Nine Reasons Why You Were Rejected After A Job Interview

Nine Reasons Why You Were Rejected After A Job Interview

I know many job seekers that are flummoxed when they get the dreaded rejection call or email. Since companies usually will not provide any feedback about the reason for rejection, the job seeker is left to ponder what exactly went wrong.  Below is a list of possibilities for why you might have been rejected. You many never know the reason, but this list may help you pinpoint what happened.

You were not qualified enough

The job description may have asked for a laundry list of requirements of the ideal person for the job. You may possess a lot of them but most people will not have them all. Which ones are the most important? You may learn from the questions asked which ones are highly desired. At the end of the day, there may be another candidate that has the right type and depth of experience, or at least has more than you possess. Also, sometimes a hiring manager might see something in your resume that s/he finds interesting but knows your ability to do the job may be a long shot. The interview may confirm to the manager that you do not have the needed skills.

You did not hit it off with the hiring team

Sometimes you will have a sense about this after the interview is concluded. You may have tried to come across as charming and engaging but something seems off. You get a funny vibe from one or all of the interviewers. Chemistry is important, especially with the people that you would be working with closely. If the hiring team doesn’t feel comfortable with you, they will move on.

Your communication style

Sometimes you are qualified, but the way you communicate can be off-putting. I have seen candidates talk their way out of being hired by literally talking too much during the interview. I have also seen the opposite---a candidate so quiet that the hiring team really has to work to get any answers out of them.  If either of these scenarios are you, practicing your interviewing skills with someone else, like a job coach, can help you find the right balance.

You could not provide specifics during the interview

Some interviewees can’t articulate well what they have accomplished. When asked to provide examples of a behavior, such as a question about conflict with a co-worker, the answer is general, such as “I speak to the person and we work it out.” If you are unable to provide specifics, the interviewer may think that you are making up an answer or may give your answer little weight.

You did not seem enthused about the position

Interviewers want people on their team that want to be there. If two people are equally qualified, the one that can articulate a reason why the job would be desirable usually will get the job. Even if you say the right things, if your body language does not match what you say, a company may pass on you.

The hiring team was intimidated by you

Many leaders will say that they want to hire people that are smarter than they are. For some, their actions do not match their words.  If you come in with credentials and experience that is perceived superior to the hiring manager’s, the manager may be resistant to hiring you for fear that you will make him or her look bad or take their job. This conclusion may be reached during the interview. It can also happen that the hiring manager may have felt this way after reviewing your resume but was forced to interview you by others within the organization.

You were not seen as a good culture fit

This is tough one to understand, as the candidate generally wouldn’t know the ins-and-outs of the company culture. Being too entrepreneurial (or not enough) or being introverted might fall in this category. I would also include ageism here. Hiring teams may assume that someone over a certain age might not “fit” in an organization that skews younger.

Discriminatory reasons

This is not supposed to happen as there are laws in the US and other countries that prohibit this. Examples here would be not hiring based on a person’s race or national origin. While this can be hard to prove, it would be naïve to say that this never happens in job interviews. Only if a role has a bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQ) are employers allowed to exclude certain candidates. An example would be in the US where religious organizations are allowed to hire people only of that religion if the role requires it (such as Catholic priests). Depending on the location of the employer, there can be federal, state or local laws prohibiting discrimination.

Trivial reasons

A hiring manager may have a pet peeve or personal bias that is strong enough that a candidate may be disqualified for reasons that frankly are stupid. I once had a hiring manager early in my career pass on a candidate because she dyed her hair and some of her roots were showing. To this hiring manager that meant the candidate did not possess attention to detail. No matter how I argued that this had nothing to do with how she could do the job (and this was not a job where personal appearance was important), the hiring manager would not budge on her decision. Other examples in this category are first names that people do not like (or if someone in the department already has that name), dislike of a school a person attended or even a place where a person previously worked.

While it is never fun to get rejected for a job, it is even more difficult when there is no feedback as to why. I highly suggest that every candidate ask at the end of the interview if the hiring team has any reservations about you. It is possible that you won’t get a straight answer (or any answer at all), but it is your best opportunity to at least get some feedback.


How To Answer "When Have You Failed Professionally?"

How To Answer "When Have You Failed Professionally?"

Hiking The Grand Canyon And Your Job Search---What They Have In Common

Hiking The Grand Canyon And Your Job Search---What They Have In Common

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required