The 5 Most Common Reasons Why You Did Not Land the Job


You just waltzed out of  an interview at your dream company, for the perfect job. You were the essence of cool,  practically oozed competence, and  dazzled your interviewers with insightful, well thought out  answers to every question thrown your way. You even managed to sprinkle in some humorous anecdotes to showcase some of your less than obvious talents.

Family members and friends have been in awe of your confidence, as you have been snapping your suspenders and puffing your chest out, assured of an offer any day now. Your only concern has been how to tell the company that while you would love to work with them, they need to increase their offer by a zero in order to afford someone of your caliber.

Yet it’s now closing in on a full week with no call back, and the days are dragging by. One can only check vm’s and emails so often before the wait starts to feel excruciating, expecting to hear when they want you to come back in to further impress others on the interview panel.

Finally, the ping alerting you that an email has finally arrived! However, the message is not what you have been expecting. In a clearly canned response, the company thanks you for your time, and advises you that that the position you were sure was yours was rewarded to another candidate.

So, what was the reason behind the rejection? There are many variables that go into why someone does not walk away with an offer for every interview they go on. After recruiting for 24 years now, I am confident that I and our team has seen and heard just about all the things that can make a deal go sideways. While there are countless funny stories and unique situations, there does appear to be a few consistent themes that we have witnessed time and time again that causes a candidate to fall out of contention.

In this blog, we’ll list the 5 most common reasons why people fail to land a job. Our undying hope is that you will take note, and not do any of these the next time you have the chance to interview.

Lack of Chemistry, or Enthusiasm for the Role

When there are multiple qualified candidates for a role, it will come down to the candidate that has the best chemistry with the rest of the team, and who shows the most enthusiasm for the role.

If you are genuinely interested in a role that you are interviewing for, tell them! Share your enthusiasm and passion for the job, and don’t be shy in showing it. People want to hire people that sincerely want to work for them. And after the interview, you always want to send a nice thank you note to every single person that invests the time to meet with you, reiterating your high level of enthusiasm for the role.

  • Follow up thank you notes also afford a terrific opportunity to address any concerns that  may have been expressed with the hope that  you can overcome any potential objections.

Ideally you are the only one to send nice follow up cards out of all the candidates that you are competing against. And you certainly never want to be the only one that does not.

After recruiting for 24 years now, it never ceases to amaze me how many people fail to do this very basic part of interviewing.

Companies look at you during the interview process and try to picture you after you would be hired, representing them. Not following through on the basics is a deal killer in most situations.

Neglecting to send  a follow-up email or doing so when it’s too late is something so basic that frankly it should be a reason to cut someone loose. If you cannot be bothered with the basics, how can we know you will follow through on the important stuff?

Not following through with a thank you note emphasizing your enthusiasm for the role gives the impression that you aren’t hungry enough to secure the position.

Not being a good match culture wise is another common reason why we see candidates lose out on opportunities. Take some time prior to your meeting to look up everyone you will be meeting with on LinkedIn. If possible, reach out to any common connections, to get a feel for what they are like personality wise.

  • The biggest mistake we see with regards to not meshing with a company culture is when a candidate believes that they are going into a more casual environment and they misinterpret what that means.

When we are told that a client is not moving forward with a candidate due to them not fitting into their culture, that typically means one of two things;  They either dressed sloppy or used foul language.

Please make no mistake, regardless of a company’s dress code, it is NEVER okay to wear dirty or wrinkled clothes. It is always mandatory of have a clean, professional appearance, with well cared for clothes, clean polished shoes, a good haircut, etc. And using foul language is typically an automatic dismissal, regardless of how ‘casual’ a company may be. Even if the people interviewing you are using  language that would make  a sailor blush, for heavens sakes, please refrain from using it yourself.


Being Under or Overqualified

Not having the right background and level of experience is another extremely common reason why we see candidates not get hired.

Not having the required skill set is self-explanatory. And being overqualified is also deemed as a valid reason for job rejection. Why? Because HR is looking to hire people that aren’t only qualified for the work but also will hopefully thrive within  the company, and be there for a long time.

  • No one wants to hire someone as a stop gap, simply for a paycheck  while they continue to search for a job that they consider to be a place where they can grow roots and move up within the company.

If a hiring manager believes that you consider the job beneath you, you can rest assured you will not be hired.

Unable to Explain your Questionable Job History

Whatever the reasons may be, make sure to come up with a reasonable (and preferably honest) explanations as to why you made changes in prior jobs.

Remember, interviewers have a lot of experience when it comes to judging people’s character. If you put all the blame on your previous boss or came up with a weak story as to why you got fired, now you know the reason behind your rejection.

  • If every single boss was unreasonable, you are the common denominator. If every single company was unstable, you make poor decisions.

There is never a more important component of your interview preparation than explaining prior career changes.

Role play your answers with your recruiter. If you are not one of the lucky ones that are working with a recruiter, role play with your partner, friend, or even the dog. The point is, you want to be comfortable explaining your career changes in a positive, concise manner. Aim for a few short sentences per transition. It should not take more than 2 or 3 minutes per job change to explain your reasons. And make a point to emphasize that if you are hired for this role, you will be the first one there in the morning, the last one to leave at the end of the day, and assure them that your plan is to build a long lasting career within their company.

If you have a spotty job history, that is going to be the biggest objection that you will have to overcome, so invest time on doing what you can to create some  confidence in the hiring manager that history will not repeat itself.

Even Oscar winning actors rehearse. Every single candidate needs to rehearse his or her answers to the questions that you can anticipate being asked during an interview, and the reasons for your prior job changes is a guaranteed question.

Trying to Jump Careers

In a perfect world, a hiring manager wants us to deliver highly qualified candidates that have industry specific experience.

With that said, the vast majority of roles that we place can easily move between industries. A sales superstar that sells paints and coatings will predictably still be excellent at selling another product, because selling skills are the same, regardless of what you are selling. Having existing relationships with key decision makers is what it is all about. So if you are currently selling paints and coatings and want to go into a solar sales role, calling on the same decision makers, you are in luck. The transition can be relatively painless.

Changing types of positions is another story. If someone has invested 15-20 years in a sales role, it is a difficult endeavor to try to find a job that will pay the same in a totally different type of position, such as IT or Operations.

  • While there are the rare success stories of people changing careers, most people don’t make it. According to Zety, 65% of employers look for relevant work experience when hiring suitable candidates.

So if you have invested a decade or more within a certain type of position, think long and hard before ditching all that hard earned experience. Think about what you liked and have not enjoyed about prior roles and try to strategically find a position with a company that will offer you the best chance to succeed.

Unrealistic Salary Expectations

  • This one is pretty straightforward. If you applied for a position that pays $100,000 a year but mentioned your expected salary as $150,000, the reason behind your rejection is pretty clear.

Research consistently shows that the longer you can put off putting a price on your candidacy, the more you will get. So postpone telling the company what it will take to get you to join the team as long as possible. When asked, just say that you want to gather more information on the opportunity before you can give an honest answer. If you are completing paperwork, consider putting OPEN or if mandated to compete a salary field on an on-line application, just put something like 1111 to make it clear that you are not putting in a valid number.

There is great wisdom in the saying that you should SELL THE SIZZLE BEFORE GIVING THE COST OF THE STEAK.  

Are you still trying to find a job? Letting too much time pass after your previous employment reflects badly on your resume. Feel free to check out International Search Consultants to see if we have any active searches that peak your interest and match your skill set. You can also take advantage of our Build Your Resume portal, and you can also submit your resume to be alerted to future opportunities.  We have been helping ambitious job seekers find the right job since 1999, and would love to help you!