Why You Didn't Get The Job

BuzzFeed's Senior People Manager, Erica Bromberg, shares what makes even the most qualified applicants get passed over.

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Once known for being a hub for cat videos, BuzzFeed is now one of the media world's most exciting properties. With headquarters located in New York City, the site was recently valued at a whooping $850 million! Venture capitalists with deep pockets are vying to sink their plentiful pocketbooks into the booming business, and their frequent hiring reflects this demand. Every day for the past five months, they've hired a new employee. And with this rapid pace, there are countless applicants funneling their credentials into the BuzzFeed Human Resources mailbox, hoping they'll be next in line.

Erica Bromberg, Senior People Manager, is the woman to know when it comes to getting a job at BuzzFeed. Along with her team of recruiters, she works closely with teams throughout the company to identify what hiring managers are looking for in a specific position—and we're they're not. We sat down to discuss what makes someone the right fit, and what can repel her from even the most qualified of applicants.

You have an overpowering ego.

You may be sure you're the right person for this role, but there's a definite difference between confidence and cockiness during an interview. In BuzzFeed's collaborative workforce, there's no room for any noses in the air. "No employer wants to see a potential hire who seems 'too good' for the role. And perhaps more importantly, won't be open to the next thing. We want learners," Bromberg says. "We want people who are willing to try new things, take those risks, and learn from them." Candidates who seem to be "above" learning will never be the ones receiving offers.

You don't think out of the box.

At a place that produces as much content as BuzzFeed, being innovative is pertinent to success. Even if you're applying for a position that's less about budding creativity and more about straight facts and figures, you still have to show that you're constantly thinking of new directions to push into. Regardless of industry, no one wants an employee who is going to be stagnant. At BuzzFeed, "it's about taking intelligent risks that allow you to grow," Bromberg says. "Figure out what you've learned, and how to expand."

You didn't take a real interest.

You don't need to memorize financial reports, recite a stream of company facts verbatim, or know the company's full history. On the other end of the spectrum, you can't walk in blind to an interview. You should know the name of the top executives and be able to speak to what's happening there, particularly in the department you're longing to be a part of. "I'm not expecting someone to come in here and know every stat," says Bromberg. "I am expecting them to have read the site that day." It's all about striking a balance.

You don't mesh with the corporate culture.

Yes, a job is about your skills. But typically, employees who perform the best hold values and goals that mirror those of their employer. At BuzzFeed it's all about collaboration, and while you may have a stacked resume, if you aren't going to fuse with the rest of the staff then you won't get hired, plain and simple.

You didn't go the extra mile.

Your parents are constantly reminding you about the sorry state of the job market today. Skating by with a resume alone simply won't cut it, especially in a highly competitive atmosphere. At BuzzFeed, the way to push yourself above the rest is through contributing to their community page, or having real, in-depth remarks to share about what they're doing or what's going on in your respective industry. "It shows the initiative that you're trying to learn," Bromberg says.

You didn't demonstrate your passion for the company.

Not only should you be informed, but you should care about the place you want to work. Indicate to your interviewer why you feel so strongly about this job, at this place. "If you can't answer the question, 'Why BuzzFeed?' That's a red flag right there," Bromberg says. And if you can't justify why you want to work for them, then your would-be boss won't expect that you'll understand what the company is moving towards.


Photo via Getty Images

Diana Pearl

I'm an Associate Editor at the Business of Fashion, where I edit and write stories about the fashion and beauty industries. Previously, I was the brand editor at Adweek, where I was the lead editor for Adweek's brand and retail coverage. Before my switch to business journalism, I was a writer/reporter at PEOPLE.com, where I wrote news posts, galleries and articles for PEOPLE magazine's website. My work has been published on TheAtlantic.com, ELLE.com, MarieClaire.com, PEOPLE.com, GoodHousekeeping.com and in Every Day with Rachael Ray. It has been syndicated by Cosmopolitan.com, TIME.com, TravelandLeisure.com and GoodHousekeeping.com, among other publications. Previously, I've worked at VOGUE.com, ELLE.com, and MarieClaire.com.