicly tear someone down, and I wasn’t particularly fond of the fact you encouraged your FB friends to jump in and defend you. Not my idea of a leader. Here’s an indication of what situations may show up on the job. Red alert! No thanks.

Oh, and by the way, LinkedIn showed different dates and firms than what’s on your resume. It didn’t seem to be updated, either. No thanks, once again.

3. You have too many issues such as: needing to work special hours, you have to work from home certain days, need vast amounts of time off to take care of family problems, etc.

Your billable hours at your last job were what again?

4. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise during the interview.

I figured you had a hearing problem, so I didn’t usher you out.

No one talks over the interviewer. Really, they don’t.

5. You refused to follow directions when asked to send your resume.

Don’t respond by saying “check my LinkedIn profile” when I ask you to send a resume. I don’t care what the magazine articles tell you. I have hundreds of resumes to review all by myself. I am not going to go through each candidate’s LinkedIn profile, make notes, try and cut and paste and incur all that extra work. What makes you think it’s ok to go against instructions? Then, you kept calling to see if I got your email and asking when was I going to schedule an interview. Annoying, really annoying. What this clearly says is, “This person cannot follow directions and wants to do things his way.” No thanks.

6. Your answers sounded rehearsed, routine and repetitious.

I heard no enthusiasm for the field, no real desire for the job and no knowledge of what we’re doing. Your answers to why you left your last and prior positions were: “For a better challenge” or “I was recruited away” or “for more money.” Yuck! Mr. Creativity over here. Can we get just a little more honest?

7. You were not relating to the job I had to offer.

Whatever it was you wanted, I wasn’t the person who was going to give it to you. Your answers were so far off base, I thought you dropped in to the wrong interview. You knew nothing about my organization, me, the job nor how your skills related to this position. You spent most of the interview talking about your talent and experience that had no relevance to the job.

8. You simply interview badly.

I shouldn’t have asked you in after that ridiculous phone interview but I wanted to give you a chance. When am I going to learn? Never second guess your gut feeling. It’s based on experience. I think you walked out of the interview thinking you aced it. Now I understand the phrase, “Ignorance is bliss.”

9. Your grammar was so bad, it was embarrassing.

It’s hard to believe you went all the way through college. On second thought, I’d better check that fact first. I also have no issue that English is your second language. I wish I could speak more than one. However, your written grammar made no sense and it’s my reputation at stake. ESL or not, any usage of bad grammar and incorrect wording is going to reflect on me—not you. I’m not taking the risk because I have a soft spot somewhere in my heart and I like you. No way.

10. You showed a lot of disrespect.

Recently, I posted a job opening on various LinkedIn groups. I was flooded with hundreds of resumes. I posted that it was going to take some time to get back to everyone and for those who have been accepted, I would set up a telephone conference to further discuss their qualifications. I received one post—on a public forum, mind you—from a paralegal who said, “Chere, I don’t need to get your posts for your job over and over. When you’re ready, I’ll take your call. Until then, stop sending me notices.”

Really? To a prospective employer? Let’s not even address the arrogance or rudeness. This egotistical, self-obsessed diva doesn’t know that if you set your settings to receive every answer to every discussion on LinkedIn, you get a copy of the original post. She thinks I am personally sending her the post over and over. How savvy is that? My response? “Ginny: I only posted once to this group. A wonderful thing happened! I received 97 resumes in two days! Did I mention one of the qualifications is great client relationship skills?” As you might expect, she didn’t get a call back for an interview.

There. Got that out of my system.  I needed that. Thanks for letting me vent. {sigh}

Chere Estrin is the CEO of Estrin Legal Staffing, a top nationwide staffing organization with a five-star Google Business Review rating.  She has been a well-known name in the field for over 20 years. She was recently interviewed by The Wall Street Journal and Fortune Magazine (www.estrinreport.com) and was named “One of the Top Women Leaders in Los Angeles” She has written 10 books on legal careers, hundreds of articles and has been written up in publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Trib, Newsweek, Entrepreneur and others. She received the prestigious Los Angeles/Century City Women of Achievement Award and was a finalist for the Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year award. Chere is a founder of the well-known nationwide Paralegal SuperConferences and a co-founding member of IPMA (International Practice Management Association).. She gives numerous webinars including those for Lawline and LawPractice. She is a former administrator at an AmLaw 200 firm and Sr. Vice President in a $5 billion company. Reach out at: chere@estrinlegalstaffing.com or visit her website at www.EstrinLegalStaffing.com.

3 Replies to “10 Reasons Why I Won’t Hire You”

  1. Thank YOU for writing a concise description of the “don’ts” for interviewing. I’m sure many of us could add another hundred dont’s but these are the basics and should be a must read before anyone sets out to search for a job.

  2. Such a negative article….a thousand different ways this could have been spun in a more positive manner. It is challenging enough for qualified paralegals to find great workplaces worthy of us. To call it whinning is really small minded.

  3. The bitchiness of your tone leads me to believe that you may very well have started your own firm because YOU couldn’t get a job.

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