If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Why didn’t I get the job after a great interview?”, well, here are 7 possible reasons – with solutions.
A job search is no easy feat. The process of landing one – especially one that you love – can be daunting and full of challenges. The pandemic has amplified this challenge – you’d be considered meritorious if you got a response from a company at all!
Given the ever-increasing competition in the job market, it’s imperative to do your best in the selection rounds. But, be that as it may, you could do your absolute best and it may still not work out.
I’d had an interview with a company that I was perfect for – I had interned with them before, I knew their website inside out, I’d written for them before, and the company’s CEO followed me on Instagram – the perfect checklist for the perfect candidate, right?
I had cleared all my rounds. I’d nailed the long and gruelling copy test that I was given four days to complete, and of course, the interview – it didn’t last very long and they were talking to me like I was already a part of the team. I’d started looking for houses on rent and figuring out an investment plan for my salary – but all of that came to a crashing halt when I got a rejection letter. The letter had no feedback, no answers for why I didn’t get selected when I’d come so close. It was heartbreaking.
However, recruiting patterns across companies provide insights into this – there are, in fact, a few reasons behind that rejection letter in your inbox.
If you have applied to companies and you haven’t heard back, here are the possible reasons.
Your CV isn’t up to the mark
Your CV is a description of you as an employee. It’s what gives your hiring manager an insight into what you are capable of achieving, so you have to make sure it fits the bill.
A common resume mistake people make is writing down each and every thing they’ve ever done to make it look bulky – that doesn’t guarantee a call-back or an interview. In fact, if your CV is too long, it could go straight into the reject pile without a second glance. Your hiring manager is interested only in the experience relevant to the role you have applied for, so highlight all the relevant skills and experience pertaining to that role – you can shorten the rest of it and eliminate things that are completely irrelevant.
Tip: Keep your CV short, crisp, and no-nonsense.
You may choose to even colour-code it according to the skills you want to highlight, which could be an impressive visual treat for the hiring manager.
Always send a four-line cover note when you send across your CV so that the person doesn’t have to open your CV to know what your core skills are.
There was a mismatch between your skills and the job role
It’s a smart decision to apply for a position that is better than your current one in terms of roles and responsibilities and, of course, pay – but that can also be the reason why you didn’t get the job. You may think that you’re ready to take on a bigger role, but there’s a chance that your experience doesn’t reflect that. And companies wouldn’t want to take a risk hiring someone on whom they would have to spend more of their resources to train.
It is also possible that your skills and experience, as great as they might be, are not what’s needed for the role. It is ok if you meet around 60% of the criteria, but anything less than 50% is not a good fit.
Tip: Invest in upskilling. This isn’t merely a buzzword that’s been floating around – it is the need of the hour and a factor that can give your desirability in the job market a boost.
Investing in a short-term course on the subject and around it can be helpful, and you’ll have a certificate to show for your experience.
You didn’t match their salary range
You may have asked for a fair hike depending on your skills and experience, but companies usually have pre-determined salary ranges for different positions, which they use to sift through candidates – that can sometimes mean quantity over quality. To add to that, the norm in companies across industries is that they do not want to go beyond a standard 30% hike from one’s previous salary, which can prove disadvantageous if you’ve started out with a lower-than-average salary.
Demanding a good salary hike is an extremely tricky situation, especially for women. Because women are discouraged from attaining even basic financial literacy, they make their way into the workforce with an ambivalent relationship with money. Women’s work is deeply undervalued in a patriarchal society, and that causes them to undervalue themselves. This, over time, contributes to the wage gap.
Tip: Talk to your peers about how much they’re making! We’ve developed a culture where we don’t talk about our salaries because that gives the company the leeway to pay us less and save costs.
As women, discussing how much we’re getting paid is an act of solidarity because that’s an effective way to break the glass ceiling and earn an equal amount for equal work.
Also, to make sure you’re quoting something that isn’t too extravagant, conduct thorough research on the average salary of a candidate with your expertise on websites such as Glassdoor and Payscale. They will give you a better idea of what you’re demanding and what you would most likely get.
If you made it through the initial rounds and got a rejection letter after what you thought was a great one-on-one interview, here are the possible reasons why.
You downplayed your achievements during the interview
An interview is the last place to be humble – talk about how great you are! Reflect on every question that is being asked to you, and think of how you can equate that with a skill you possess. If you don’t think you possess that skill, tell the interviewer that you’re eager to learn it. Of course, remember to present yourself as confident – not arrogant – when you talk about your achievements.
This one hits hard when you’re a woman. As mentioned above, girls are raised in a culture where they are taught not to think much of their achievements, mostly because their ultimate goal is carved out – marriage and motherhood. If you haven’t made the effort to shake off that conditioning, it could be a reason behind that rejection letter.
Tip: Do not put each and every detail of your work experience in your CV – leave some out so you can put it in conversation.
Your hiring manager wants to know what lies beyond your CV – sharing some of your work experience by way of anecdotes will be a pleasant surprise to them.
You didn’t do your research correctly
You’ve made it through the initial stages and you’re at your one-on-one interview with the hiring manager – this is where your understanding of the company will be put to the test. Having information about the company is essential if you want to be considered for the position, because it reflects where you see yourself within it. Often, people go for interviews without knowing enough about the company or knowing the important things, which is obviously a deal-breaker.
Tip: When you’re gathering information about the organisation, make sure to read about the founder and their vision for the company, as that will prepare you well for the answers you will give out during the interview.
Instead of just reading through their official website, learn about them from other sources such as newspapers, press releases, and LinkedIn profiles.
You weren’t the right fit for the company culture
Yes, this can be an important deterring factor. Every organisation has a different culture – a way of working like a well-oiled machine – and one reason why you may not have gotten that job offer is that the company may not have seen you as a good fit for their culture. For example, Google rates candidates on the basis of certain factors such as openness, friendliness, positive outlook, and communication style to name a few. That said, not being a cultural fit sometimes can be a blessing in disguise – you wouldn’t want to be a part of a toxic company culture!
Tip: One way to get an idea about the company culture is by asking the interviewer questions about what the company does for its employees to keep them motivated – does it provide more paid leaves? Flexible working hours? Leisure activities? You may not get the whole picture from these questions, but as long as you can envision what working at the company would be like, you’ll know if you were a good fit.
They simply had a more convenient choice
This one’s a heartbreaker, but it’s true – you could do everything right and the job still won’t be yours. In such cases, it could either be that they have decided to go with someone in-house to fill the position, or they have found someone who is at par with you but is quoting a lower salary. In some cases, the company may have scrapped the position itself.
Tip: Send a feedback email. Show them appreciation for being selected as a potential candidate and thank them for the opportunity, but also ask them if they can provide you with feedback regarding your performance.
Ask them if there was anything you could have done better or could do better in future interviews. If your rapport with them has been excellent, go the extra mile and ask them for recommendations and other opportunities.
Your enthusiasm and confidence will surely result in a good response.
It can be difficult to nurse your ego and your heart when you end up getting a rejection letter, but fret not – offers will come and go. Use this opportunity to improve your efforts and skills, and walk into your next interview with your head held high!
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