Didn’t get the job? I’ll tell you why.

Have you ever left an interviewing feeling like you nailed it and then learned you didn’t get the job?  Have you received that dreadful call from a potential employer letting you know they really liked you BUT had a more qualified candidate? If you’re like me, it’s happened more than once.


Having worked behind the scenes as an HR professional, I’ve been privy to closed-door conversations about what hiring managers really thought about job candidates.  After listening to disappointed candidates, one after the other, I felt compelled to shed a little light on what might have happened.


Before I go any further, we must start with the consideration that sometimes there really was somebody who was just a better candidate than you.  Putting that aside, let’s look at the other possibilities that occur more often than you might think.


Hiring managers receive hundreds of resumes a month for various positions.  If you get called for an interview it’s safe to assume that you are ranked among the most qualified candidates (at least as you claim on your resume) applying for a position.  So the first thing you need to consider if you didn’t get the job is how honest was your resume?  When employers interview you they will ask you to provide specific examples of the experiences and skills you listed on your resume.  If you can’t support your claims with hard facts you will immediately be eliminated from the candidate pool.


Or, leading us into the second possibility, you aren’t skilled in explaining your experiences, also eliminating you from the pool.  Let’s say that you have an honest resume, are able to support it in an interview, but still don’t get the job.


In interviewing hundreds of applicants and coaching and training other HR personnel to do the same, the number one pet peeve I’ve heard is when Hiring managers feel like a candidate is trying to “sell” themselves.  If you’re guilty of any one of the common mistakes above, it’s likely you didn’t get the job you thought you had in the bag.


To get past these 3 major roadblocks take the following suggestions into consideration.

  1. Write an honest resume: We all know how important an attention-getting resume is, but it won’t do you any good if it doesn’t lead to your job of choice. In other words – Don’t lie or exaggerate!  Many sales-minded career coaches will tell you to embellish, but I highly advise against it.  When you write your resume don’t undervalue your experiences, instead focus on your most important achievements, no matter how small they may seem to you.
  2. Prepare specific examples and stories of how you’ve accomplished what’s listed on your resume.  Although it’s always a good idea to prepare for standard interview questions like, “What are your greatest strengths” and “Where do you see yourself in a year?”, the most important part of your interview will be your ability to prove to the interviewer that you’re qualified to perform the key duties for the job you’re interviewing for.  The best way to do this is to be prepared to articulate specific examples of how you completed certain tasks in your last job, what challenges you faced, how you overcame these challenges, etc.  It’s your ability to communicate effectively in this topic that will keep you in the running.
  3. It’s ok to NOT have all of the answers. An employer much rather you be honest in identifying what areas you need more training in rather than spend their energies trying to decipher whether or not your bluffing,  Don’t forget that Hiring Managers are highly skilled at reading people.


Now What?

If you recently didn’t get a job you thought you were a great fit for, my recommendation is to contact the person/s that interviewed you and ask for feedback.  The more specific you are in your questioning the more useful information you’ll receive.  Let the employer know you’re disappointed you didn’t get the job, but are eager to receive feedback so you can improve yourself for your next interview.

Some questions you might ask are:

  • What specific experience or skills could I obtain to be better qualified for this type of position?
  • Name 1 or 2 areas I could improve in my overall interviewing skills.
  • Name 1 or 2 of my strong points in this interview process.


Most importantly, remember to not ask these questions in a threatening tone.  The purpose here is not to prove the interviewer wrong in their original hiring decision, but to improve yourself for the next interview.   I’ve seen many cases where the original offer to an organization’s first choice candidate falls through unexpectedly.  By showing an employer that you’re interested in improving yourself and are open to feedback you will make yourself a great “no regret” next choice.


Hopefully, in reading these tips, you see a common theme.  Honesty is truly the best policy.  The more authentic an employer thinks you are the more likely they are to want to add you as an asset to an organization.