You’ve been on a number of interviews and sent out more applications than you can count, but still no luck. If you hear back at all, it’s always a “thanks for your time, but we’re not interested” or "you're not the right fit for this role." It can be frustrating and disheartening. And unless you know these 8 reasons why you didn’t get the job, you’re likely to keep receiving the same response.
Here are some of the most common reasons why you may have been passed over for a position. One or more of them may apply to you, so take the time to really ask yourself if any of these could fit you.
1. Your Resume / Cover Letter Didn’t Impress
Hiring managers are inundated with resumes, so your documents need to be action-driven and eye-catching in order to make you stand out from the crowd. From presenting your accomplishments to demonstrating your skills, does your resume reflect your personal brand and position you as the person for the job? Is your cover letter personalized and tailored to each company you’re submitting it to? (If you’re lost and need some assistance, I’m always here to help.)
2. You Weren’t Prepared--That's Why You Didn't Get the Job
Did you research the company before the interview--more than just looking at the website? Rehearse your answers to common interview questions, including memorizing specific examples you could give to demonstrate how you performed in certain situations? Did you get directions to the interview beforehand so you knew how much time to leave yourself (factoring in potential traffic jams and other delays)? Never underestimate the importance of preparation. It could make or break your interview.
3. You Didn’t Interview Well
We all get nervous before interviews, and interviewers understand this. But there are certain behaviors that are bound to wreck an interview, including rambling, fidgeting, defensive body language, and sounding like you’ve rehearsed your answers. (You do want to rehearse your answers, but only so that you remember your talking points, not so that you recite them word-for-word like a robot.)
4. Your Personality Wasn’t a Fit
Corporate culture is big these days and it isn’t just about your qualifications. Hiring managers want to make sure new employees will fit the office environment and get along with coworkers and bosses.
Some of this can’t be helped. If a company has a laid-back, informal environment and you’re a play-by-the-numbers person, pretending you love Casual Fridays won’t do you or the employer any good. If you think you were a good fit but you still got a “no,” consider if any of the other points on this list apply to you.
5. You Talked Negatively About Previous Employers
Even if you left your last job because the boss was a hostile bully, an interviewer doesn’t want to hear this. An interviewer has no way of knowing whether you’re trashing a former employer because they were the worst employer in the world, or because you’re a difficult employee who will give them trouble if they hired you.
If you’re asked a question like, “Why did you leave your last job?” and you’re inclined to answer in the negative, find a way to spin it that puts you in a good light. Answers like “I want to be able to fully use my skills, and I wasn’t able to do so at my previous job” and “This position would offer me the ability to exercise skills my previous job didn’t” are good ways to respond that don’t make you sound disgruntled.
6. You Didn’t Show Off Your Soft Skills
Employers aren’t just looking for your technical qualifications. They also want to make sure you have the “soft skills” to be an effective employee. Soft skills are the personal traits and characteristics that make you a valuable employee and the ones most employers drool over are work ethic, time management, problems-solving skills, a positive attitude, good communication skills, flexibility, accountability, and the ability to be a team player. Make sure your answers to interview questions show these skills off as much as they show off your “hard skills.”
7. You Weren’t Qualified Enough
You should not be applying for jobs for which you aren’t qualified—even if you’ve been unemployed for a while or are trying to cast a wider net. Neither you nor the employer will be happy if you take a job you’re not ready for, so save everyone the time.
8. You Just Weren’t the Right Fit
If all else doesn’t apply, then you likely fall into the category of “just not right for us at this time.” The bad news is that this can mean any number of things over which you have no control. Maybe the interviewer just “clicked” better with another candidate.
The good news is that when this happens, it isn’t a reflection on you as a candidate. Sometimes a job just isn’t meant to be. Try to see it less as a personal rejection and more as a relief. If you weren’t “right” for that job, then the job probably wouldn’t have been right for you, either. So get out there and keep looking for the one that will!
Lisa Rangel and the Chameleon Resume team have helped hundreds of people just like you get the 6-figure position they deserve.
If you are interested in working with an elite team of former Fortune 500 recruiters and executive resume writers to win the attention of hiring managers and start landing more interviews, sign up for an exploratory call now to discuss next steps.