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8 Reasons You Didn't Get the Job Offer

It might not be what you think...

by Janna Kefalas in Interviews, Job Search

In my last blog post I wrote about dealing with rejection during a job search. I discussed how rejection on the job hunt is inevitable — that we should expect it, not take it too personally, and double down on our efforts. But, while you may totally understand that rejection is just part of the deal, it’s possible you want to get a better sense of why, specifically, you might not have gotten the job offer.

And I get it.  During an extended job search it’s easy to feel like we have zero control, and sometimes we just need some answers.

So, while you’ll usually never fully learn why you didn’t get a job offer, here are 8 possible reasons:

Reason #1 – You Were Overqualified

Employers might have been reluctant to hire you if they felt you could do this job in your sleep.  While you may have thought your depth and breadth of experience was as asset, they might have worried you’d get bored quickly and move onto a better position in a matter of months.

Reason #2 – You Were Underqualified

On the flip side, if they felt your skills were a bit lacking and foresaw your learning curve to be too steep, they probably made a job offer to a candidate who seemed like a closer fit experience-wise.

Reason #3 – You Didn’t “Present” Well

Maybe you arrived to the interview 10 minutes late and seemed scattered. Or you wore something that didn’t seem appropriate.

Perhaps your nerves caused you to sweat and tremble the whole time.  Or you rambled on and on…(and then kept commenting on how much you were rambling).

Yes, these reasons seem harsh.  Yes, they have absolutely nothing to do with how well you could do the job. But the unfortunate truth is that employers are going to judge you on all of these.  Best to just accept it and prepare accordingly.

Reason #4 – You Gave Vague or General Answers to Interview Questions

Your resume might have checked out, and you had all the necessary qualifications for the job. But if you weren’t able to make a compelling case for why you were perfect for the role, they likely went with another choice.

Maybe you didn’t put forth enough specific examples of how you solved similar problems in the past or couldn’t clearly convey your management approach, for example.

Behavioral interview questions (the ones that start with “tell me about a time when…”) are nothing to sneeze at and require you to answer with a clear, linear story. If you walked into the room thinking you could wing it, your answers may have come across thin or disorganized.

Reason #5 – You Didn’t Seem Like a Fit for the Team

In this case, you might have nailed every question and clearly demonstrated your qualifications, but, for whatever reason, the hiring manager didn’t see you meshing well with the department. This is NOT to say you didn’t seem likable or exhibited some appalling personality trait.

It’s more likely, for example, your potential boss needed someone who could handle a chaotic, ever-changing environment, and you seemed a bit too rigid or set in your ways.

Or you expressed how much you value working collaboratively on a team, and this role was actually quite autonomous.

Trust that the hiring manager knew what type of person was going to thrive in the role…and who wasn’t.

Reason #6 – Your References Didn’t Check Out

HR usually won’t conduct reference checks until they’re close to an offer, but if something seems off, it may cause them to rethink their decision.

It’s usually not a case of the reference saying something terrible.  What’s more likely to happen is that a candidate puts down references they haven’t been in communication with for years.  Their contact info may be outdated, or it’s been so long since the reference worked with the candidate, they weren’t adequately able to endorse him or her.

So it’s best to keep your references abreast of your job search, so they’re expecting the call and know exactly what to say.

Reason #7 – They Went With an Internal Candidate or a Referral

This, my friends, is the most likely reason you didn’t get the offer.  According to Jobvite’s 2016 Recruiter Nation Survey, internal candidates and referrals were recruiters’ top two sources of quality candidates. In fact, 64% of recruiters say their companies offer employee referral bonuses because they know how valuable a “known” candidate can be.

If you applied for the job online and didn’t have an “in” at the company, you may have lost out to an employee referral or an existing employee who threw his or her hat in the ring.  Even more reason to explore other roles at your current company or network your way into other companies you want to work at.

Reason #8 – None of the Above

This reason can be the most frustrating of all.  Maybe you were a referred candidate, knocked it out of the park, and hit every mark. Perhaps you made it to the very end and were practically assured an offer was imminent.  But in the end…no dice.

Though you’ll probably never know the real reason, feel confident that you’re doing all the right things, and it’s just a matter of time before a job offer comes your way.

And if any of the seven prior reasons sound a tab bit familiar…don’t beat yourself up!  Interviewing successfully has its own learning curve, and every situation will be different.

Keep up your efforts to go after the right roles, build a targeted network, and rehearse those tough interview questions, and you’ll soon be counting all the reasons you DID get the job offer.