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10 surprising reasons why you didn’t get the job

Being turned away for jobs is one of the hardest emotional experiences someone can go through.

You can feel hopeless, lost and tired. We’ve all been there at some point.

didn't get the job

But what if it wasn’t all your fault?

Here’s the thing:

There are more reasons for why you didn’t get the job than “inexperience” or “not being good enough” or “not sharing a love of *NSYNC with the bosses”.

Some of these things are unavoidable, some are things you can work on. All of them you’re unlikely to have been told directly.


  1)  You’re overqualified

didn't get the job

You could have applied for a job which matches your skill set perfectly, but because it does, it is way too junior a position for you.

For example, if you’re a PhD student, applying for a software support role may not be the best use of your skill set.

Sure, you may see it as a route into the industry, and you may be willing to grind it out at a lower level to prove your professionalism. However…

The person on the other side could have concerns that the work you would be doing wouldn’t challenge you, and you could get bored and leave quickly. They may decide to go with someone less qualified as a result.


  2)  The field was super-competitive

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Times have been tough recently, leaving many extremely talented people out of work and out of luck.

As a result, bottle necks form around the most competitive and desirable roles.

You could be a first class Computer Science graduate, with a year’s industrial experience and personal projects to boot, and still not make the cut because there’s several other applicants just like you.

Don’t be too disheartened if this is the reason why you didn’t get the job; it’s likely come down to very subtle differences between candidates, and on another day it could have been you.


  3)  Politics

Throughout your life, you may have struggled to find part-time work in retail or in bar work. It’s not because you’re not skilled or anything, but far too many times you hear about people getting work via who they know, not what they know.

This can also ring true with full time job hunting. Big companies are well populated, and a recommendation can get someone less skilled than you very far.

This isn’t always the case, though; it could just be that the perfect candidate is someone the senior web developer recommends and refers.

A solution to this is to network hard; go to as many events as possible, properly utilise online networks such as LinkedIn, and get your name into the brains of as many influential people as possible.


  4)  Your CV was visually unappealing

For all your skills, something as simple as this could get your application rejected before it’s had a chance to be read.

Before you submit your CV to any company, make sure its aesthetics are on point. This could mean learning a few new skills in Word, or even using your skills in programming to make something cooler than two sides of A4.

Standing out is incredibly important. If you don’t have the skills to produce something visually impressive, you need to make sure your CV is neat, tidy, concise and easy to read.

The lesson here is to give your skills and experience the justice they deserve with a good looking, well written CV.


  5)  You have too much swag

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Confidence is a great thing. Over-confidence is something to be cautious about. Arrogance is a weakness.

You could be a Masters graduate with a distinction to boot. You could have worked for Facebook or Google. You could have produced an app which went viral.

You could have let it all go to your head.

Employers look for people who are humble, not someone who thinks they can be bigger than the company they apply for.

Having arrogance as your Achilles Heel could set your career back years.


  6)  You’re asking for too much money

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Linking in with #5 is the idea that you value yourself higher than what your CV says.

If you’ve built up a CV complete with a solid degree and a few years of good work experience, you could be ready for a more senior position.

What you shouldn’t be ready for though is the right to demand a high wage. A good senior level programming role could be worth anywhere between £35,000 and £45,000, so why would you value yourself at £50,000 and refuse to budge on that figure?

Be realistic with your expectations. We would advise that you take a job for the work involved, not the cheddar!


  7)  You’re (un)attractive

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This one has the ability to work multidirectionally (totally a word).

The sad truth of the matter is that discrimination is rife in the world of hiring. If a hiring manager considers you to be unattractive, you’re much less likely to be hired, according to a study by researchers at the University of Messina.

This rings particularly true when it comes to women; 7% of unattractive women received a call back from their application, compared to 54% of attractive women.

Having said that, being attractive can have its downsides, believe it or not. Some managers may find good looks intimidating or a distraction to other workers. This study from Ben-Gurion University claims that jealousy could be a root cause of this.

This just scratches the surface of hiring discrimination. Things such as race, age and disabilities can also factor into why you didn’t get the job when, in reality, they really shouldn’t.


  8)  You were too fidgety in the interviews

Fidgeting in interviews can happen for a number of reasons.

One of these reasons is nerves. Too many nerves going in to an interview can lead to excessive fidgeting and an inability to sit still.

Another reason could be something from the other end of the spectrum: boredom. Showing a clear disinterest by tapping your feet or fiddling with a pen is a humongous red flag for employers.

You could end up saying all the right things. Fidgeting could even be a thing of habit for you.

But fidgeting is a symptom of boredom and nerves, qualities which are highly undesirable.


  9)  They don’t like you

But they’ve just met me! How can they not like me, I’m hench!

Well, it’s impossible for one person to like everyone who has ever existed. This is why “company culture” is so vital.

If you don’t build a noticeable rapport with your interviewer, or you don’t relate to their culture, that could spell trouble.

Some cultures are toxic, some are very relaxed. It is important that they feel you’re a good fit for their environment, and that you would integrate well with the rest of the team.

Don’t try and falsely rectify this. If they’re a relaxed company with a pool table and an Xbox One complete with FIFA 15, but you like to keep your head down, hate Ronnie O’Sullivan with a passion and only play Madden and Viva Piñata, it’s best just to move on to something else anyway.


  10)  Phone Manner

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The final killer has to do with how you deal with calls.

I’m not talking about telephone interviews specifically, but any phone correspondence you have with the people at the company.

You have to sound enthusiastic. For example, there’s a story about a freelance journalist who lost a £2,500 commission because he was exhausted after finishing off a different project and that reflected in the way he was speaking on the phone.

Similarly, you could lose a job offer, or be ruled out at the interview stages, for sounding sleepy or disenchanted.

Missing phonecalls or being impolite and non-conversational has the exact same effect. The person on the other end will turn off.


Overall, we have a mix of misfortune, mistakes and personality issues which could be holding you back. The best way to overcome these is to properly research every role you apply for, making certain that your skills match the specification as well as possible.

You should also look to react and tailor yourself to the situation and the people around you. If your interviewer likes being direct, be direct. If they like to chat and make you feel comfortable, you should be equally accommodating.

The only thing left to do now is to check out our jobs and see if your dream job is within grasp!

Do you have a question?

We only want the best for you and are here for you every step of the way.