Rejected? 10 Reasons You Didn't Get the Job

Rejected? 10 Reasons You Didn't Get the Job

Your resume was good enough to get you interviewed. You've gone through one (or more) rounds of interviews.

You met - and liked - the people who would be bosses or co-workers, and you decided you would like to work there with those people.

But, in the end, they didn't offer you the job. You can ask for feedback, and, occasionally, feedback is provided. But, often, fear of lawsuits keeps the feedback from happening.

Sometimes, external things that have absolutely nothing to do with you personally get in the way of the job offer or completely derail the hiring process. While, other times, the rejection is personal, possibly something you might have avoided.

10 Reasons You Didn't Get the Job That You CAN NOT Control

Many of the reasons you didn't get the job are completely outside of your control. One or more of these might apply to your situation.

1. They hired someone who already worked there.

Known as an "internal hire," competing with a current employee is very tough because choosing someone already working in the organization is typically low-risk for the hiring manager.

Many other employees know these people and their work, so the hiring manager has a fairly accurate impression of the person's capabilities, personality, and work ethic. Plus, they can usually "hit the ground running" more quickly than someone new to the organization. In addition, internal hiring allows organizations to offer good employees the opportunity for advancement or, at least, for change.

2. Someone else was a better networker.

With two equally well-qualified and impressive people to choose from, the person who was referred by an employee gets hired twice as often as the "stranger" - probably because the referred person is viewed as the lower risk (similar to #1).

You cannot control who your competition is and how they connected with the hiring manager. But, you can remember how important networking is for job search -- employee referrals are the number one source of external hires in the USA and have been for many years.

3. The "chemistry" didn't work.

This mysterious factor is critical in determining who gets hired. It often translates to how well you were liked by the people who interviewed you. For some reason, you didn't seem to be "a good fit" to one or two (or more) of the people who interacted with you. Since working for -- or with -- them was necessary to do this job, you didn't make the cut. Sometimes you can impact this (see #7 thru #9, below), and sometimes you can't.

4. They canceled or revised the job.

In a recent study of more than 100,000 job postings, nearly 10% of all those job postings were never filled.

Maybe the job requirements were deemed inappropriate or they decided to try another solution - job sharing, shifting around responsibilities or tasks, or even deciding that a job was no longer necessary. Some jobs are "outsourced" to a completely different organization.

Possibly, something impacted the ability to fund this job. Perhaps sales or profits dropped, a market opportunity (or a crisis) developed, or something else unexpected happened. As a result, the employer decided they didn't want to -- or couldn't -- spend the money to have someone do the job specified in the job description. So, they canceled the job, made it a lower-level (cheaper) job, or changed it in some other way that disqualified you.

Or, maybe business improved, and they restructured the job to a higher level, necessitating the re-posting of a very different job.

5. Organizational issues ended the opportunity.

They decided to reorganize, shifting employees and/or responsibilities from one part of the organization to another. Perhaps someone left, a new need was identified, or something else happened which provided the opportunity (or necessity) for restructuring the organization. Maybe management decided to head in a new direction. Or any of a thousand other things may have happened. "Until the dust has settled" and the new direction is clarified, they don't add new staff.

5 Reasons You Didn't Get the Job That You CAN Control

Many of the reasons you didn't get the job are within your control. Assuming that you are applying for jobs that are a good match for you (or you wouldn't have been interviewed), adjust your approach if you feel that any of these reasons are perhaps negatively impacting your job search.

6. You didn't effectively leverage your network.

Particularly if you are shy or introverted, networking is easy to avoid -- a big mistake. An internal advocate can be a significant make-or-break advantage (see #2), and many of those internal advocates are motivated by more than a chance to do you (and their employer) a favor. Often, employers have an "employee referral program" which rewards employees (with $$$) for referring someone who is hired.

Solution: Choose your target employers, and focus your networking activities on them. Follow these companies on LinkedIn. Look for contacts in your neighborhood and network, including LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Understand that simply having social media profiles does not mean you are using them effectively for job search networking.

7. You weren't prepared for the interview.

Many things can go wrong in an interview - from arriving late, dressing inappropriately, and texting during the discussions to bad-mouthing the people in your current or a former job. One of the most common -- and deadly -- mistakes is walking into the interview unprepared.

Solution: Thoughtful preparation and practice (with a friend or your mirror) before the interview will help to settle your nerves and improve your performance during the interview. Know your answers to the standard questions. Have examples of your accomplishments ready to discuss, to demonstrate your ability to do the job.

8. They didn't believe that you were truly interested in the job.

This is a very common (and deadly) mistake employers mention often, particularly if you didn't have a good answer to the "What do you know about us?" question. They felt that you didn't demonstrate a genuine interest in them or the job. They picked up on your lack of interest, real or perceived.

Solution: Be sure you have a good answer to the "What do you know about us" question. Prepare relevant examples of your accomplishments to share. Have good questions ready to ask about the job, the organization, and what they do.

9. Your references didn't support you.

Often the last step in the hiring process, references can sometimes be the opportunity killer. Your references can close the sale for you so that you get the job offer, or they can end the opportunity very quickly.


  • Manage your references -- stay in touch so you have their most current contact information and availability to speak with the employer.
  • Protect your references -- don't hand out their names and contact information to everyone.
  • Prepare your references -- make sure they have a copy of the resume you gave to the employer and the job description, and coach them on why you'd be a good fit for the job.

10. You expected to fail.

Many job seekers radiate this attitude unconsciously. A job search for most job seekers is a very discouraging, confidence-killing, seemingly endless stream of rejection -- from the resume black hole to lack of contact after the interviews. Particularly if you have been unemployed for a while, your confidence can evaporate because of all of the rejections associated with job search for most job seekers.

Solution: It takes just 2 minutes of privacy, before the interview, and it works! Try before the interviews to improve your attitude.

Expect success with every interview. Greet every interviewer and networking opportunity with a big smile and a firm handshake. Expect the best to happen this time!

Bottom Line

The reality is that you will probably never know what happened -- why you didn't get the job. Often, rejected job seekers have impressed people inside the organization, but the job offer was not made.

If they filled the job with someone else, perhaps that person had advantages no one could overcome, or perhaps they asked better questions in the interview or gave better answers. Keep plugging away at your job search, trying to improve each time, and trying not to take the rejection personally.

In most cases, remember that the rejection was only for this one job -- not a permanent rejection by this employer. The first job offer I received after graduate school arrived in the same mail as a rejection letter from a different part of the same very large company. I accepted the job offer, and worked there very happily for more than 10 years.

IF you REALLY liked the people and the organization, consider sending them a thank you note. This is probably your best opportunity to get some good feedback and be that better-networked candidate next time.

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