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3 Reasons You Didn’t Get the Job

Every job interview, even a bad one, is an opportunity to learn something about how to pitch yourself to companies, and figure out what a given job entails and what the corporate culture has to offer. The problem, of course, is that hiring managers don't always tell you why the company opted to pass, which makes it harder to learn from your mistakes. Here's what might be holding you back, and how to tweak your approach to improve your chances in the future.

Every job interview, even a bad one, is an opportunity to learn something about how to pitch yourself to companies, and figure out what a given job entails and what the corporate culture has to offer. The problem, of course, is that hiring managers don’t always tell you why the company opted to pass, which makes it harder to learn from your mistakes. Here’s what might be holding you back, and how to tweak your approach to improve your chances in the future.

frustrated 

(Photo Credit: jazbeck/Flickr)

1. You made a mistake during the interview.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Some interview mistakes are obvious: if you told an off-color joke or spilled your coffee on the interviewer, you probably don’t have to do much digging to figure out why you’re not being invited back for the next round. Subtler errors, however, are harder to figure out — but not impossible.

First things first: ask. This is somewhat controversial. Many experts will advise you to save your energy, as companies are often (understandably) more concerned with avoiding litigation than helping your career.

If you do opt to ask, frame it in a way that will reduce defensiveness. Send a thank-you note or email, thanking the hiring manager for his or her time, and then ask for feedback on why they chose another candidate. They might tell you if you did anything to knock yourself out of the running. If you didn’t make any outright mistakes during the process, this is also a good way to learn about any gaps in your skill set that could be keeping you from landing a job at another company. Which brings us to our next point…

2. You lack the skills.

Keeping the lines of communication open will make it easier for the decision maker to let you know if there’s anything you can do to improve your chances at getting a similar job. But, even if the hiring manager won’t directly tell you why you weren’t their choice, there are a few tip-offs that your skills don’t align with the position.

Pay attention to the questions the manager asks during the interview, both the simple (“Do you know XYZ programming language?”) and the complex (“We’re working on ABC project. How would you solve the following problem?”) If your honest answers are always either “no” or “I’m not sure,” it doesn’t matter how slick you are at spinning the facts. You’re probably not ready for the position.

The good news is that identifying these gaps is the first step at getting ready. As hard as it is, learn to welcome this kind of intelligence. Until you know what you need to fix, it’s impossible to fix it.

3. You didn’t follow up (or you followed up too much).

“Thank-you letters are not out of date or out of style,” writes Sienna Beard at Wall Street Cheat Sheet. “Writing a letter to say that you appreciated the interviewer’s time will let them know that you are courteous and that you are taking the position seriously and going after it.”

On the other hand, it’s possible to overdo it. Send a thank-you note or email, and follow up perhaps a week later, but leave it at that. After that, you’re no longer expressing interest — you’re stalking.

Tell Us What You Think

What’s your worst job interview story? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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CathyJoseph MohapiWallySamNick Recent comment authors
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Eddie t
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Eddie t

I can tell you that some of the authors of the comments didn’t get the job because your grammar is terrible. I suggest you learn to speak and write English properly and then you will be taken seriously for a “good” job.

Cathy
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Cathy

How do you recommend to respond to illegal questions? On a recent interview, I was asked my date of birth on an official “background clearance” form. I answered the question born 1954 – I was advised this week that they are moving forward with second interviews with two other candidates. I am very qualified for this position. Did I error in providing my age?
Thanks,

Joseph Mohapi
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Joseph Mohapi

I do not know what was the problem was to lose the job interview that I last went to. As far as I know I answered all the questions perfectly and I also believe that I did well at the cook off interview.

Please help in this problem.

Concerned
Joseph Mohapi

Nick
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Nick

If only there were good jobs available. The lack of good jobs requires us to take whatever in the world we can get. The lackeys, cronies and nepotists fill 99 percent of the GOOD jobs. The one percent available require real thinkers, and these thinkers threaten the status quo. The result is that we are in an endless loop of too many qualified candidates chasing for too few good jobs, while meager and unqualified goofs scarf these positions up.

Wally
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Wally

Stalking???? How about the interviewer’s comment that they will be getting back to you………….and don’t!!!
Or the interviewer that provides phone number to keep in touch with the process[ implying you’re in as soon as HR completes paperwork ] and then bitches at you for calling to see where the hiring process is[ actually happened to me ]?

Sam
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Sam

The big issue is how they won’t tell even if you framed the inquiry in best way. How are you supposed to learn and grow if your case doesn’t apply to above and you clearly had the skills, experience with standouts and did every step well as advised and still didn’t get the job?

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