Reasons You Didn’t Get That Job

You had all the qualifications and you aced that interview – at least, you thought you did. But after the dust settled the employer of your dreams has just “decided to go with another candidate.”

What went wrong?

You’ll probably never know for sure why you didn’t get the job, and there are plenty of reasons that are simply out of your control – like if they decided to hire internally, another candidate had better connections, or the interviewer simply didn’t feel a chemistry with you. It’s not worth stressing over those things.

But sometimes there are factors you can control.

Did one of these reasons scuttle your interview?

You didn’t seem interested in the job

Interviewers are looking for a candidate who’s going to be gung-ho about this position, so if you came across as indifferent about the job or uneducated about the company, you may have lost points. Besides paying attention to body language, interviewers use a couple key questions to gauge how much you want this job: “What do you know about us?” and “Do you have any questions for me?”

This is your time to show you’ve done your research on the organization, and you’re excited to take on the role. If you don’t seem motivated to do your research ahead of time, your future employers might be right in thinking you won’t be motivated to do the job you’re applying for.

(Not sure what types of questions you should be asking? Read this post.)

You were too eager

It’s great to be enthusiastic during your interview, but be careful not to go overboard by agreeing eagerly to every request, or offering to make concessions before you’ve even been asked. It can come across as desperate, and you may even cross the line from sounding agreeable to sounding like you’re willing to do anything in order to get the job.

Showing up too early can also put a black mark on you off the bat. You want to be on time, of course, but arriving 30 minutes early may cause the hiring manager to drop everything to greet you.

You were rude

Remember: when you’re trying to ace a job interview, you’re not just trying to impress the hiring manager. You need to leave a good impression on everyone you come in contact with. If you were rude to the receptionist or dismissive of a secretary, it will likely be noted.   

Be on your best behavior from the moment you arrive at the front door, whether you’re talking to the janitor or your potential new boss.

You weren’t prepared for the interview

Some interviewers will spring odd, unexpected questions on hapless interviewees, trying to gauge how quickly they can adapt. You can’t prepare for out-of-the-blue questions like “If you were on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would you bring?”, but you can certainly prepare for the basic questions about your skills, how you handled a tough situation, and what value you brought to your last team.

Prepare for the basic interview questions in a mirror or with a friend, and be sure to have examples of your accomplishments at hand.

You bad-mouthed your old job

It doesn’t matter how much you hated your old job, how horrible your old boss was, or how bitter you feel about the way you were treated at your company – when the interviewer asks why you left, you need to keep that all to yourself. It’s simply not professional, and any complaints you share may even get your interviewer wondering about your past job performance.

You stretched the truth

The job description specifically said you need to be an Excel expert – but even though you’ve only made a spreadsheet once before, you’re a fast learner, so you applied anyway. Or maybe you said on your resume that you managed a dozen employees at a past job, where really you were just the lead for a rather small team.

Never stretch the truth to get a job; your dishonesty will come to light eventually and won’t be looked upon well. If you don’t have the skills needed but you think you can learn them, say so. If you don’t have the exact qualification but have something equivalent, bring it up. An interviewer may be able to overlook your lack of qualifications if they think you’d be a great fit – but it’s unlikely they’ll overlook your lack of scruples.

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Tracey Batacan

Very succinct blog. It also merits that while we over prepare the hard questions, we may also want to prepare for the soft questions. For example, if you are applying for a speechwriter job, it is critical to know the types of speeches the organization writes and the type of speechwriters you will work with when hired.


You were most likely the wrong color or nationality. Having two decades more experience and educational status twice as high as other candidates does NOT trump this federal government’s present hiring practices – Latina, Latino, African-America (M or F), then “also rans,” in that order.