Not Hired? 10 Reasons You Didn't Get the Job

Sometimes, external things that have absolutely nothing to do with you personally get in the way of the job offer or completely derail the hiring process. While, other times, the rejection is personal, possibly something you might have avoided.
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Your resume was good enough to get you interviewed, you've gone through one (or more) rounds of interviews, met people who would be bosses or co-workers, and decided you would like to work there. But, in the end, they didn't offer you the job.

In most cases, the rejection was only for this one job and this point in time -- not a permanent rejection.

Sometimes, external things that have absolutely nothing to do with you personally get in the way of the job offer or completely derail the hiring process. While, other times, the rejection is personal, possibly something you might have avoided.

5 Reasons You Didn't Get the Job That You CANNOT Control

Many of the reasons you didn't get the job are completely outside of your control.

1. They hired someone who already worked there.

Known as an "internal hire," competing with a current employee is very tough because choosing someone already working in the organization is typically low-risk for the hiring manager.

Many other employees know these people and their work, so the hiring manager has a fairly accurate impression of the person's capabilities, personality, and work ethic. Plus, they can usually "hit the ground running" more quickly than someone new to the organization. In addition, internal hiring allows organizations to offer good employees the opportunity for advancement or, at least, for change.

2. Someone else was a better networker.

With two equally well-qualified and impressive people to choose from, the person who was referred by an employee gets hired twice as often as the "unknown" person -- probably because the referred person is viewed as the lower risk (as in #1).

3. The "chemistry" didn't work.

This mysterious factor is critical in determining who gets hired. It often translates to how well you were liked by the people who interviewed you. For some reason, you didn't seem to be "a good fit" to one or two (or more) of the people who interacted with you. Since working for -- or with -- them was necessary to do this job, you didn't make the cut. Sometimes you can impact this (see #7 thru #9, below), and sometimes you can't.

4. Budget issues caused cancellation or revision of the job.

Something impacted the ability to fund this job. Perhaps sales or profits dropped, a market opportunity (or a crisis) developed, or something else unexpected happened. As a result, the employer decided they didn't want to -- or couldn't -- spend the money to have someone do the job specified in the job description. So, they cancelled the job, made it a lower-level (cheaper) job, or changed it in some other way that disqualified you.

5. Organizational issues ended the opportunity.

They decided to reorganize, shifting employees and/or responsibilities from one part of the organization to another. Perhaps someone left (or a new need was identified) which provided the opportunity (or necessity) for restructuring the organization. Maybe management (or maybe one new manager) decided to head in a new direction. Or any of a thousand other things may have happened. Until "the dust has settled" they don't add new staff.

5 Reasons You Didn't Get the Job That You CAN Control

Many of the reasons you didn't get the job are within your control. Assuming that you are applying for jobs that are a good match for you (or you wouldn't have been interviewed), adjust your approach if you feel that any of these reasons are perhaps negatively impacting your job search.

6. You need to leverage your network more effectively.

Particularly if you are shy or introverted, networking is easy to avoid -- a big mistake. An internal advocate can be a significant make-or-break advantage (see #2), and many of those internal advocates are motivated by more than a chance to do you (and their employer) a favor. Often, employers have an "employee referral program" which rewards employees (with $$$) for referring someone who is hired.

Solution: Choose your target employers, and focus your networking activities on them. Look for contacts in your neighborhood and network, including LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Understand that simply having social media profiles does not mean you are using them effectively for job search networking.

7. You weren't prepared for the interview.

Many things can go wrong in an interview - from arriving late, dressing inappropriately, and texting during the discussions to bad-mouthing the people in your current or a former job. One of the most common -- and deadly -- mistakes is walking into the interview unprepared.

Solution: Thoughtful preparation and practice (with a friend or your mirror) before the interview will help to settle your nerves and improve your performance in the interview. Know your answers to the standard questions. Have examples of your accomplishments ready to discuss, to demonstrate your ability to do the job.

Read "How to Answer the Top 10 Job Interview Questions" for more specific advice.

8. They didn't believe that you were truly interested in the job.

This is the next most common (and deadly) mistake employers mention, after lack of preparation. You didn't demonstrate genuine interest in the job or the employer. They picked up on your lack of interest, real or perceived.

Solution: Be sure you have a good answer to the "What do you know about us" question. Prepare relevant examples of your accomplishments to share. Have good question ready to ask about the job, the organization, and what they do.

9. You expected to fail.

Many job seekers radiate this attitude unconsciously. A job search for most job seekers is a very discouraging, confidence-killing, seemingly endless stream of rejection -- from the resume black hole to lack of contact after the interviews. Particularly if you have been unemployed for a while, your confidence can evaporate because of all of the rejection associated with job search for most job seekers.

Solution: Try Dr. Amy Cuddy's "power poses" before the interviews to improve your attitude. This exercise takes just 2 minutes of privacy, before the interview, and it works!

Expect success with every interview. Greet every interviewer and networking opportunity with a big smile and a firm handshake. Expect the best to happen this time!

10. Your references didn't support you.

Often the last step in the hiring process, references can sometimes be the opportunity killer. Your references can close the sale for you so that you get the job offer, or they can end the opportunity very quickly.


  • Manage your references -- stay in touch so you have their most current contact information and availability to speak with the employer.
  • Protect your references -- don't hand out their names and contact information to everyone.
  • Prepare your references -- make sure they have a copy of the resume you gave to the employer and the job description, and coach them on why you'd be a good fit for the job.

Bottom Line

Reality is that you will probably never know what happened -- why you didn't get the job. If they filled the job with someone else, perhaps that person had advantages no one could overcome, or perhaps they asked better questions in the interview or gave better answers. Keep plugging away at your job search, trying to improve each time and trying not to take the rejection personally.

IF you really want to work for this employer, consider sending a follow-up to the rejection to stay in touch and to boost your probably of landing a job the next time you apply there.

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Susan P. Joyce is president of NETability, Inc. and the editor and chief technology writer for and

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