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Why you didn’t get the job you were perfectly qualified for

didn't get the job

Do you know why you didn’t get the job?

Why we didn’t get the job offer

I just talked with a good friend that recently went on 5 interviews for 5 different jobs with 5 different companies.  In each case, she went on multiple interviews and in the end didn’t get the job from any of the companies.  In 3 of the positions, this candidate talked with the recruiter, the hiring manager members of the hiring team. 

This is concerning because if you are talking with the hiring manager and the hiring manager asks you to talk with the team then you are definitely on the shortlist.  

We sat down over coffee because she was wondering what was wrong with her in that she didn’t get the job in each of these cases. She hadn’t had this problem in the past. Prior to this experience, offers came easily to her.   

This candidate is hire-able

After I heard that she had interviewed with a number of companies and had multiple interviews with each, I started to dig into what the specific companies were because I had a hunch about what was going. My hunch was based on her tone as she described each of the positions. I know this woman is hire-able.

After going through three of the companies, I had heard enough and finally just asked the questions none of her friends thought to ask or I suspect had the courage to ask. 

“What inspired you to apply for positions at these companies?” 

Don’t just apply to any company

I know this candidate and knew that she was not going to be happy or excited about working in any of these companies. The title of the jobs which she was applying for matched the title she was looking for.  The job descriptions matched what she was looking to do. So what was wrong? Based on what I know about our candidate, the well-known cultures and the management styles of these companies it wasn’t going to be a fit. 

Our candidate and the companies she applied to work for couldn’t have been further apart than the Earth is from Pluto.

She looked at me quizzically and asked, “What do you mean?”

Would you accept the position if offered?

To which I responded, “I mean, why the frick are you even wasting your time interviewing with these companies? We both know you are not going to be happy working at any of these places?  I am confident you wouldn’t accept one of the positions even if it were offered to you.”

She looked at me in a non-committal and sheepish way and explained, “Well, they are great companies and the jobs sounded interesting”. She knew damn well she was busted. 

Yes, our candidate is perfectly qualified for the positions she applied for and yes she had the experience needed. On paper, her individually tailored resumes were doing their jobs and getting her foot in the front door.  Her Achilles heel was that her attitude towards these companies showed up in the interviews. When I asked her if she was excited about any of these positions, she couldn’t look me in the eye. Her head was looking down at the table between us and she softly gave me her answer.  “Uhh, no, not really”. She was defeated, not because I had caught her, but because she knew that she wasn’t going to be happy even if she landed one of these positions. 

And therein lies the rub

She was qualified for the job, her application was an indication of interest, but her verbal communication and body language told the interviewers, “Uhh, yeah, not really excited about this place”. And the rest is predictable.  She didn’t get the job.   

The companies might have formally declined her of these 5 positions, but when I proposed that her body language and lack of enthusiasm is what didn’t get the job, she couldn’t defend my logic. She knew I was right and she knew she herself wouldn’t hire someone who showed the same lack of enthusiasm. She didn’t get the job because of her lack of interest, and in the process of interviewing for these 5 positions, our candidate was slowly sending herself into a funk. A funk that she didn’t realize she was falling into and was killing her confidence level at subsequent interviews.

I got skills, I am not THAT candidate

After she didn’t get the job 5 times in a row, after being interviewed multiple times, she was really beginning to question her abilities. We have all heard of candidates that have turned in 100, 200 and 300 resumes and haven’t heard any luck. If being declined for 5 positions can change a confidence level, what happens when you approach these larger numbers???  

After a few more declines in this vicious cycle, I could see our candidate interviewing for positions she would be overqualified for, requiring less experience and paying less money, all because she didn’t get job offers from the earlier positions.      

My advice was two-fold

  1. Look for companies, technologies or teams that you are excited to work with.  If she was excited about the position, it would show in how she carried herself in an interview, how much follow-up she would put forth and how much passion she had. The team interviewing her would see all of this and be excited about working with her.
  2. Fake it. Even if you do NOT find the technology interesting, the company exciting, the industry fascinating, then you need FAKE IT. There will be other candidates that ARE excited about the position/industry/technology and their enthusiasm will show through.  If you need the job, your lack of enthusiasm will get you declined regardless of how great a match your experience is. No one wants to work with someone who doesn’t want to be there.

Crash course on faking it 

  1. Smile all the time. 
  2. Tell everyone you meet with that you are excited about the position. Say the words “I am really excited about this opportunity”
  3. Send thank you emails to everyone you meet. 
  4. Ask questions about the position.  If someone isn’t really interested in the position, they won’t ask any questions because they really don’t care. 
  5. Answer all email correspondence and phone calls quickly.  Don’t let a day or two pass before you respond.

Remember, you can always decline the position.  Just because you interviewed for the job doesn’t mean you have to accept the role. Find out as much as you can about the role so you can make an informed decision and a decision that you can control.  f a company declines you before you have the opportunity to learn the specifics about the role and the manager, you are doing yourself and your career a disservice.  Lack of excitement is the real reason she didn’t get the job.    

See you at the after party,


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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