Seven Reasons You Didn't Get The Job

Seven Reasons You Didn't Get The Job

Why can't I get a job?

Rejection. It can be hard to take. – The thought that goes through your head when you get yet another rejection email. "Why can't I get a job?"

The interview went great, you answered the questions thoroughly, everything went smoothly - so what happened? Do you keep receiving the same generic "Thanks; but no thanks" response?
If you're fortunate, you may get some brief feedback in the email or phone call. However, even these can be fairly cryptic and run along the lines of them finding "someone with more experience" or "you did great but we were just looking for something a little different". Not helpful when you are preparing for your next interview.

Rejection is not failure; it's part of the process.

Rejection is an inevitable part of finding a job. Yes there may be a few lucky souls who get every job they apply for - they are very much the exception, not the rule. Statistically, when most people apply for a job, they will get rejected. Even if only four people apply for every role - that's a 75% rejection rate!  If you are getting rejected before getting to the interview stage, let's fix that first by tweaking your CV. Upload your CV to monster now for a free, professional review.  If you got to interview stage, that's put you ahead of many in the process. Most people that apply don't get interviews; most people that are interviewed don't get the job.

Seven potential reasons  you didn't get the job.

1. Discrimination

The ugliest rejection reason upfront. It's a reason that shouldn't exist, is against the law, and that few will admit to - but it still happens without a doubt. Systemic racism and gender bias mean BAME workers, and women, find it harder to get new work. A report from the Centre for Social Investigation at Nuffield College in 2019 showed that applicants from minority ethnic backgrounds have to send 60% more applications to get a positive response compared to 'White British' candidates. The law says you can't be treated unfairly or differently if it's connected to who you are, like being a woman or being disabled. These are 'protected characteristics' as defined in the Equality Act 2010.


If you have been discriminated against, you have rights, and help is available. Start with this guide from the Citizens Advice Bureau  Small comfort- but you may have dodged a bullet in NOT getting a job if they are discriminatory, but we can hope that it's the attitude of an individual and not the company culture.

2. You're Not Qualified.

Not quite qualified doesn't mean you didn't belong at the interview! Job adverts often list requirements without making it clear which are absolutely necessary and which are merely 'nice to have'. This problem with job advert text can drive gender inequality - on average men are more likely to apply for a job if they only meet most of the requirements. Women, on average, will apply if they meet all the requirements listed.It might be that during the interview as they dig into your specific skill set and experience in more detail, perhaps with someone closer to the coal-face role on the panel, realised that there was a mismatch. Perhaps the actual requirements of the role were not clear in the job description.


If you can, try and get detailed feedback - it might be that you need to adjust your CV to reflect a particular gap or tweak your job hunt to filter out similar jobs. It might be evidence of a training gap that you can fill in with an online course to fulfil similar roles.

3. You're Over-Qualified

In a hard job market where sectors rise and fall, or when people are changing careers and industries, there may be candidates with a lot of experience or qualifications who are applying for what seems to be a more junior role. Employers may have issues with this for several reasons - they may worry about job longevity and think you will soon move on to something better. They may be threatened or worried about disruption if you are better qualified than the current department head! Or they may think someone with fewer qualifications will do the job just as well for less money.


Think of the above objections upfront, and address them head-on. At the stage of the interview where you have an opportunity to ask questions, you can ask if they have any reservations about your level of qualification. You might take the opportunity to make clear your reasons for applying, and reassure that, for example, you won't skip the job for something else soon but are applying for specific reasons.

4. You Interview Poorly

Interviewing can be nerve-wracking. Maybe you are a great candidate on paper but don't answer confidently, or break out in a sweat when it goes off-script. Again, try and get what feedback you can.


Prepare and Practice. There are plenty of resources available here to read about interview technique. Practice answering common questions. Try videoing yourself and watching back to see where you can improve and how you come across.

5.We hired an Ex-Colleague / Recommendation / Internally

This can feel like it was a setup - if they had someone in mind why bother interviewing externally! But While there are qualifications for doing a job, companies are also looking for someone who is a cultural fit and will work well within the team. If they are an ex-colleague whose work is proven, it removes some of the risks from the hire. If a candidate has been recommended by an existing worker, that also removes some risk. It's a form of reference.


Chalk it down to experience take it as a lesson that networking works! Try reaching out to your own network to see who you know in the industry is hiring and can recommend you. Many companies run a paid incentive scheme for their current staff to make recommendations.

6. We Found Someone Cheaper

Maybe you could do a fantastic job, but they've discovered someone who can do an 'acceptable' job much for less pay. That's business - write it off as their loss.


Don't be tempted to sell yourself short - know what you are worth! Research the average salaries for your target position. If you are consistently getting this as feedback, then it might be time to re-evaluate the jobs you are applying for or your asking salary.

7. You Did Well - but Someone Else Was Better.

This happens. You might be the second-best candidate out of over 200 that applied. You might have ticked every box, done everything right, rocked the interview - and be able to do a fantastic job for them - but there might have been one other candidate that, for one reason or another, was slightly better.


This happens. Take it as a boost that you got so far in the process and a good sign that you are likely to get one of the next available positions soon.

Final Advice

Rejection happens. It's practically inevitable for everyone at some point in your career. What's important is - do not take it personally - there are many reasons, and not all of them are in your control. Get feedback where you can, prepare for interviews as well as you can, and don't lose heart. Your next job is out there. You can change the question from "Why can't I get a job" to "Which of these jobs will I choose?"

Ready to find it? Get your Free Professional CV Review now, and then set up your next job alerts to get jobs delivered straight to your inbox.