So you got called in for an interview! Woohoo!
With so many applications coming in, your resume got noticed by the hiring director. Great job!
1. Your application stood out
2. They thought you had the right skills and experience needed for the job
3. You passed the phone screening by showing you’re qualified enough to land a face-to-face interview
Now all you have to do is close the interview and get the job, right?
Except, it’s not always that easy.
This is where a lot of people are left wondering:
What are the reasons for not getting a job? Did I do something wrong?
Because maybe you got an email with this dreaded copy/paste template:
Thank you for taking the time to apply for XYZ. At this time, we are declining to move forward with your application.
…or maybe you’ve heard nothing at all.
It happens to everyone, but that still doesn’t make it any easier. What does make it easier, though, is becoming aware of common interview rejection reasons. This way, you’ll be able to fix them.
So let’s jump in!
1. You Didn’t Do Your Homework
When it comes to an interview, you never want to just “wing it.”
Why? Because this is a direct sign of your own work ethic. And if you don’t do your homework, then you risk seriously underselling yourself.
And if you undersell yourself, do you think you’ll ever get paid what you’re worth? Definitely not. After all, why would they? They only know what you show them.
So you don’t want the reason you didn’t get the job to be because of something easily avoidable.
The good news is that the internet makes it so easy to do research about your potential employer, so it’s easy to be prepared.
Start by checking out the company website.
Take a look at their recent projects, what products and services they offer, and who their key executives are.
When you know about the company, then you can prepare for what the interview questions will be.
Bottom line: don’t give up an opportunity because you didn’t do your research.
2. Your Body Language Betrayed You
Poor body language is one of the common reasons for not getting a job.
Here’s what I mean:
Once a hiring director has interviewed enough people, they develop the ability to read people by their behavior.
They take non-verbal cues, the way someone speaks, and how they present themselves into consideration.
If a candidate says, “I’m open to new ideas and experiences,” but they sit tightly with their legs crossed and hands clenched, it shows a different story.
Or if someone says they have leadership skills but they shift nervously in their chair, it’s questionable.
Maybe you can get away with a limp handshake. Maybe.
But a limp handshake and bad eye contact? Probably not.
These things, as small as they might seem, make a big difference.
Your body language sends a loud message about you. Good posture, eye contact, and genuine interest are all great ways to express that you want that job.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s an interview so it’s normal to be nervous. So don’t worry, seasoned interviewers won’t dismiss you for being a little anxious.
But, don’t underestimate the power of confidence and fakin’ it till you make it.
Try to avoid socially awkward behavior like holding your bag in your lap or leaving your coat on.
Awkward fidgeting can be a deal breaker if it comes down between you and another equally-qualified candidate who builds better rapport and shows confidence.
3. There Was No Rapport
Rapport, chemistry, connection, likability – this goes by many names.
And let’s be honest, you just don’t ‘click’ with everyone.
Maybe you’re looking for a specific company culture that they don’t offer. Or the conversation didn’t flow naturally.
And even though rapport seems irrelevant, it’s one of the common reasons for not getting a job.
Here’s the deal:
In a competitive job market, you have to do more than just show you can get the job done.
You also have to make your interviewer want to work with you.
After a job interview, nobody says, “Wow, Ashley was so punctual! I can’t wait to work with her!”
It’s more likely to be, “Ashley was not only professional, but she was also so nice! She’ll be great to have around!”
If building rapport is something you think you might struggle with, then read this and come back to thank me later.
4. You Shared Too Much
“Every once in a while, I’ll get a candidate who just seems to have the worst luck at everything,” recalls M.C., a commercial banking manager.
“They had to leave one job because of an ill parent, then they were laid off two months later, and then they had a personal health problem.” says M.C.
He futher explains, “They talk about their life as if it was a series of unfortunate events. And even if those events were out of the person’s control, all that negativity can be worrisome. Or maybe I just don’t want to bring their bad voodoo into the company. Really, I just feel like I’ll spend the next few years feeling sorry for them instead of managing them.”
Key takeaway? Be careful about sharing too much information.
You have to be able to discern what’s appropriate to share and what isn’t. If you say too much, then you might come across as unprofessional.
The rule of thumb is to keep it short and sweet. Don’t over-explain yourself.
This is why it’s so important you prepare yourself for the questions ahead of time.
If you don’t, you risk letting that be one of your reasons for not getting a job.
Here’s the thing:
When you do your homework, you can practice how you’ll answer those tricky questions that might get asked.
For example, maybe you took some time off because of a health issue. You know you’ll have to explain that gap in your resume, so be prepared.
And finally, avoid oversharing about your previous job.
I’m sure you’ve heard this advice so many times:
“Don’t complain or say anything negative about your last employer.”
That rule is shared all the time, so somebody must be breaking it.
So vent to your friends and family, not to your interviewer.
5. The Position Was Filled Internally
Current employees generally have first dibs on new positions.
And actually, sometimes a current employee was the only one being considered the whole time, but the company has a policy about publicly posting job openings.
This job opening only seemed to be available, but it actually wasn’t.
Wait what, a set up from the beginning? What a waste of time!
I get it. I’m not a fan of this either. It’s a waste of time, but it happens more than you think.
6. You Were Over-Qualified
Have you ever wondered: What’s the big deal with being over-qualified?
After all, having higher qualifications than what a job requires should be a good thing, right?
The answer is vague: maybe or maybe not.
Some employers might welcome you and all your extra skills with open arms. Others, well not so much.
So why do some employers choose to not hire people who have more experience and skills?
When you think about it from the employer’s perspective, it makes sense.
Before starting the hiring process, employers know roughly how much they can afford to pay a new employee.
Having more experience and skills are both great things, but only if the employer can actually afford to pay for them.
Sometimes, they just can’t – and that’s okay. It’s one of the common reasons for not getting a job, and it happens to many people.
Trust me, you’d rather know now that they can’t afford you – rather than when you’re waiting for a raise only to realize they’ve already maxed out your salary budget.
7. You Got Lost in the Crowd
The average interviewer talks to many different people before they finally fill a position.
They have to remember names, faces, organize paperwork, and weigh the pros and cons of each person – before they make the decision.
Also, even though filling positions may be a big part of their job – it’s usually not their only job.
I’ve known several hiring directors who wore many hats within the company.
So you have to make yourself stand out if you want the job.
The best way to do this? Build rapport.
Interviewers are human, too. And guess what? They ask the same old questions and get the same old answers all the time.
If you can bring something different to the table, even if it’s just a little charisma, then they’re much more likely to remember you.
You may be engaging and memorable in your personal life, but is it coming across in your interviews?
8. You Didn’t Look the Part
The company culture will influence the way you choose to dress for an interview, but unpolished is unpolished no matter where you go.
You only have seven seconds to make a first impression.
Messy hair, wrinkled clothes, strong perfume/cologne, or body odor are all signs that you don’t have your sh-t together.
Employees are a reflection of the company. You need to have good professional habits.
Good employees and good bosses care about this.
The interview is when you’re on your absolute best behavior, and if you can’t even get it together then – it gives the impression that you don’t care.
And it’s another one of the common reasons for not getting a job.
You don’t have to look runway ready every time you go to work, but your company wants to know that you can positively represent them.
So make sure you convey that in your interview.
9. You Missed the Instructions
Many companies will ask you to bring certain things with you to the interview.
For example, they might tell you to bring references, a resume, ID, or diploma.
This is one of the most common failed interview signs. So here’s the thing:
Whatever they’re asking for, you can trust that they need it for a reason.
If you forget to bring these things or just thought they weren’t important, then your interviewer will take it as a sign of how you’ll respond to daily work tasks.
This was your first test, and you failed.
But thankfully it’s easily avoidable. If they ask for something, make sure to write it down so you remember it.
10. You Didn’t Have Any Questions at the End
There are plenty of reasons to ask questions in a job interview, and here are a few:
- It lets them know you’re interested
- It shows you’re intelligent
- It shows you care
- It shows you’ve done your research
So when the hiring manager asks, “Do you have any questions for me?”, they actually want you to ask questions.
It’s a sign that you’re passionate about joining their team.
But make sure to ask questions that reflect well on you. Avoid asking things that don’t add any value to the conversation.
For example, don’t ask about things that you should’ve researched already.
A hiring manager once told me that she had someone ask her: So what do you guys do here?
Promise me you won’t be that person.
11. You’re Better Suited to Work Somewhere Else
With all these reasons for not getting a job, this one is the most important:
Sometimes, the job just isn’t the right fit for you.
For example, maybe the company believes that pay raises should be based on seniority instead of performance.
Or, the company culture is loose and you want something more structured.
It’s nothing personal and it’s better that you find this out before you get hired.
It sucks when you get a new job and suddenly think, “Wait, this isn’t what I thought it was going to be.”
It’s life. You can do everything right and still not get the job.
So if you ask yourself:
Why do I keep getting rejected after interviews?
It might not have anything to do with you. All you can do is make improvements and continue the job search.
Rejection tends to be a good thing in the long run.
If a company didn’t think that you were right for the job, then they weren’t right for you either.
Thanks for reading.